Sánchez wins Algarve time trial, Contador takes overall
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sánchez wins Algarve time trial, Contador takes overall

by Bjorn Haake at 10:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Volta ao Algarve

Luis León Sánchez blasted over the wet roads in southern Portugal to win the time trial in the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve. Alberto Contador kept his compatriot at check, conceding only thirteen seconds and taking the overall win. RadioShack's  Tiago Machado and Levi Leipheimer finished third and fourth overall.

 The stage victory  was no surprise to Sánchez. "I had marked this stage and I said from day one that I wanted to concentrate on it, because it really suits my characteristics," the Spaniard said after stepping down from the podium. "I really wanted to do something good on this course."

 Sánchez grew into the race. "I suffered  a lot on day one, but then I felt better every day, which gives me peace of mind. I knew it wasn't going to be easy to win today, with rivals like Contador, Leipheimer and Rosseler. I had to give it my best. Being ahead of these specialists makes this victory even more important."

Sánchez is now looking forward to defend his title in Paris-Nice. "With today's win, I am twice as motivated for the start of the first stage, which is also a time trial. At just eight kilometers, it will be a different kind of race, but I hope to do as well as today."

Today's win was the second  for Sánchez this season, after winning stage five in the Tour Down Under. "The season start couldn't have been better. I hope the whole year will be going similarly well as this first month of racing."

Triumph despite adversity

Overall winner Contador admitted he was worried before the stage.  The Spaniard had to use a last minute replacement time trial bike when the UCI banned his Specialized Shiv for not complying with regulations.  "I had my doubts, especially yesterday when I tested the bike and I had really bad feelings. This morning we made some adjustments and it went a little better, but I still had my doubts. Especially when I stand up on pedals, the bike was very different, but I felt very good and the end result was good and I could keep the jersey.”

Not expected to have a team capable of defending for the two-time Tour de France winner, Astana gained valuable experience this week in Portugal.

“This has been a very important victory for team morale,” Contador said after the race. “This race has a very great importance, especially for my team because they have done excellent work throughout the Tour. We had to take responsibility knowing that other riders needed to be covered because they could win the race, but every one [on Astana] road beyond expectations. They finished very tired but we are very happy.”

Bad weather factors in

The time trial was made extremely difficult through heavy rainfall. Some of the riders who were in breaks the last couple of days set good times early on, apparently well warmed up from the previous efforts.

Iljo Keisse (Quick Step) set a best time with 23'01, while Nelson Oliveira (Xacobeo Galicia) later bested the Belgian (22'54). However, at the time a different rider was already leading: Mário Costa (Barbot-Siper) with a 22'29.

Sébastien Rosseler was not only in the break yesterday, but he even won the stage. Today, he smashed the lead with a 21'48.

This lead held until the favorites hit the road. Luis León Sánchez posted a 21'32 to take over. Nobody could beat him, with Contador coming closest, at 21'45.

Results stage five

1 Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) 21'32
2 Alberto Contador (Astana) 21'45
3 Sébastien Rosseler (RadioShack) 21'48
4 Frantisek Rabon (Columbnia-HTC) 21'55
5 Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) 21'56

Final general classification

1 Alberto Contador (Astana) 19h57'48
2 Luis León Sánchez (Caisse D'Epargne) at 0'30
3 Tiago Machado (RadioShack)  0'32
4 Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)  0'37
5 Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)  0'57
6 Rui Costa (Caisse D'Epargne) 1'11
7 Frantisek Rabon (Team HTC-Columbia) 1'16
8 Andreas Klöden (RadioShack)  1'25
9 Tejay van Garderen (Team HTC-Columbia) 1'33
10 Peter Velits (Team HTC-Columbia) 1'45



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