By Andrew Hood
Discovery Channel’s Yaroslav Popovych and Jason McCartney went one-two in Tuesday’s 11km individual time trial in the Vuelta al Castilla y Leon, but Alexandre Vinokourov (Liberty Seguros) grabbed the overall lead.
Heavy cross- and tailwinds prompted many of the big guns to ride with 55 rings for the mostly flat course across northern Spain’s windswept meseta. McCartney set an early fast time, only to be bested by Popovych by 1.45 seconds.
The win marks the first for Discovery Channel in Europe this season to go along with George Hincapie’s two victories in the Tour of California.
The victory for Popovych, his first of the 2006 season, indicates he’s over the knee problems that bothered him earlier this season following the team’s training camp in California.
McCartney, meanwhile, came very close to his first European pro victory. Chechu Rubiera finished seventh and Egoi Martinez was ninth in a solid day for Discovery.
Vinokourov looked to have the victory in hand after setting the fastest split time, but lost time in the second half of the course. The Kazakh stopped the clock in 13:13, but takes the overall leader’s jersey because Popovych and McCartney both lost time in the opening stage.
Moving into second is Liberty Seguros teammate Luis Leon Sanchez at four seconds slower with Rubiera tied with Vuelta a Murcia winner Santos González (3 Molinas) at five seconds back. Martinez and José Azevedo are sitting sixth and seventh, respectively, for Discovery Channel.
Overnight leader Angel Edo (Paul Versan) – who won the opening stage in a sprint finish – finished more than two minutes off the pace as the time-trial specialists took center-stage.
The five-day Castilla y Leon race continues Wednesday with a mostly flat 181km third stage from Zamora to Salamanca. Thursday’s climbing stage in the mountains near Segovia should prove decisive.
1. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Discovery Channel, at 13:01
2. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, at 0:01
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Liberty Seguros, at 0:11
4. Sergi Escobar (Sp), Grupo Nicolas Mateos, at 0:13
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Sp), Liberty Seguros, at 0:15
6. Santos Gonzalez (Sp), 3 Molinos Resort, at 0:16
7. Jose Luis Rubiera (Sp), Discovery Channel, s.t.
8. Michele Scarponi (Ita/Liberty Seguros, at 0:22
9. Egoi Martinez (Sp), Discovery Channel, at 0:23
10. Florent Brard (F), Illes Balear), at 0:25
1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Liberty Seguros, 3:58:43
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Sp), Liberty Seguros, at 0:04
3. Santos Gonzalez (Sp), 3 Molinos Resort, at 0:05
4. Jose Luis Rubiera (Sp), Discovery Channel, s.t.
5. Michele Scarponi (I), Liberty Seguros, at 0:11
6. Egoi Martinez (Sp), Discovery Channel, at 0:12
7. José Azevedo (Por), Discovery Channel, at 0:16
8. Jose Vicente Garcia-Acosta (Sp), Illes Balears) at 0:19
9. Gustavo Cesar (Sp), Kaiku, at 0:22
10. Francisco Perez (Sp), Illes Balears, at 0:27