Menchov Wins Time Trial, Takes Early Lead in Vuelta
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has won Stage 1 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has won Stage 1 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Russian blazed over the tough, seven-km course in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
The early standard, and indeed the standard for most of the day, was Verbrugghe?s time. The Belgian started his race 23 minutes after the first starter, Luca Solari (Domina Vacanze), and posted a . Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel), Santiago Botero (Phonak), Christian Vandevelde (CSC), finished within 0:20 of Verbrugghe, but the Quick Stepper?s time looked like a winner until Menchov started his ride.
Menchov?s time at the checkpoint at the top of the Alto de la Alhambra (2.3 km) was 0:03 slower than Verbrugghe?s, but on the descent, the Rabobank rider poured on the coal to win. McGee also made up time on the descent to finish third.
Except for Menchov, the day?s biggest winner was probably two-time defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros). Heras, who is attempting to win an unprecedented fourth Vuelta, is an indifferent time trialist. Today, however, the Liberty Seguros rider finished seventh at 0:15. Two-time Giro d?Italia winner Gilberto Simoni (Lampre), who is also not the best of racers against the clock, finished 10 th at 0:20. Both riders are well-positioned for the battles to come.
Floyd Landis (Phonak), however, was one of the day?s losers. Landis lumbered home 46 th at 0:36. Landis?s teammate Oscar Pereiro finished 58 th at 0:39. Already, two members of the Phonak trio (Santiago Botero is the third) are in poor competitive positions.
In the overall, Menchov leads Verbrugghe by 0:01 and McGee by 0:03. Stage 2, a largely downhill, 189.3-km run from