Valverde wins hilly Basque stage one as Freire disqualified
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Valverde wins hilly Basque stage one as Freire disqualified

by Ben Atkins at 11:45 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

alejandro valverdeAlejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) won the first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco at the end of a 152km hilly circuit in Zierbena. The overall race favourite was awarded the victory after three-time World champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who crossed the line first, was adjudged to have blocked him in the sprint. Valverde beat Christophe Le Mevel (Française des Jeux) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) into second and third.

The race set off under clear skies and attacks started immediately; after just 2km Sergui Klimov (Katusha), Christian Meier (Garmin-Transitions), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto) Gonzalo Rabuñal (Xacobeo-Galicia) and Sergio Carrasco (Andalucia-CajaSur) escaped and had built up a lead of 4’15” by the 15km mark. The peloton, led by the local Euskaltel-Euskadi team, allowed the quintet to stay away, with the lead hovering between four and five minutes.

On the climb to Puerto Zierbena, with 42km to go, Pedersen was dropped by his breakaway companions, and the lead was cut by Euskaltel-Euskadi to less than 2 minutes; as the peloton got closer Klimov decided to go it alone. Attacks began behind him from the Saxo Bank team, countered by Quick Step and Euskaltel-Euskadi.

As the peloton climbed the second category Alto de las Calizas with less than 20km to go, the Rabobank team moved forward to take up the pace and Klimov was finally caught. On the steepest section Beñat Intxausti, Iban Velasco (both Euskaltel-Euskadi), Chris Horner (RadioShack), Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (OmegaPharma-Lotto), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank), Le Mevel, Valverde and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) pulled away, leaving several favourites behind them.

A number of other riders caught up with the leading break, but Euskaltel-Euskadi captain Samuel Sanchez was left behind.

In the final kilometres Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) tried to escape alone, but was pulled back by the others and the group of 24 riders sprinted for the finish. Despite being the fastest finisher, Freire was adjudged to have obstructed Valverde and was relegated to 24th and last place in the front group.

Sanchez came in with the next group of 27 riders, losing 1’39” on most of his overall rivals.

Result stage 1
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
2. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions
4. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne
7. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Team RadioShack
8. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Transitions
9. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux

Standings after stage 1
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne


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