Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tour of Valencia Stage 2 - Contador Sits In 5th

With five climbs on tap in the second stage of the 66th Tour of Valencia, 134 riders took to the roads under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70sF. With a fast start many early breaks tried to get away and eventually a group of three got clear and included Tim Duggan (Slipstream) and Gustavo Cesar (Karpin-Galicia). The trio stayed away and built a maximum gap of just over four minutes. Led by race leader Iván Gutiérrez' team Caisse d'Epargne the escapees were caught within 8km of the finish.

After missing yesterday's opportunity to sprint to the line, the teams of the sprinters took full control of the race and moved to the front, increasing the speeds to ward off further attacks as they rolled toward the line. Following his lead-out train and taking the stage win by almost a bike length was 37-year old veteran sprint specialist Erik Zabel (Milram) in front of Micro Lorenzetto (Lampre) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis). There was no change at the top of the leader board with Gutiérrez retaining the leader's jersey for another day. Team Astana's Alberto Contador sits in 5th place just nine seconds back, followed by teammate Toni Colom at 10 seconds off the front.

Thursday's stage offers more mountain-fun with three Cat. 2 and one Cat. 3 climb which could prove a launching pad for the climbers who hope to move up on GC.

According to Team Astana's DS Alain Gallopin, "On the first stage the team was very good and we prepared the attack of Alberto in the last climb. He put in the attack but didn't continue because he had five Bouygues Telecom riders just behind him and it was still 25 km to go to the finish. But it was good training and the guys showed good team work." He continued, "Today was an easy day for us. Caisse d'Epargne and sprinters' team took the control. All of the team came in with the first group. Thursday will be very difficult on the second half of the stage so we'll see how it goes."

General Classification after stage 2
1 Iván Gutiérrez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 8.18.11
2 Rubén Plaza (Spa) Benfica 0.04
3 Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.06
4 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 0.09

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