Leopard-Trek Takes Stage 1 of Vuelta
Team Leopard-Trek has won Stage 1 of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana.
Leopard-Trek has won Stage 1 of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana. The Luxembourg squad led throughout the technical, 13.5-km team time trial in Benedorm to win in 16:30. Liquigas-Cannondale finished second at 0:04, and HTC-Highroad took third at 0:09. Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek) is the race's first red jersey.
Leopard-Trek was one of the early starters, and its performance put pressure on the remaining competitors. Liquigas-Cannondale, which has defending champion Vincenzo Nibali in its ranks, was the last starter. The Italian squad, like the Luxembourg outfit, finished with five riders and put its team captain in a good position.
HTC-Highroad, which was led by German time trial champion and former world time trial champion Bert Grabsch, rode well and claimed third place. The American squad finished with six riders.
Astana turned in a good ride. For a time, the Kazakh outfit was in second place. Liquigas-Cannondale and HTC-Highroad, however, bumped Astana down to fourth place.
A few teams had misfortunes. RadioShack hopeful Janez Brajkovic slipped his chain at the start, which required the team to wait for him. RadioShack finished 14th at 0:28. Geox-TMC, which was riding for two-time Vuelta champion Denis Menchov and 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, finished second to last at 0:43. Sky, which was riding on behalf of Bradley Wiggins, had two riders crash at the outset. At one point, the British squad was down to four riders. It finished 20th of 22 teams at 0:42.
In the overall, Fuglsang leads teammates Fabian Cancellara and Maxime Monfort. Stage 2 will be a start with a climb, but most of the 174-km run from La Nucia to Playas de Orihuela will be flat. This should set up a sprint finish. Who will win? Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo)? Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)? Oscar Freire (Rabobank)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!