By Andrew Hood
Eleven riders got a 24-minute head start in the five-day Tour of Burgos in Monday’s hot and sticky 177km first stage – so much so that the entire peloton was almost eliminated.
The 11-rider break pulled early, and with temperatures soaring into the high 90s, a sluggish peloton wasn’t interested in bringing them back. The main bunch finished so far back – 24 minutes, 51 seconds slower – the race jury had to overrule time limits that would have eliminated the entire peloton.
Carlos García Quesada gave beleaguered Kelme a victory when he attacked the lead group with 2km to go to claim the stage and the overall lead. Quesada came through four seconds ahead of Telekom’s Daniel Nardello while Saulius Ruskys (Marlux) led the main bunch across.
“I knew there were stronger sprinters in the break, so I knew I had to play my card before the finish line,” said Quesada, who won in 3 hours, 56 minutes, 27 seconds. “The heat is good for me. The time we have now on the peloton changes everything. We have chances to win the race now.”
Quesada’s win is a shot in the arm for Kelme, which endured an unimpressive Tour de France without star Oscar Sevilla. Last week at the Tour of Portugal, the entire team pulled out sick just days after the news broke that one of its riders – Javier Pascual Llorente – was the lone racer to test positive for EPO at the Tour.
Quesada joined 10 other riders who attacked in the opening kilometers of the rolling stage from Burgos to Miranda de Ebro in sun-baked northern Spain.
Joining Quesada in the break were: Nardello, Pablo Lastras (iBanesto.com), Mikel Pradera (ONCE), Daniel Atienza (Cofidis), Giampaolo Cheula (Caldirola), Iker Flores (Euskaltel), Nico Sijmens (Vlaanderen), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo), Domingo Sanchez (Paternina) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak).
With most of the major teams represented, only Division II Spanish teams Relax and Labarca were interested in trying to limit the damage. The break worked a good pace line and roared toward the finish with an ever-widening gap. Atienza was the first to attack with 6km to go, but Lastras and Nardello reeled him in before Quesada made his winning move.
Strong climbers in the leading 11, such as Quesada, Nardello and Lastras, will have chances to hang onto their head-start in Tuesday’s difficult climbing stage, 169km from Briviesca to Poza de la Sal. The stage hits the Category 2 Alto de Portillo at 137km and ends with the Cat. 1 summit finish to Altorero.
25th Tour of Burgos, Stage 1, Burgos to Miranda de Ebro, 177km
1. Carlos García Quesada (Sp), Kelme, 3 hours, 56 minutes, 27 seconds, 44.91 kph
2. Daniele Nardello (I), Telekom +0:04
3. Mikel Pradera (Sp), ONCE
4. Pablo Lastras (Sp), iBanesto.com
5. Giampaolo Cheula (I), Caldirola – all same time
116. Bobby Julich (USA), Telekom +24:50
118. Floyd Landis (USA), USPS – same time
DNS – Christian Vande Velde, USPS
Gamito wins stage, Lavarinhas takes over Portugal lead
Vitor Gamito (Cantanhede) of Portugal won Monday’s 136.5km mountainous stage from Colvilha to Gouveia in the 65th Tour of Portugal.
Compatriot Rui Lavarinhas (Milaneza-MSS) finished second in the stage to take over the race leader’s yellow jersey while Spain’s Ezequiel Mosquera (Cantanhede) came across the line third at 2:04 back.
Defending champion Claus Moller (Milaneza-MSS) finished ninth at 2:29 back and sits in fourth overall at 2:19 back after the peloton was broken up coming over two Category 1 climbs stacked up within 6km of each other.
Gamito and Lavarinhas charged off the front after hitting the second Cat. 1 climb with 30km to go and hung on to fight for the spoils.
65th Volta a Portugal, Stage 6, Covilha to Gouveia, 136.5km
1. Victor Gamito (Por), Cantanhede, 3 hours, 33 minutes, 29 seconds
2. Rui Lavarinhas (Por), Milaneza-MSS – same time
3. Ezequiel Mosquera (Sp), Cantanhede +2:04
4. Hugo Victor (Por), Cantanhede +2:06
5. Nuno Ribeiro (Por), LA Pecol – same time
Overall standings after six stages
1. Rui Lavarinhas (Por), Milaneza-MSS 24 hours, 53 minutes, 3 seconds
2. Nuno Ribeiro (Por), LA Pecol +0:17
3. David Blanco (Sp), Ravessa +1:57
4. Claus Moller (Den), Milaneza-MSS +2:19
5. Nelson Vitorino (Por), Ravessa +2:48
Heras will test his form in this week’s Tour of Burgos
U.S. Postal’s Roberto Heras will test his form in this week’s Tour of Burgos, a five-day warm-up for next month’s Vuelta a España.
Heras suffered through the Tour de France with breathing problems that were never fully diagnosed by the team and hopes to rebound in time to make a run next month at the Vuelta title that’s eluded him since his breakthrough 2000 victory.
Last year’s defending champion Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com) will be back at Burgos along with other top Spanish riders such as Angel Casero (Bianchi), Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) and Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo).
Eighteen teams are starting the 670km race in and around Burgos in northern Spain. A lingering heat wave and two summit finishes will prove a challenge for the peloton.
Following a road stage to Miranda de Ebro on Monday, the course hits Category 1 summit finishes in stages 2 and 3. Stage 4 is a 14.4km individual time trial while the race concludes with a rolling road stage back to Burgos on Friday.
25th Tour of Burgos (UCI 2.1), Aug. 11-15
Stage 1, Aug. 11 – Burgos to Miranda de Ebro, 175km (Cat. 3 Alto de Valdillas)
Stage 2, Aug. 12 – Briviesca to Altotero, 169km (Cat. 2 Alto Portillo del Busto, climbed twice, Cat. 1 summit finish at Altotero)
Stage 3, Aug. 13 – Huerta del Rey to Launas de Neila, 162km (Cat. 3 Altos del Cerro Cat. 3 Arroyo, Cat. 2 Collado, Cat. 3 Arroyo, Cat. 1 summit finish at Neila)
Stage 4, Aug. 14 – Medina de Pomar, 14.4km (ITT)
Stage 5, Aug. 15 – Aranda de Duero to Burgos, 150km (Altos de Majadal, Las Arrevueltas and Los Buitres, all Cat. 3)
Spain: iBanesto.com, Paternina-Costa Almeria, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Kelme-Costa Blanca Labarca 2-Café Baque, ONCE, Relax-Fuenlabrada
Italy: Team Bianchi, Caldirola, Domina Vacanze, Fassa Bortolo
Belgium: Marlux, Vlaanderen T-Interim
USA: U.S. Postal Service
Still no Cipollini
Domina Vacanze will have two teams running this week at the Tour of Burgos and at the “Due Giorni Marchigiana” in Italy, but there’s still no Mario Cipollini.
The world champion has been keeping a low profile since his Tour de France snub, making only a few criterium appearances. There’s no word yet if the Lion King will be racing at the Vuelta a España.
Domina Vacanze for Burgos: Gian Paolo Mondini, Daniele Bennati, Giovanni Lombardi, Miguel Martin Perdiguero, Ruben Lobato, Santos Gonzalez, Filippo Simeoni and Timothy Jones.
The team for Marchigiana: Claudio Astolfi, Lorenzo Cardellini, Massimo Giunti, Alexander Kolobnev, Sergio Marinangeli, Alberto Ongarato, Kyrylo Pospeyeyv and Michele Scarponi.
Millar back for Vuelta
Brit David Millar will be back at the Vuelta a España to lead Cofidis despite his protest last year at the dreaded Angliru climb.
Millar pulled out of last year’s Vuelta in a torrential downpour after he was run over by a team car when he crashed coming down a treacherous descent to the base of the torturous Angliru climb. Millar, who recently signed a contract extension with the French team, remounted his bike to climb up the steep and narrow road, but refused to cross the tape and instead took off his race bib number on the finish line as a form of protest.
Lucky for Millar, the Angliru won’t be part of this year’s Vuelta (Sept. 6-28).
Cofidis for the Vuelta: David Millar, Frédéric Bessy, Daniel Atienza, Iñigo Cuesta, Luis Perez, Bingen Fernandez, Dimitri Fofonov, Guido Trentin and Peter Farazijn.
Virenque tackling Tour de l’Ain
Richard Virenque (Quick Step-Davitamon), second last year behind Christophe Oriol (Ag2r-Prevoyance), is among the favorites in this year’s Tour de l’Ain, which begins leaves Tuesday in Lagnieu and ends Friday in Culoz.
The mountainous profile of the race should suit Virenque, who earlier this summer won his sixth polka-dot jersey as the best climber in the Tour de France. He will be assisted in the Tour de l’Ain by Belgian teammate Franck Vandenbroucke.
The most difficult stage comes Thursday, with the Col de la Faucille (1350 meters) and a summit finish at Lélex Monts-Jura.
Other riders in attendance include Oriol; Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère); David Moncoutié (Cofidis); George Hincapie (U.S. Postal), Juan Antonio Flecha (iBanesto.com); and Peter Van Petegem, Axel Merckx and Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo).
France: Ag2r, Cofidis, BigMat, Brioches La Boulangère, Jean Delatour, fdjeux.com
Belgium: Quick Step
USA: U.S. Postal
South Africa: Barloworld
Tour de l’Ain:
Stage 1, Aug. 12 – Lagnieu-Saint-Vulbas (153km)
Stage 2. Aug. 13 – Borough-in-Bresse-Ceyzériat (166km)
Stage 3, Aug. 14 –Saint-Genis-Pouilly-Lélex Monts-Jura (155km)
Stage 4, Aug. 15 – Bellegarde-Culoz (123km)
Transfer news: Zubeldia and Van Heeswijk extend
Haimar Zubeldia and Max Van Heeswijk have both signed on to stay with their respective teams. Zubeldia, fresh off finishing fifth overall at the Tour de France, has signed a three-year contract to stay with Euskaltel-Euskadi while Van Heeswijk, 30, has signed a one-year contract extension to stay with U.S. Postal Service.
Motorcycle driver dies at Clasica
A 41-year-old Spanish man working for the race organization as a motorcycle driver in Saturday’s Clasica San Sebastian died after crashing into a traffic circle. Jose Antonio Matxain died from head injuries sustained when he fell off the motorcycle. Matxain was the son of Perico Matxain, a former pro and director in Spain’s Basque Country.