Four Americans in top 10

By Andrew Hood

Contador takes the opener at Castilla y León

Photo: Graham Watson

Alberto Contador and his Astana teammates aren’t going to the Tour de France this summer, so they look intent on winning everything else instead.

Just a day after Tomas Vaitkus sprinted to victory in Holland, last year’s Tour champ surged to an impressive time trial victory to open the Vuelta a Castilla y León on Monday in northern Spain.

Contador stopped the clock on the technical 9.7km course in 11 minutes, 39 seconds, just 3.6 seconds faster than Tour of California champ and Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer.

Contador started last as defending champion and looked back at his time and pumped his right fist into the air as he crossed the line. You could almost hear him say, “Take that, ASO.”

Castilla y León Stage 1: Leipheimer came close

Photo: Graham Watson

Leipheimer led a strong American showing in the five-day race, with Jason McCartney (CSC) stopping the clock in fourth at 15 seconds off the pace with Christian Vande Velde and Steven Cozza (both Slipstream-Chipotle) settling in for sixth and seventh, respectively. Tyler Farrar (Slipstream) was just out of the top 10 in 11th.

The otherwise modest Castilla y León tour attracted an all-star field, including Astana’s A-team with Contador, Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden.

Also lining up were Carlos Sastre (CSC), Thomas Dekker and Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Mauricio Soler (Barloworld), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and a motivated Slipstream-Chipotle squad. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne) was a late scratch due to illness.

Castilla y León Stage 1: Vande Velde comes in for sixth, at 0:22.

Photo: Graham Watson

The technical, twisting course opened with a short climb quickly followed by an endless series of turns that didn’t fit the bill of the typical time trial seen in Spain. The stage ended in front of the summer palace of the Spanish kings at San Ildefonso, but it had all the look of winter with dreary skies and traces of snow.

Chris Horner (Astana) set an early fast time of 12:11 on a cold afternoon a day after the season’s worst winter storm blew through northern Spain to leave behind snow-covered mountains, cloudy skies and brisk temperatures.

Horner’s ride in the hot seat lasted until McCartney blew through with a time 17 seconds faster than his compatriot, before Dekker nipped that by just under two seconds faster in a time of 11:52.

Leipheimer blew through the course in his first race in Europe this year to knock nearly 10 seconds off Dekker’s time to post 11:43 and looked to have the win in the bag as none of the late finishers could touch his time.

The last rider out of the gate was Contador, winner of last year’s edition in what was his breakout year that culminated in his Tour victory last July.

Slipstream-Chipotle put three riders into the top 11, with Christian Vande Velde sixth at 22 seconds slower, Steven Cozza seventh at 25 seconds off the pace and Tyler Farrar 11th at 30 seconds adrift. The solid rides put the team into second in the team’s classification behind Astana.

The 23rd Vuelta a Castilla y León continues Tuesday with the 141.7km second stage in a bumpy route from Segovia to Ávila. The stage tackles three Category 2 climbs, with the final climb coming 19km before the finish into the walled city of Ávila.

Photo Gallery


Results – Stage 1
1. Alberto Contador (Sp), Astana 9.7km in 11:39 (49.95kph),
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 0:04
3. Thomas Dekker (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:13
4. Jason McCartney (USA), CSC, at 0:15
5. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:19
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:22
7. Steven Cozza (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:25
8. Moises Duenas Nevado (Sp), Barloworld, at 0:28
9. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, at 0:28
10. Mauricio Soler (Col), Barloworld, at 0:28
11. Tyler Farrar (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:30
12. Andreas Kloden (Ger), Astana, at 0:30
13. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, at 0:32
14. Inigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Sp), CSC, at 0:34
15. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Sp), Astana, at 0:35
16. Ruben Plaza (Sp), Benfica, at 0:35
17. Huub Duyn (Nl), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:36
18. Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Col), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:38
19. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:38
20. Francisco Perez Sanchez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:39
21. Carlos Sastre Candil (Sp), CSC, at 0:39
22. Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 0:41
23. Gonzalo Rabunal Rios (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 0:41
24. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 0:41
25. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col), Rabobank, at 0:41
26. Arnaud Coyot (F), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:42
27. David Canada Garcia (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 0:42
28. Inaki Isasi Flores (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:43
29. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:43
30. Dionisio Galparsoro Martinez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:44
31. Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Sp), Astana, at 0:44
32. Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 0:45
33. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, at 0:46
34. Bauke Mollema (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:47
35. Jose Ruiz Sanchez (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 0:47
36. Jaume Rovira Pous (Sp), Extremadura, at 0:47
37. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:48
38. Jonathan Patrick Mc Carty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:48
39. John-Lee Augustyn (RSA), Barloworld, at 0:49
40. Eloy Teruel Rovira (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 0:49
41. Jose Antonio Redondo (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 0:53
42. Xabier Zandio Echaide (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:53
43. Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (P), Astana, at 0:54
44. Iker Camano (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 0:54
45. Francesco Bellotti (I), Barloworld, at 0:54
46. Felix Rafael Cardenas Ravalo (Col), Barloworld, at 0:55
47. Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:56
48. Jose Vicente Toribio (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 0:56
49. Ivan Melero Coco (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 0:57
50. Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 0:57
51. Jose Rujano Guillen (Vz), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:57
52. Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil (Sp), Astana, at 0:57
53. Jonathan Castroviejo (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 0:57
54. Christian Pfannberger (Aut), Barloworld, at 0:57
55. Daniel Martin (Irl), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:58
56. Danail Andonov (Bul), Benfica, at 0:58
57. Aitor Perez Arrieta (Sp), Extremadura, at 0:59
58. Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 1:00
59. David Martin Velasco (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 1:01
60. Markel Irizar Aranburu (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:01
61. Daniel Sesma (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 1:01
62. Jose Luis Carrasco Gamiz (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 1:02
63. Volodymir Gustov (Ukr), CSC, at 1:02
64. Rui Da Costa (P), Benfica, at 1:02
65. Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus), Rabobank, at 1:02
66. David De La Fuente Rasilla (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 1:03
67. Rafael Serrano Fernandez (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 1:03
68. Roberto Traficante (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 1:06
69. Alberto Fernandez (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 1:06
70. Koldo Fernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:06
71. Iban Mayoz (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 1:06
72. Ramon Troncoso Sobrino (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 1:07
73. Jan Boven (Nl), Rabobank, at 1:08
74. Joan Horrach Rippoll (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 1:08
75. Chris Anker Sorensen (Dk), CSC, at 1:08
76. Rigoberto Uran (Col), Caisse d’Epargne, at 1:08
77. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg), CSC, at 1:09
78. Luis Roberto Alvarez Martin (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 1:10
79. Manuel Ortega Ocana (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 1:10
80. Eduard Vorganov (Rus), Karpin Galicia, at 1:10
81. Jose Azevedo (Sp), Benfica, at 1:10
82. Mikel Nieve (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 1:10
83. Eladio Sanchez (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 1:11
84. Giampaolo Cheula (I), Barloworld, at 1:12
85. Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 1:12
86. Martin Mata Cabello (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 1:12
87. Amets Txurruka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:12
88. Hector González (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 1:12
89. Jesus Rosendo Prado (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 1:13
90. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), CSC, at 1:14
91. Edgar Pinto (P), Benfica, at 1:15
92. Jose Mendes (P), Benfica, at 1:15
93. Mikel Pradera Rodriguez (Sp), Benfica, at 1:15
94. Nazareno Rossi (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 1:16
95. Enrique Salgueiro (Sp), Extremadura, at 1:17
96. Danielli Nardello (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 1:18
97. Javier Moreno Bazan (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 1:18
98. Gustavo Dominguez Lemos (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 1:18
99. Andoni Lafuente (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:22
100. Ruben Lobato Elvira (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 1:22
101. Aitor Olano (Sp), Orbea-Oreka, at 1:23
102. Leonardo Moser (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 1:24
103. Juan Francisco Mouron Doldan (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 1:24
104. Israel Perez Rodriguez (Sp), Extremadura, at 1:25
105. Javier Mejías Leal (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 1:25
106. Yon Bru Pascal (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:26
107. Josu Mondelo (Sp), Extremadura, at 1:27
108. Eriz Ruiz d’Erentxun (Sp), Orbea-Oreka
109. Danilo Hondo (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 1:33
110. Joaquin Sobrino Martinez (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 1:38
111. Alberto Fernandez (Sp), Karpin Galicia, at 1:39
112. Alberto Rodriguez Oliver (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 1:39
113. Jose Antonio Lopez Gil (Sp), Andalucía-Cajasur, at 1:39
114. Oscar Pujol (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 1:40
115. Hugo Sancho (P), Benfica, at 1:41
116. Jesus Ramirez Torres (Sp), Extremadura, at 1:45
117. Marco Corti (I), Barloworld, at 1:46
118. Ruben Reig Conejero (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 1:47
119. Diego Gallego Arnaiz (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 1:47
120. Rafael Rodriguez (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 1:50
121. Ignacio Sarabia Diaz (Mex), Extremadura, at 2:00
122. Xabat Otxotorena (Sp), Extremadura, at 2:02
123. Manuel Belletti (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 2:04
124. Pedro Gutierrez Alvarez (Sp), Burgos Monumental, at 2:08
125. Roberto Cobo Gonzalez (Sp), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 2:09
126. Jorge Sanchez Pimienta (Sp), Contentpolis-Murcia, at 2:18
127. Denis Bertolini (I), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, at 2:43