Team Astana Takes Fourth Stage Victory in 2008 Vuelta
Levi Leipheimer wins second Vuelta time trial, Teammate Contador looks set to take the overall race win.
Levi Leipheimer (Team Astana) was the fastest rider in the 20th stage of the 2008 Tour of Spain, an individual mountain time trial to Alto de Navacerrada (17.1 km). For Leipheimer it is his 2nd stage victory in this Vuelta, his 8th of the season. Teammate Alberto Contador finished second, 31 seconds behind and ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). In the overall rankings Contador leads by 46 seconds to Leipheimer. With only one stage and 102 km to go, Team Astana can look forward to celebrating an additional great success with the team's own riders finishing 1st and 2nd in the overall rankings. In addition, Alberto Contador is close to making history by being the first-ever Spaniard to have won all three Grand Tours - The Giro, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
“I never thought to take back 1.17 on Alberto, but I really wanted this stage victory”, a delighted Levi Leipheimer said after the stage finish in Navacerrada. “I won two stages. Alberto did the same. We are one and two on the final podium. We showed that we are the strongest team in the world. In the overall GC I am 46 seconds behind Alberto, exactly the time he took with bonifications on me. Nevertheless, I honestly admit that Alberto Contador deserves the most this overall victory. He had to deal with all the pressure, three weeks long.”
Alberto Contador commented that “I had no super legs in the beginning of the time trial. From then on, I decided not to race for the stage win, but to consolidate my leader’s position in the general classification. I am proud to – probably - win this Tour of Spain. Since we knew in February not to be able to ride the 2008 Tour de France, this Vuelta became the main objective of the season. It caused a lot of stress, but when you accomplish the job, it provokes an undescribable feeling. Let’s hope that in tomorrow’s last stage nothing (wrong) happens so that we can give our Kazakh sponsors another big victory.”
After crossing the finish line earlier today, Alejandro Valverde (Team Caisse d'Epargne) who finished third in today's exciting mountain time trial told Roadcycling.com that "I felt very well and decided to give it all in the time trial. The result tells that I was right to do so and the fact that I finished in the same second as Contador is a great satisfaction for me. There is of course one stage left to go and I cannot forget the mistake made in the stage of Suances, who take away from me the possibility to climb tomorrow on the podium."