By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2004
Kelme’s Alejandro Valverde won the first stage of the Tour du Pays Basque – the Tour of the Basque country – a 139km run around Bergara, on Monday.
Valverde, recent winner of the Tour of Murcia, prevailed in a sprint finish at the end of the opening day’s stage, which featured three climbs. His compatriot Angel Vicioso and Davide Rebellin of Italy filled the minor placings.
While Valverde was celebrating, fellow Spaniard Joseba Beloki retired before the end after failing to keep up with the pace.
I the final Category 2 climb nine kilometers from the end the Saeco riders Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca held sway but it was Russian Denis Menchov who reached the summit first with a four-second cushion.
Turning on the pressure on the way down Menchov built up a ten-second lead only to be reined in by a small group of riders with Valverde going on to claim victory.
Tuesday’s second stage takes the peloton on a 180km run between Bergara and Zalla, with a total of ten Cat. 2 and 3 climbs along the route.Stage Result
1. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Kelme, 3:25:49
2. Angel Vicioso (Sp), Liberty Seguros
3. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner
4. Danilo Di Luca (I), Saeco
5. Jorge Ferrio Luque (Sp), Costa De Almeria
6. David Etxebarria (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi
7. Aitor Osa (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, all s.t.
8. Koldo Gil Perez (Sp), Liberty Seguros
9. José Azevedo (Por), U.S. Postal
10. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Rabobank
11. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco
12. Floyd Landis (USA), U.S. Postal
13. Marco Serrano Rodriguez (Sp), Liberty Seguros
14. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi
15. Ivan Basso (I), CSC
16. Iban Mayo (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi
17. Denis Menchov (Rus), Illes Balears-Banesto
18. Jonathan Gonzalez (Sp), Costa De Almeria
19. Roberto Heras (Sp), Liberty Seguros
20. Inigo Cuesta (Sp), Cofidis, all s.t.