ONCE Wins Stage 1 of Vuelta
ONCE has taken Stage 1 of the Vuelta a Espana. The Spanish squad, which has for the last few years been the world's best time trial team, won the 28-km team time trial through the streets of Gijon in 32:01. U.S. Postal Service finished second at 0:10, and iBanesto.com took third at 0:24. ONCE captain Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has taken the overall lead in the last of this season's Grand Tours.
IBanesto.com was the first team to start, and it set the early standard. IBanesto.com powered through the course and finished in 32:25. The team's time held until ONCE started. ONCE dropped Jorg Jaksche and Mikel Pradera on the first climb but rode strongly to take the lead with seven men. U.S. Postal Service could only ride as fast as captain Roberto Heras, who is an excellent climber but an indifferent time trialist. Fortunately, Heras rode well and his team backed him up to limit the 2000 Vuelta champion's losses to 0:10.
Aitor Gonzalez, Fassa Bortolo captain and defending champion, had a mishap that cost him precious time. In the last km, Gonzalez had a mechanical problem with his bicycle and needed a new machine. Several of his teammates waited for him, but the Italian squad at 1:25.
Relax had a disaster in the first seven km. The team crashed, and captain Santiago Blanco fractured his left cheekbone. The Spanish squad finished 21st in a 22-team field at 2:30.
In the overall, Gonzalez de Galdeano leads teammates Joaquin Rodriguez and Jan Hruska. He might not keep his golden jersey because Stage 2 is a mountain stage and Gonzalez de Galdeano is not the strongest climber in the field. The 148-km ride from Gijon to Cangas de Onis will feature three ascents, including an uphill finish. Expect climbers such as Heras or Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) to attack. Who will win the stage? Who will wear the golden jersey at day's end? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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