Klöden loses possibility of defending Vuelta al Pais Vasco title
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Klöden loses possibility of defending Vuelta al Pais Vasco title

by Shane Stokes at 2:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury, Vuelta al Pais Vasco
German rider drops five minutes on day one

Andreas KlodenDefending champion Andreas Klöden has lost out on the chance of defending his Vuelta al Pais Vasco title, with the German cracking on today’s opening stage of the race.

The RadioShack Nissan rider trailed in five minutes and seven seconds behind the winner Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), who won a big bunch sprint to the line.

Klöden finished 141st, one place behind his team-mate Jens Voigt. The latter slipped back after chasing back on twice during the stage, once after helping Frank Schleck return after a puncture and again when he was involved in a small crash.

Last year, Klöden beat team-mate and then-defending champion Chris Horner by 47 seconds. This time round, his ambitions will have to be more modest.

“I am suffering but this is logical,” he said after the stage. “I was sick after Paris-Nice. I had a fever and then later stomach problems. I had to miss Critérium International because of that. So I miss racing in my legs. País Vasco will be hard for me but very useful too.”

The team does however have other options for the overall, with riders such as 2010 winner Horner, Frank Schleck and Maxime Monfort also part of the lineup. They have all been classified in the same time as Rojas, although the latter was one of many who lost time at the end.

He finished in a group one minute 28 seconds behind the leading group as a result of a crash which split the bunch inside the final three kilometres.

Also delayed were Milan Sanremo victor Simon Gerrans and recent Volta a Catalunya winner Michael Albasini (both GreenEdge), Garmin Barracuda’s Dan Martin and Tom Danielson plus Astana’s Janez Brajkovic.

However as per UCI rules, they were all given the same time in the general classification, and so remain in contention.

The race ends with a time trial, giving Klöden something to aim for if his legs come round.


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