Road

Hondo surprises ’em all in Murcia TT

It was no surprise Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) won Wednesday’s opener in a bunch sprint at the Vuelta a Murcia in Spain, but no one expected him to beat the specialists in Thursday’s 22km individual time trial. But that’s just what happened as Hondo laid down the fastest time on the flat course of 25 minutes, 35 seconds. No one even came close, with Spanish national time trial champion Rubén Plaza stopping the clock in second some 19 seconds slower. “It’s a surprise for me,” Hondo admitted. “I knew all the split times and had information from my teammates who were among the favorites. I am

By Andrew Hood

Hondo's win surprised even Hondo.

Hondo’s win surprised even Hondo.

Photo: Graham Watson

It was no surprise Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) won Wednesday’s opener in a bunch sprint at the Vuelta a Murcia in Spain, but no one expected him to beat the specialists in Thursday’s 22km individual time trial. But that’s just what happened as Hondo laid down the fastest time on the flat course of 25 minutes, 35 seconds. No one even came close, with Spanish national time trial champion Rubén Plaza stopping the clock in second some 19 seconds slower. “It’s a surprise for me,” Hondo admitted. “I knew all the split times and had information from my teammates who were among the favorites. I am very happy with this win, but the worst is still ahead with the summit finish at Collado Bermejo on Saturday. The overall victory is possible, but I will repeat it again, it won’t be easy.” Hondo’s Gerolsteiner teammates include none other than Michael Rich, Olympic champion at the Barcelona Games in 1992, and Uwe Peschel, bronze medalist at the 1995 world time trial championships. American Levi Leipheimer posted the ninth best time at 1:17 off Hondo’s pace and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) finished at 1:51 off the winning time. Friday’s 156km third stage features two Cat. 3 climbs along the course between Mula and Fortuna, presenting Hondo the chance to score the hat-trick if it comes down a bunch sprint. Vuelta a Murcia (SPA 2.1), Alhama-Alhama (ITT), 22km
1. Danilo Hondo (Ger), Gerolsteiner 25 minutes, 35 seconds
2. Rubén Plaza (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana +0:21
3. José Iván Gutiérrez (Spa), Illes Balears +0:39
4. Michael Rich (Ger), Gerolsteiner +0:50
5. Antonio Colom (Spa), Illes Balears +0:519. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Gerolsteiner +1:17
 Overall standings after two stages
Danilo Hondo (Ger), Gerolsteiner 4h12:43
2. Rubén Plaza (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana +0:21
3. José Iván Gutiérrez (Spa), Illes Balears +0:39
4. Michael Rich (Ger), Gerolsteiner +0:50
5. Antonio Colom (Spa), Illes Balears +0:51
 
9. Levi Leipheimer (USA-Gerolsteiner) a 01:17

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