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Rock Racing’s Mancebo leads Vuelta Mexico TelMex as Spidertech’s Parisien takes stage 2

Parisien in a team photo.

Francois Parisien (Spidertech-Planet Energy) powered away from a four-man breakaway in the final 300 meters of stage 2 at the Vuelta Mexico Telmex Monday to take his first UCI win of 2010. Parisien dropped his break companions, who included new overall leader Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) and Valeriy Kobzarenko (Team Type 1), on the upper reaches of the steep finish ramp in the town of Xalapa.

Stage 2 was the first in a series of mostly uphill days for riders as the eight-day race climbs from sea level along the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico City. Monday’s 108-kilometer stage climbed from the coastal town of Veracruz to Xalapa, an increase of nearly 1300 meters, largely gained over the final 50 kilometers.

With a compact general classification, the peloton was not interested in allowing an early breakaway to escape over the largely flat highways in the early going. As the group reached the lower reaches of the day’s late climbs, the Rock duo of Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla lit the fuse, hurling attacks at the thinning field.

When the peloton covered a Mancebo-led move with approximately 45k remaining, the Spaniard doubled up, getting the gap that would eventually balloon to nearly three minutes.

“As soon as the peloton came back, Mancebo re-attacked and took off with (Colombian Edwin Arnulfo of the Pride of America Boyaca team) and Kobzarenko,” said Parisien. “These guys were gaining time really fast and I reacted right away from the peloton and was the only guy that was able to bridge across.”

Kobzarenko, whose Team Type 1 teammate Aldo Ino Ilesic wore the leader’s jersey, sat at the back of the group for 20 kilometers. But when the break’s lead eclipsed 2:30, Kobzarenko began working and the foursome rolled smoothly into the finish town. At that point, Mancebo went to the front and pulled his companions to the finish and the jersey onto his back.

“Mancebo knew that he was going to get the yellow jersey at that point, so he just put himself at the front and basically the two last kilometers he rode by himself,” said Parisien.

As the group rode onto the steep, 500-meter finish ramp, Parisien sat second wheel behind Mancebo, biding his time.

“When we crossed 500 meters to go, I told myself in my head that, ‘If nobody goes at 300, I’m going,’ because I knew that I’m very punchy and I knew that an uphill like that was perfect for me,” said Parisien.

When the group was together at 300 meters, Parisien did just that, jumping away from his rivals to build a quick gap. With 20 meters to go, he looked back on empty road and raised his hands in the victory salute.

“We came here racing more for stages than the overall, but now that the group of four has a minute, I’ll keep racing aggressively, but also keep in mind that I can follow these guys and try to have a shot for the overall,” said Parisien. “Everything is about the Tour of California. I really want to be prepped and be able to follow the front group at California. If I can follow these guys up the hills, I’ll be in a good situation there.”

The Vuelta Mexico Telmex continues Tuesday with the 173km third stage from Xilapa to Orizaba. The stage includes the 1100-meter climb of Coscomatepec at 50 kilometers, leading to a rolling run-in to the finish in Orizaba.

Rock’s not dead

Despite not receiving a UCI Continental team license, and not appearing at any U.S. races so far in 2010, Rock Racing has an amateur squad at the Vuelta Mexico Telmex. The team is directed by Chepe Garcia and appears to have a full support staff. Rock’s Francisco Mancebo, winner of stage 1 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, leads the GC after stage 2. His teammate Carlos Alzate was second in stage 1, behind Team Type 1’s Aldo Ino Ilsec.

Other Rock riders who started the Mexican race are Juan Pablo Magallanes, Ignacio Sarabia, Oscar Sevilla, Victor Hugo Pena, and Glen Chadwick (who won the Vuelta Mexico in 2008 of Team Type 1).

(Click here for stage 1 report and results )

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