Alberto Contador takes first win of 2011 at Vuelta a Murcia
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Alberto Contador takes first win of 2011 at Vuelta a Murcia

by Jered Gruber at 12:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Saxo Bank leader takes a slim lead into Sunday's final stage time trial

Alberto Contador first soared, then plummeted to take the first win of his and his Saxo Bank team's season. The five-time Grand Tour winner, whose fate still remains in the balance as he waits to see if the UCI will appeal his recent ruling handed down by Contador's Spanish federation, used the day's final climb of the Alto del Collado Bermejo to establish a solid gap, then held on for the eight kilometer descent to the stage finish.

Originally, the second stage of the now three-day Vuelta a Murcia was supposed to be 183 kilometers, but for an unknown reason, it was shortened by 20 kilometers. Fortunately, the shortening did not affect the race's finale, which included the 11 kilometer ascent (3.3% average) of the Alto de la Zarzadilla, followed by the Alto del Collado and its much more difficult 7 kilometers at 7.5%.

A rapid start opened the day with the duo of Jose Luis Roldan (Andalucia-Caja Granada) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Skil-Shimano) finally able to snap the elastic after forty kilometers and many attempts to wrest free.

The two riders didn't have a prayer on Saturday and never got more than three minutes and fifteen seconds ahead of the focused field. Euskaltel was firm on the front of the race and ensured that the duo were back in the fold before beginning the difficult finale to the day, but not before Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) and Van Windem (Rabobank) bridged across to the two riders. Even with four riders at the front, the chances were nil, and everything was back together as the race headed into its first climb of the day, the category two, Alto de la Zarzadilla.

Euskaltel's early work was replaced by a concerted effort by Geox-TMC. Two more riders, Lauren Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) and Ion Izagirre (Euskaltel) attempted to get away on the relatively easy ascent. Their efforts were also for naught, and everything was together as the race hit the final seven kilometer ascent of the Alto Collado Bermego.

Alberto Contador, arguably the world's best climber (along with Andy Schleck), proved once again that when he's on - there's no stopping him uphill.

Unfortunately for Contador, he couldn't pull out too large of a gap over his two closest pursuers - Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) and young French hope, Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun).

At the finish, Contador had more than enough to enjoy his win, but the five seconds he gained today won't be much room to work with in tomorrow's race ending 12 kilometer time trial.

If Contador puts together a time trial like he did in Algarve, he hasn't a prayer, but if he can ride to his typical standards, it should be quite close between he and last year's 3rd place finisher at the Tour de France, Denis Menchov.

Coppel, a former U23 World Championship time trial bronze medalist, could also give Contador a run for his money.

Menchov versus Contador - it should be a thrilling duel, and one we'll hopefully see repeated in May at the Giro. It will, unfortunately, not be a duel we'll see in July.

General Classification after stage 2:
1. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank)
2. Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) +3
3. Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) +5


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2011 Vuelta a la Region de Murcia, Stage 2 Results: Murcia to Alhama de Murcia (183.2 km)

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
esp ESP 1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Saxo Bank-Sungard) 04:46:57
rus RUS 2 Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) 00:00:05
fra FRA 3 Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
col COL 4 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Geox-TMC) 00:00:25
ned NED 5 Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) 00:00:27
fra FRA 6 Alexandre Geniez (Skil-Shimano) 00:00:57
gbr GBR 7 Chris Froome (Team Sky) 00:01:17
fra FRA 8 Guillaume Levarlet (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
fra FRA 9 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
esp ESP 10 David Blanco Rodriguez (Geox-TMC) s.t.
esp ESP 11 Francisco Perez Sanchez (Movistar Team) s.t.
esp ESP 12 Rafael Valls Ferri (Geox-TMC) s.t.
blr BLR 13 Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar Team) s.t.
esp ESP 14 Jose Herrada Lopez (Caja Rural) s.t.
esp ESP 15 Javier Moreno Bazan (Caja Rural) s.t.
esp ESP 16 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s.t.
ita ITA 17 Santo Anza (Vacansoleil-DCM) 00:02:00.
fra FRA 18 Yannick Talabardon (Saur-Sojasun) 00:02:24
esp ESP 19 Jordi Simon (Spain) s.t.
ned NED 20 Maarten De Jonge (Endura Racing) s.t.

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