By Andrew Hood
Fassa Bortolo dominated the five-stage Tour of Luxembourg, but it’s Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) who’s sneaking away with the trophy Sunday.
Fassa Bortolo won three stages in four days, but Bodrogi was just fast enough in the deciding time trial to secure the overall victory by just 0.13 seconds. The deciding stage was Saturday’s 10.8km time trial when Fassa’s young gun Fabian Cancellara won, but couldn’t quite make up enough time to Bodrogi. Despite winning the stage, the difference remained less than a half-second in the overall.
An early breakaway Sunday ruined Cancellara’s chances of taking intermediate time bonuses to snatch the overall crown away from the Hungarian. Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) won ahead of young Finn Jukka Vastaranta (Rabobank) to take the finale. Bodrogi, meanwhile, erased a 23-second gap held by Alberto Ongarato (yes, also Fassa Bortolo) going into Saturday’s race against the clock. Young German ace sprinter Eric Baumann (T-Mobile) won the opening stage ahead of Ongarato, one of the absent Alessandro Petacchi’s favorites in the silver train. Ongarato made up for the disappointment by winning the second stage.
Fassa’s winning streak continued with Dario Frigo taking a tough climbing stage ahead of teammates Ongarato and Kim Kirchen in stage three before Cancellara won the time trial. Tour of Luxembourg, Stage 5, Wiltz to Diekirch, 155 km
1. Bram Schmitz (Ned), T-Mobile 3h54:26
2. Jukka Vastaranta (Fin), Rabobank
3. Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita), Fassa Bortolo – both same time
4. Dario Frigo (Ita), Fassa Bortolo +0:08
5. Johan Coenen (Bel), MrBookmaker.com +0:14
Final overall standings
1. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Credit Agricole 15h35:14
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Fassa Bortolo
3. Jukka Vastaranta (Fin), Rabobank +0:08
4. Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita), Fassa Bortolo +0:10
5. Maxime Monfort (Bel), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago +0:19
Jiménez holds on in Bicicleta Vasca
Even with a seven-minute head start to the main favorites, Spanish mountain goat Eladio Jiménez still had his work cut out for him to win the hilly Bicicleta Vasca.
The Comunidad Valenciana rider won the seven-climb second stage after slipping away with the decisive 10-man break but had to suffer through a crash and a tough time trial (hardly his specialty) in Saturday’s split stage.
Massimiliano Gentili (Naturino-Sapore di Mare) won Sunday’s finale up the Cat. 1 Usartza climb while Jiménez stayed upright to hold off some late challenges.
“This victory means a lot to me because I had some unfinished business with this race,” said Jiménez, referring to his horrendous crash on the Alto de Arrate climb in the 2000 edition when he broke his femur in a post-stage crash looking for the team hotel. “The team worked great for me the entire race.” Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros), meanwhile, scored a pair of victories in the five-day race across northern Spain’s Basque Country that saw defending champion and teammate Roberto Heras head to France to race the Dauphiné Libéré instead. Peio Arreitunandia (Barloworld) took an impressive win ahead of veteran Jabian Jekker (Saunier Duval) in stage 3 that featured no less than six rated climbs. David Herrero delivered a win for hometown favorite Euskaltel-Euskadi in Saturday’s afternoon time trial section while Jiménez crashed in the morning sector, missing the winning 18-man break, and saw his lead shaved by more than half going into Sunday’s finale. Bicicleta Vasca, Stage 5, Abadiño to Arrate, 154.8km
1. Massimiliano Gentili (Ita), Naturino-Sapore di Mare 4h01:01
2. Iñigo Cuesta (Spa), Saunier Duval +0:32
3. Aitor Hernández (Spa), Team L.P.R. +0:44
4. Peio Arreitunandia (Spa), Team Barloworld
5. Fabian Jeker (Swi), Saunier Duval – all same time
Final overall standings
1. Eladio Jiménez (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana 18h33:48
2. Adrian Palomares (Spa), Kaiku +1:33
3. Aketza Peña (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi +3:15
4. Peio Arreitunandia (Spa), Team Barloworld +4:30
5. Aitor Gonzalez (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi +5:04
Ullrich on the rise in weekend racing
Jan Ullrich showed hints of strong form in a pair of weekend races that saw him fighting – but coming up just short – for the spoils.
While Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) and many of the other Tour favorites are strutting their stuff in the Dauphiné Libéré, Ullrich was racing in northern Switzerland and Germany over the weekend.
“It’s going fine,” an upbeat Ullrich said despite losing a three-up sprint Sunday. “For the first time this year I’m standing on a podium. This shows my form is on the rise. I’m still not 100 percent, but it’s still four weeks to the Tour.”
The 1997 Tour de France was second in Sunday’s GP Aargau and fifth in Saturday’s GP Schwarzwald in a pair of persuasive performances for the T-Mobile captain. He’ll race to defend his title at the Tour de Suisse later this month.
“Jan rode excellent, but he was on his own in the finale. That’s why he lacked the energy for the decisive final centimetres to win,” said Valerio Piva.
Alexandre Moos (Phonak) was the man who beat Ullrich on Sunday while German wunderkind Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) took the honors in Saturday’s Schwarzwald race.
GP Aargau, Switzerland, 190km
1. Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems, 4:54:39 (39.91 kph)
2. Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team
3. Marcel Strauss (Swi) Gerolsteiner – both same time
4. Pascquale Muto (Ita) Miche +0:17
5. Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française Des Jeux +0:19