Hamilton Wins Vuelta Time Trial; Landis Takes Lead
Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) has won Stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) has won Stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Olympic time trial champion won the flat, 40.1-km race against the clock that began and ended at the Ford factory in Zaragoza in 47:16. Victor Hugo Pena and Floyd Landis (both from U.S. Postal Service) finished second and third, respectively, at 0:15 and 0:18. Landis has taken the overall lead from teammate Manuel Beltran.
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Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) set the early standard. The Spaniard rode the course in 48:48, but not long after, Bert Grabsch, Gonzalez?s teammate, bettered this mark. Grabsch?s time held for nearly an hour until Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana) pipped it by 0:11.
Isidro Nozal (Liberty Seguros) took the lead with a 47:53, but because Hamilton and Pena were on the road and 0:07 faster than the Spaniard at the 13-km checkpoint, everyone knew that Nozal?s time was soft. Hamilton demonstrated how soft when he barreled home in 47:16. Pena was only 0:05 slower than Hamilton at the 30-km checkpoint, but the man from Marblehead pulled away from the Colombian in the last 10 km. Landis, a good time trialist, posted a 47:34. Beltran, not known as a rider against the clock, came home in 47:44 to remain near the top of the general classification.
Despite the fact that the course did not favor climbers, all of them except for Joseba Beloki (Saunier Duval) and Damiano Cunego (Saeco) finished less than two minutes behind Hamilton. Only two and a half minutes separate the first 15 places on GC, which should make for interesting racing as the Vuelta reaches the mountains.
In the overall, Landis leads Beltran by 0:10 and Hamilton by 0:32. Stage 9 will be another standing shaker. The 162-km ride from Xativa to Alto de Aitana will feature six Category 2 and 3 climbs before ending with the special category finishing climb. Expect a fight to the death on the final approach. Who will win it? Hamilton? Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)? Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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