Ruta Del Sol: Saur Sojasun's Jimmy Engoulvent triumphs in Prologue
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ruta Del Sol: Saur Sojasun's Jimmy Engoulvent triumphs in Prologue

by Jered Gruber at 8:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Saur-Sojasun stacks the top six with three riders, Van Den Broeck only 1 second back

The Vuelta a Andalucia opened today with a 6.8 kilometer time trial around the sunny Spanish town of Benahavis, and it was Saur-Sojasun's Jimmy Engoulvent who triumphed over a stellar field.

The distance was the perfect prologue length, but the final two kilometers were uphill, which could allow the possibility of some bigger time gaps.

Early starter, Markel Irizar, set the early best time, and nearly took the win, losing by a fraction of a second to Engoulvent.

While Engoulvent is no slouch and Irizar put in arguably the ride of his life, this year's Grand Tour hopes showed off their early season form.

Jurgen Van Den Broeck took third, only one second back, while RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer took 4th at 2 seconds adrift of Engoulvent.

Saur-Sojasun appear hell bent to show that their Tour de France selection was not just because they were French. The team put three in the top six today at the Ruta Del Sol. French stage race hope, Jerome Coppel, was 5th at 3 seconds, while Paul Lice was 6th, a further four seconds behind Coppel.

It was a stellar performance overall for Saur-Sojasun. It will be intriguing to see what the team can manage in the coming days. Coppel is certainly a rider to watch this week. Of course, all eyes will be on how last year's 5th place overall finisher at the Tour de France, Jurgen Van Den Broeck fares in his first race of the year. 

Ahead of the race, Van Den Broeck was cautious to put too much pressure on himself. Speaking with Het Laatste Nieuws, the young Belgian said his eyes were entirely on the Tour de France, "But that doesn't mean I don't want to pursue a good result at the Ruta del Sol."

Indeed, the early season Spanish stage race could be just what Van Den Broeck needs to finally get his first ever professional victory.

Result stage 1
1. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
2. Markel Irizar (Spa) RadioShack
3. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto @ 1s
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack @ 2s
5. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun @ 3s
6. Paul Poux (Fra) Saur-Sojasun @ 7s
7. Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Movistar @ 8s
8. Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Team Sky
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky @ 9s
10. Ivan Rovny (Rus) RadioShack @ 10s

Standings after stage 1
1. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
2. Markel Irizar (Spa) RadioShack
3. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto @ 1s
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack @ 2s
5. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun @ 3s

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