Events

Garcia Calvo takes stage 2 at Basque Tour

Despite a profile that looks like a roller coaster, a stage into Vitoriatypically finishes in a field sprint. That's because area's major climb- the Category I Alto de la Herrera - is nearly 40 km from the finish,giving the peloton plenty of time to set up their sprinters.Mapei's Stefano Zanini has been victorious here before, but the pelotonwas just 6 seconds late in pulling off the tried and true recipe in Tuesday'scold, windy stage of the 42nd Vuelta a Pais Vasco.Relax Fuenlabrada's Cesar Garcia Calvo outmaneuvered Euskaltel's UnaiEtxebarria to snatch the stage win after the pair

By Andrew Hood

Despite a profile that looks like a roller coaster, a stage into Vitoriatypically finishes in a field sprint. That’s because area’s major climb- the Category I Alto de la Herrera – is nearly 40 km from the finish,giving the peloton plenty of time to set up their sprinters.Mapei’s Stefano Zanini has been victorious here before, but the pelotonwas just 6 seconds late in pulling off the tried and true recipe in Tuesday’scold, windy stage of the 42nd Vuelta a Pais Vasco.Relax Fuenlabrada’s Cesar Garcia Calvo outmaneuvered Euskaltel’s UnaiEtxebarria to snatch the stage win after the pair successfully worked abreak.Monday’s stage-winner Beat Zberg (Rabobank) charged across the linethird in front of the main group to retain his overall lead. Bobby Julich(Telekom) finished 45th with the main bunch while Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank)was 88th at 1:36 back. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali), suffering from allergies,finished 93rd at 15:56 back.A bad fall took out Giro d’Italia favorite Francesco Casagrande, whoabandoned about 50 kilometers into the 183-km stage from Zalla to Vitoria.With Lampre’s Massimo Codol and Juan Manuel Garate attacking off thefront, Casagrande was among several riders who crashed at a rail crossingat the 12-km mark. Casagrande, the 1996 champion here, remounted his bikebut went to a hospital for X-rays after he found it too painful to continue.”I tried to continue but it hurt too much to breath,” said Casagrande,who started the day fifth overall after dominating Monday’s opening stage.”I continued for 40 kilometers but it hurt too much.”Codol continued alone and Garcia Calvo shot out to join him at 26 km.Relax-Fuenlabrada teammate Sergio Perez and CSC’s Marcelino Garcia laterbridged and it was off to the races for the stage-hunters. The quartetbuilt a 3:10-lead over the day’s first major climb, the category-two Altode la Barrerilla at 45 km. At the second climb – the category-three Altode Zaldiaran – the lead was more than 7 minutes and still more than 5 minutesover the third climb, the category two Alto de Ribas de Tereso at 120 km.The break held up and over the Herrera climb, though the lead was whittleddown to 1:35 with Rabobank and Mapei setting the pace. Ricardo Valdez (Jazztel)left the main peloton on the ascent followed by Etxebarria with 30 km togo. He quickly bridged to Valdez and the pair worked together to catchthe four riders. CSC’s Garcia faded, Etxebarria countered and only GarciaCalvo could answer.Etxebarria started the sprint with 225 meters to go and seemed to haveCalvo’s number. But Garcia Calvo – a bull of a rider who used to be a championshot-putter in high school — whipped around the Venezuelan-born Etxebarriawith 75 meters to the line and won for the first time this season.”There was a strong head wind and I waited for Etxebarria to make thefirst move,” said Garcia Calvo, who won the “meta volantes” jersey in lastyear’s Vuelta a España and got to kiss Miss España on thepodium every day for the effort. “I was afraid that Etxebarria would befresher than me, but I had a lot of motivation to win here today. It’sthe second most important race in Spain and this is an important victoryfor the team.”Etxebarria, who has no relation to his Euskaltel teammate with the samelast name, said he spent his batteries chasing down the break.”I worked hard to get to the escapees. I knew the course well enoughto get away and I was convinced I could win the stage,” he said. “Therewas a strong head wind so I went a little early and I was a little nervousin the sprint.”Cofidis’ Guido Trentin didn’t start, while Casagrande and a sick GuiseppeGuerini (Telekom) abandoned along with nine other riders and 139 ridersremain in the race.The 42nd Vuelta a Pais Vasco continues Wednesday with the 170-km third stage from Vitoria to Alsasua with a category-one climb early in the stage followed up by a category-two and two category-three climbs before a flatfinish over the final 13 kilometers.

Results

Stage Two, Vuelta a Pais Vasco:

1. Cesar Garcia Calvo (Sp), Relax-Fuenlabrada, 4:58:11 seconds (36.8
kph);

2. Unai Etxebarria (Ven), Euskaltel, same time;

3. Beat Zberg (Sui), Rabobank, 0:06;

4. Igor Astarloa (Sp), Saeco;

5. Laurent Dufaux (Sui), Alessio;

6. David Etxebarria (Sp), Euskaltel;

7. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel;

8. Cedric Vasseur (F), Cofidis;

9. Mariano Piccoli (I), Lampre;

10. Nicki Sorensen (Den), Coast, all s.t.

OTHERS: 28. Cadel Evans (Aus), Mapei, s.t.; 45. Bobby Julich
(USA), Telekom,
s.t.; 88. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Rabobank, at 1:36; 93. Tyler Hamilton (USA),
CSC-Tiscali, at 15:56

Overall standings after two stages:

1. Beat Zberg (Swiss), Rabobank, 8:31:15;

2. David Etxebarria (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.;

3. Igor Astarloa (Sp), Saeco, s.t.;

4. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.;

5. Gonzalo Bayarri (Sp), Jazztel, s.t.;

6. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, s.t.;

7. Stefano Garzelli (I), Mapei, s.t.;

8. Mario Aerts (B), Lotto, s.t.;

9. Fernando Escartin (Sp), Coast, s.t.;

10. Aitor Osa (Sp), ibanesto.com, s.t.

OTHERS:

12. Cadel Evans (Aus), Mapei, s.t.;

68. Levy Leipheimer (USA), Rabobank, s.t.;

77. Bobby Julich (USA), Telekom, s.t.;

115. Tyler Hamilton (USA), CSC-Tiscali, at 27:56