Vuelta a Espana

Bennati wins Vuelta opener; Danielson crashes out

[nid:40251]Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) picked up where he left off, putting a nice bookend victory in Saturday’s 154.4km opener at the Vuelta a España to go along with his triumph in the final stage on the Champs Elysées at the Tour de France. The brawny Italian hitched a ride on Milram’s setup train and out-kicked a superstar field to win for the eighth time this season ahead of three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), who came through third.

By Andrew Hood

...but it was more than adequate.

…but it was more than adequate.


Bennati picks up where he left off.

Bennati picks up where he left off.

Photo: Graham Watson

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) picked up where he left off, putting a nice bookend victory in Saturday’s 154.4km opener at the Vuelta a España to go along with his triumph in the final stage on the Champs Elysées at the Tour de France.

The brawny Italian hitched a ride on Milram’s setup train and out-kicked a superstar field to win for the eighth time this season ahead of three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), who came through third.

“I was really motivated to come to this Vuelta and I’m happy to win the stage against such an important peloton of sprinters,” said Bennati, who won in 3h43:09 (41.246kph). “Milram gave me the perfect armchair sprint. With them there, it was easier for me to get in the front. These big, wide-open roads are perfect for me.”

While it was a golden day for Bennati, who slipped into the Vuelta’s maillot dorado race leader’s jersey, it was dark for American Tom Danielson and Bennati’s Lampre-Fondital teammate Damiano Cunego.

The winner of a mountain stage in last year’s Vuelta, Danielson crashed midway through the stage and abandoned with what was thought to be a broken collarbone. Danielson was transported to a local hospital for observation and was not immediately available for comment.

Cunego got back to the peloton

Cunego got back to the peloton

Photo: Graham Watson

Former Giro d’Italia champ Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) also fell hard in the same crash, but was able to finish the stage. Cunego suffered deep gashes to his left elbow, hip and knee that would likely require stitches.

“I stopped for a call of nature, but when I came back to the bunch, I saw Tom and Cunego on the ground. Tom wasn’t able to carry on and it sounded like a broken collarbone,” said Discovery Channel teammate Chechu Rubiera. “Two of the top riders for GC are hurt – that’s not good for the Vuelta.”

Sunny Vuelta sendoff
The Danielson KO put a dark note on an otherwise spectacular day of racing over the green hills of Spain’s lush Galicia region.

The region’s typically cloudy and rainy weather gave way to brilliantly sunny skies as 189 riders from 21 teams lined in the bustling port city of Vigo to kick-start the season’s third grand tour.

No clear fav's in this bunch.

No clear fav’s in this bunch.

Photo: Graham Watson

The 62nd Vuelta started without a clear favorite, but there’s no lack of candidates anxious to step into the void.

The race began bereft of its top-three podium finishers from last year, with winner Alexander Vinokourov and third-place man Andrey Kashechkin both failing anti-doping controls for blood doping.

Runnerup Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) bypassed the Vuelta to focus on the world championships, but he’s now the focus of a new inquiry on alleged links to Operación Puerto and was told by the UCI he won’t be allowed to in Stuttgart.

Ready to step up are a bevy of Spanish riders and a handful of foreigners who could challenge for the “golden jersey” when the Vuelta ends on the streets of Madrid on Sept. 23.

Leading the Spanish Armada are Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Angel Gómez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) while riders such as Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) could tip the race in their favor.

The day's break rolls away... but never got more than 3:20 on the field.

The day’s break rolls away… but never got more than 3:20 on the field.

Photo: Graham Watson

“This is the first time I’ve come to the Vuelta in top form with motivation to try to win,” said Pereiro, who lives in nearby Mons. “The Tour didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I did my homework in August and, to tell the truth, I’ve never felt stronger.”

Pereiro received the biggest cheers, but it was from Spanish continental team Relax-GAM in the form of Jorge García Marín who uncorked the 2007 Vuelta’s first attack in typical Vuelta fashion – just 1km after the start gun.

More attempts fizzled until Serafin Martínez Acevedo (Karpin-Galicia), Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) and Geoffrey Lequatre (Cofidis) tore away at 25km to form the day’s main breakaway.

Martínez led the way over the day’s two obstacles – a pair of Cat. 3 in the opening 100km of racing – to grab the Vuelta’s first King of the Mountain jersey.

“It was a perfect day for the team. We were in the escape and we won the climber’s jersey,” said Valery Karpin, former the soccer player who’s sponsoring the Karpin-Galicia continental team. “That’s not bad for our first day in a grand tour. The only thing that could have made it better would be if the escape would have stayed away.”

The chase wasn't furious...

The chase wasn’t furious…

Photo: Graham Watson

Any break’s chances were slim with the presence of such sprinters as Freire, Petacchi and Tom Boonen (QuickStep-Innergetic) and the chance to snag the leader’s jersey in what’s atypical start of a grand tour with a road stage instead of a prologue.

Martínez fought the good fight, but was reeled in on the second of two laps on a 9km finishing circuit to set up the mass gallop.

Milram took control of the chase too keep Martínez within easy reach and then put its train on the front of the pack to try to launch Petacchi, back to racing after being forced out of the Tour.

Erik Zabel gave Petacchi a solid leadout, but Bennati came off Petacchi’s wheel with about 100m to go to hold off “AleJet” and to snag his 27th career victory.

Cunego hopes to be back on Sunday

Cunego hopes to be back on Sunday

Photo: Graham Watson

“Now I will try to defend the jersey until Lagos (the climbing stage on day four). This is the first time I’ve been in the leader’s jersey of a big stage race,” said Bennati. “I’m not sure how long I will stay in the Vuelta, so I don’t know if I can win Madrid. I’d love to try to race the world championships. I’d be stupid not to think I’d have a chance in Stuttgart.”

The sprinters should hold court in the 148.7km second stage from Allariz to Santiago de Compostela. There’s one Cat. 3 climb at 72km in the undulating stage over the green hills of Galicia.

62nd Vuelta a España, Stage 1, Vigo-Vigo, 153.4kmStage winner Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital)Race leader BennatiPoints jersey BennatiClimber’s jersey Serafin Martínez Acevedo (Karpin-Galicia)Combined jersey Geoffroy Lequatre (Cofidis)Best team Bouygues TelecomPeloton 188 rider – 1 DNF Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel)

1. Daniele Bennati (I) Lampre
2. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank
3. Alesandro Petacchi (I), Milram
4. Allan Davis (Aus), Discovery
5. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step
6. Aurélien Clerc (Swi), Bouygues Telecom
7. Koldo FernÁndez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Erik Zabel (G), Milram
9. Rony Martias (F), Bouygues Telecom
10. Leonardo Duque (Col), Cofidis
Full ResultsTo see how today’s stage developed, simply CLICK HERE to open our Live Update Window.

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Results-Stage 1
1. Daniele Bennati (I), Lampre, 145km in 3:43:09

2. Óscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank

3. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram

4. Allan Davis (Aus), DSC

5. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

6. Aurélien Clerc (Swi), Bouygues Telecom

7. Koldo FernÁndez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

8. Erik Zabel (G), Milram

9. Rony Martias (F), Bouygues Telecom

10. Leonardo Duque (Col), Cofidis

11. André Greipel (G), T-Mobile

12. Aliaksandr Usau (Blr), Ag2r Prevoyance

13. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe), CSC

14. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas

15. Mark Renshaw (Aus), Credit Agricole

16. Francesco Chicchi (I), Liquigas

17. Carlos Da Cruz (F), Francaise des Jeux

18. Alan PÉrez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

19. Inaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

20. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Rabobank

21. Daniel Moreno (Sp), REG

22. Christopher Horner (USA), Predictor-Lotto

23. Roy Sentjens (B), Predictor-Lotto

24. Erki PÜtsep (Est), Bouygues Telecom

25. Luis PÉrez RodrÍguez (Sp), ACA

26. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), DSC

27. Sebastian Langeveld (Nl), Rabobank

28. Jorge GarcÍa MarÍn (Sp), REG

29. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto

30. Ludovic Turpin (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

31. David GarcÍa (Sp), KGZ

32. Angelo Furlan (I), Credit Agricole

33. Stijn Devolder (B), DSC

34. Ezequiel Mosquera (Sp), KGZ

35. Alessandro Vanotti (I), Liquigas

36. Iker CamaÑo (Sp), Saunier Duval

37. J. Ángel GÓmez Marchante (Sp), Saunier Duval

38. Samuel SÁnchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

39. Markus Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner

40. Manuel BeltrÁn (Sp), Liquigas

41. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas

42. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Caisse d'Epargne

43. Renaud Dion (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

44. Hubert Dupont (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

45. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol), Lampre

46. Óscar Pereiro (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

47. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole

48. Roman Kreuziger (Cz), Liquigas

49. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Telecom

50. Bert Grabsch (G), T-Mobile

51. Gustavo DomÍnguez (Sp), KGZ

52. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC

53. Luis León SÁnchez (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

54. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC

55. Egoi MartÍnez (Sp), DSC

56. David LÓpez (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

57. Carlos CastaÑo (Sp), KGZ

58. David Loosli (Swi), Lampre

59. Claudio Corioni (I), Lampre

60. Rene Mandri (Est), Ag2r Prevoyance

61. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus), Caisse d'Epargne

62. Jesús HernÁndez (Sp), REG

63. Yannick Talabardon (F), Credit Agricole

64. Andrea Tonti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

65. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), Liquigas

66. Igor AntÓn (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

67. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

68. Manuel VÁzquez (Sp), ACA

69. Maxime Monfort (B), Cofidis

70. Alexander Kolobnev (Rus), CSC

71. Mathieu Claude (F), Bouygues Telecom

72. Christophe Brandt (B), Predictor-Lotto

73. Eduard Vorganov (Rus), KGZ

74. Juan Manuel Garate (Sp), Quick Step-Innergetic

75. Joost Posthuma (Nl), Rabobank

76. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Ag2r Prevoyance

77. David De La Fuente (Sp), Saunier Duval

78. Scott Davis (Aus), T-Mobile

79. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank

80. Wim Van Huffel (B), Predictor-Lotto

81. Geert Verheyen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

82. Jean Marc Marino (F), Credit Agricole

83. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), Rabobank

84. Mickael Delage (F), Francaise des Jeux

85. Arkaitz DurÁn (Sp), Saunier Duval

86. Josep JufrÉ (Sp), Predictor-Lotto

87. Christophe Kern (F), Credit Agricole

88. Rubén Lobato (Sp), Saunier Duval

89. Theo Eltink (Nl), Rabobank

90. Imanol Erviti (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

91. Raúl GarcÍa De Mateos (Sp), REG

92. Lorenzo Bernucci (I), T-Mobile

93. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), DSC

94. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

95. Giuseppe Guerini (I), T-Mobile

96. Thomas LÖvkvist (Swe), Francaise des Jeux

97. Santiago PÉrez (Sp), REG

98. Stéphane Goubert (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

99. Torsten Hiekmann (G), Gerolsteiner

100. Gustavo CÉsar (Sp), KGZ

101. Philippe Gilbert (B), Francaise des Jeux

102. Dionisio Galparsoro (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

103. Stefan Schumacher (G), Gerolsteiner

104. Magnus Backstedt (Swe), Liquigas

105. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner

106. Iñigo Landaluze (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

107. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Cofidis

108. Sébastien Minard (F), Cofidis

109. Ángel GÓmez GÓmez (Sp), Saunier Duval

110. Marco Velo (I), Milram

111. José Luis Rubiera (Sp), DSC

112. Joan Horrach (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

113. Juan Olmo (Sp), ACA

114. Jason Mccartney (USA), DSC

115. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner

116. F. José MartÍnez PÉrez (Sp), ACA

117. Manuel Ortega (Sp), ACA

118. José Luis Carrasco GÁmiz (Sp), ACA

119. Enrico Franzoi (I), Lampre

120. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC

121. Ángel Vallejo (Sp), REG

122. José Luis Arrieta (Sp), Ag2r Prevoyance

123. Stef Clement (Nl), Bouygues Telecom

124. Jérémy Roy (F), Francaise des Jeux

125. Stephan Schreck (G), T-Mobile

126. Morris Possoni (I), Lampre

127. Adam Hansen (Aus), T-Mobile

128. Alberto Ongarato (I), Milram

129. Andrea Moletta (I), Gerolsteiner

130. Niki Terpstra (Nl), Milram

131. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas

132. Andreas Klier (G), T-Mobile

133. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

134. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Credit Agricole

135. José Ruiz SÁnchez (Sp), ACA

136. Tim Klinger (G), Gerolsteiner

137. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Credit Agricole

138. Chris SÖrensen (Dk), CSC

139. Xabier Zandio (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

140. Carlos Barredo (Sp), Quick Step-Innergetic

141. Mauricio Ardila (Col), Rabobank

142. Marc De Maar (Nl), Rabobank

143. Ian Mcleod (RSA), Francaise des Jeux

144. Nácor Burgos (Sp), REG

145. Michael Blaudzun (Dk), CSC

146. Matej Jurco (SVK), Milram

147. Bart Dockx (B), Predictor-Lotto

148. Javier MegÍas Leal (Sp), Saunier Duval

149. Bingen FernÁndez (Sp), Cofidis

150. Mario Aerts (B), Predictor-Lotto

151. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval

152. Davide Vigano (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

153. Johannes FrÖlingher (G), Gerolsteiner

154. David Herrero (Sp), KGZ

155. Sergio Paulinho (P), DSC

156. Volodymir Gustov (Ukr), CSC

157. Rémy Pauriol (F), Credit Agricole

158. Philip Deignan (IRL), Ag2r Prevoyance

159. Santos GonzÁlez (Sp), KGZ

160. Aitor HernÁndez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

161. Bert Roesems (B), Predictor-Lotto

162. André Korff (G), T-Mobile

163. Tom Stamsnidjer (Nl), Gerolsteiner

164. Giovanni Bernaudeau (F), Bouygues Telecom

165. J. Antonio LÓpez Gil (Sp), ACA

166. Francisco Terciado (Sp), REG

167. Jesús Rosendo Prado (Sp), ACA

168. José Vicent GarcÍa Acosta (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

169. Jussi Veikkanen (FIN), Francaise des Jeux

170. Iñigo Cuesta (Sp), CSC

171. Geoffroy Lequatre (F), Cofidis

172. Maryan Hary (F), Cofidis

173. Al FernÁndez De La Puebla (ert), SP

174. Martin MÜller (G), Milram

175. Damien Monier (F), Cofidis

176. Stéphane Auge (F), Cofidis

177. Addy Engels (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic

178. Marco Marzano (I), Lampre

179. Cyrille Monnerais (F), Francaise des Jeux, all same time

180. Elia Rigotto (I), Milram, at 0:31

Overall Points
1. Daniele Bennati (I), Lampre – Fondital, 25 Pts.

2. Óscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, 20 Pts.

3. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Team Milram, 16 Pts.

4. Allan Davis (Aus), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 14 Pts.

5. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step – Innergetic, 12 Pts.

6. Aurélien Clerc (Swi), Bouygues Telecom, 10 Pts.

7. Koldo FernÁndez (Sp), Euskaltel – Euskadi, 9 Pts.

8. Erik Zabel (G), Team Milram, 8 Pts.

9. Rony Martias (F), Bouygues Telecom, 7 Pts.

10. Leonardo Duque (Col), Cofidis, le credit par telepho, 6 Pts.

11. André Greipel (G), T- Mobile Team, 5 Pts.

12. Aliaksandr Usau (Blr), AG2R Prevoyance, 4 Pts.

13. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe), Team CSC, 3 Pts.

14. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas, 2 Pts.

15. Mark Renshaw (Aus), Credit Agricole, 1 Pts.