September 18, 2006

Vinokourov has 1st Grand Tour with Vuelta win

Eurosport | Vinokourov wins Vuelta Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov salvaged his season, and the Liberty Seguros/Würth/Astaná team's as well, with a win in the Vuelta a España. Vinokourov and Astaná were barred from the Tour de France because several of the team's riders were implicated by Spanish officials in the Operación Puerto investigation. Vinokourov was not implicated, but Astaná found themselves with only 4 riders, not enough to start the race. Vinokourov railed at the time that organizers had deprived him of his last chance to win the Tour, but Sunday, buoyed by his impending victories, he sang another tune. Vinokourov told Eurosport the Vuelta win is “what I needed to be competitive in the 2007 Tour de France.” Vinokourov took 3 stages of the race, including the Saturday time trial on his 33rd birthday. Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, the pre-race favorite, was 2nd overall, 1:12 back, with Vinokourov's teammate Andrey Kashechkin third, at 3:12. Milram's antique sprinter, Erik Zabel, showed he's still got some gas with a win in the Vuelta's final stage on Sunday. Also: | First Grand Tour for Vinokourov; another stage win for Zabel | Results | Overall Standings | Photo Gallery | Vuelta a España Stage 21

Posted by Frank Steele on September 18, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Erik Zabel, Top Stories, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Danielson wins Vuelta stage, Vinokourov takes race lead

VeloNews | Danielson wins Vuelta stage; Vino' seizes lead

Danielson's big dayIt's nice to have a little racing news, as Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel took Wednesday's Stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, leading Alexandre Vinokourov across the line. Vinokourov took a 9-second lead on Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde.

Valverde doesn't want to see things go down to the final time trial on Saturday, so he told Eurosport he'll be all-out in today's final mountain stage, up the Pandera:

“Nothing is lost. Things will happen on the Pandera. You can't forget that I won here two years ago and have lots of affection for this climb.”

Danielson, who came to the Vuelta as Discovery's GC contender, couldn't hang during the early stages of the Vuelta, but rebounded to take the day after dropping 5 breakaway mates on the day's second 1st-Category climb.

Vinokourov, who has never worn a Grand Tour leader's jersey until now, was able to ride away from Valverde and Sastre on the day's last major climb after teammate Andrey Kashechkin and Jose Angel Gomez Marchante of Saunier Duval cranked up the pace to make a wicked selection. Valverde fought back onto Vino's wheel early in the descent, but the Astana leader slowly pulled away until, with 9 kilometers to ride, he had 32 seconds on Valverde, and sat 13 seconds behind Danielson.

When Vino caught Danielson, the two worked together to maximize the break, while Valverde had to do almost all the work in his small group alone, shadowed by Kashechkin. Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez attacked out of this group to take 3rd on the day.

Top 10:
1) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA
2) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, same time
3) Samuel Sanchez, Euskeltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 1:10
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 1:39
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, same time
6) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, France, s.t.
7) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, s.t.
8) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, s.t.
9) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, s.t.
10) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval, s.t.

1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, 67:29:41
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :09
3) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:51
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 2:14
5) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, at 4:32
6) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA, at 6:07
7) Manuel Beltran, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 6:33
8) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 7:25
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at 7:49
10) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, at 9:04


CyclingNews | Vinokourov and Danielson combine to unseat Valverde | Results | Photo Gallery | Vuelta a España Stage 17 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on September 14, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

Sastre Vuelta's first leader

VeloNews | Sastre leads Vuelta as CSC storms short TTT

CSC showed it's still the fastest time-trialing team in the business, as they won the unusual team time trial kickoff at the 2006 Vuelta a España. The 7.3-kilometer effort kicked off from inside the stadium in Málaga, and Magnus Backstedt told VeloNews, "It was almost like riding a team pursuit on the track. I loved it.”

The TTT added another dimension to the race, as teams had to rotate their leader to the head of their paceline for the finish line to set placings. Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi must loom large in the mirrors for Sastre, as Milram turned in an impressive 3rd, 8 seconds back, and either or both could spend time in the Maillot Oro this week.

Team finishes:
1) CSC, in 7:36
2) Caisse d'Epargne, at :07
3) Team Milram, at :08
4) Discovery Channel, at :09
5) T-Mobile, at :11
6) Astana, at :12
7) Saunier Duval-Proder, at :13
8) Credit Agricole, same time
9) Liquigas, s.t.
10) QuickStep, at :15
11) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at :18
12) Rabobank, same time
13) Gerolsteiner, at :19
14) Lampre-Fondital, at :21
15) Bouyges Telecom, at :24
16) Davitamon-Lotto, at :25
17) Phonak, at :27
18) AG2R Prevoyance, same time
19) Française des Jeux, at :28
20) Cofidis, at :30
21) Relax, at :37

CSC's 9 riders have the top 9 spots in the overall, with José Garcia Acosta of Caisse d'Epargne 10th at 7 seconds.

Also: | Team CSC muy rápido

Posted by Frank Steele on August 26, 2006 in Carlos Sastre, Top Stories, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's Vuelta time

It's time to kick off the year's 3rd grand tour, and it feels more like the 15th round of a prizefight.

Even though all riders passed their pre-Vuelta blood screens, one rider will miss the start over doping concerns. Saunier Duval-Prodir has dropped their Vuelta leader Koldo Gil on a belief that he's implicated in Operación Puerto. It apparently results from his days with Manolo Saiz and Liberty Seguros, but Saunier Duval's Joxean Fernandez told AS (in Spanish) “we don't want to take any risks over a potential problem that has nothing to do with us.” Gil rode strongly at the Tour of Switzerland, coming second to Jan Ullrich.

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, back from a broken collarbone at the Tour de France, is the race favorite, with Tour winner-in-waiting Oscar Pereiro as his superdomestique.

CSC's Carlos Sastre has never met a grand tour he didn't like, as he takes the start of his 5th consecutive GT, last missing the 2005 Giro.

Conversely, Alexandre Vinokourov wasn't allowed to start the Tour in July, but Astana (who has signed to use BMC's funky Swiss carbon-fiber frames now that Phonak is leaving the sport) will have a full squad backing Vinokourov in the Vuelta, while wrangling continues over the future of the team's ProTour license and management.

Best hope for the United States is Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, riding his first GT as the undisputed team leader. Danielson, 28, talked with Andrew Hood of VeloNews about his Vuelta hopes.

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi is back to racing, but poormouthing his Vuelta chances, tapping teammate Erik Zabel for the sprinter's jersey. Robbie McEwen looks to join Petacchi as the 4th rider to win multiple stages of all 3 GTs in a single year -- Petacchi in 2003 as well as Miguel Poblet in 1956 and Pierino Baffi in 1958 are the others.

Reigning Vuelta champ Denis Menchov, who won the race when Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO and was stripped of the title, says the Vuelta was his “secondary objective” behind the Tour, and he doesn't “feel as sharp and this affects you physically as well.” Menchov's Rabobank squad won't be distracted trying to set Oscar Freire up for wins, as Freire pulled out earlier this week, citing a neck injury.

The TV coverage is debuting a “seatpost camera,” that will mimic the rear-facing cameras used in NASCAR, and rotate among riders daily. Also new will be in-car cameras for interviews with team directors. On the other hand, the Vuelta will dispense with publishing heart rate monitor data, since most teams wouldn't allow their key riders' data to be published. In the US, to see the coverage, you'll have to subscribe to Cycling.TV's web streaming feed.


Vuelta a España official site | (in English) | (in Spanish) | (in French) | Vuelta a España 2006 start list

Previews: CyclingNews | Cycloblog

Posted by Frank Steele on August 26, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)