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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

58th Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 6-28, 2003

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Stage 1 - Saturday, September 6: Gijon - Gijon, 28 km TTT

Complete Live Report

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Hernán Alvarez Macías

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 15:35 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

08:47 CEST    
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the 58th Vuelta a España, the last and shortest in distance of the three week grand tours on the calendar. As the Vuelta has proven in the last few years, shorter stages make for more exciting racing, and there will be no shortage of that in the coming weeks.

Despite rain falling over Gijon for much of this morning, the conditions have cleared up for the start of the first stage, a 28 km team time trial. It's still cloudy and cool (19-21 degrees), a reminder that this long hot European summer is finally on its way out.

The first team off the ranks is iBanesto.com at 15:35, followed by Colchon Relax - Fuenlabrada at 15:39, Domina Vacanze-Elitron-RDZ at 15:43, and the rest of the teams at four minute intervals. The last three teams are ONCE (16:51), US Postal (16:55) and Fassa Bortolo (16:59).

15:36 CEST    
And they're off! iBanesto's nine men take off from the start ramp and immediately get into formation. There are big crowds at the start to watch this stage, and they shouldn't be disappointed.

iBanesto.com are on the climb now, maintaining their full complement of riders. They've opted for a single paceline, which is considered to be faster in most conditions.

Colchon-Relax Fuenlabrada are now on their way, the second team to leave.

15:44 CEST    
Colchon-Relax are on the climb now, also keeping it together. Meanwhile, the zebra stripes of Domina Vacanze-Elitron are on the start ramp, and the team leaves en masse. The big question is how long Mario Cipollini will stay in the race. He's last wheel at the moment.

iBanesto.com has passed the 3.6 km mark (the top of the climb) in 4'53, an average of just over 44 km/h.

15:46 CEST    
Cipollini remains in last wheel on the climb, getting out of the saddle to hold the wheels of his teammates. He's in a fairly big gear, but looks comfortable.

15:49 CEST    
The fourth team, Paternina-Costa del Almeria, has begun its ride. Their best rider is Jose Antonio Pecharroman, whose form is somewhat uncertain for the Vuelta. Cyclingnews interviewed Pecharroman recently here.

15:53 CEST    
Team CSC has started now, with Carlos Sastre as their main GC man, and Julian Dean for the sprints. They reach the foot of the climb and look to be travelling well.

15:57 CEST    
The Milaneza-MSS team is next to start, the only team from Portugal. They have riders like Claus Moller, Fabian Jeker and Angel Edo. The team has been under a bit of a cloud of late with several positive drug tests to its riders.

15:59 CEST    
Team CSC has reached the top of the climb in fourth place, 26 seconds slower than iBanesto.

Colchon-Relax looks to have lost four men already - they have to finish with five so they'd better keep it together.

Labarca-2 Cafe Baque is now on the start ramp, minus Aitor Kintana, who tested positive earlier this year and was not allowed to start. Look for Colombian climber Felix Cardenas to do well in this team.

16:04 CEST    
Team Bianchi lines up, with Angel Casero the main man for the team. They set off, and will look to do a good time.

Paternina flies through the second check at 15 km in 16'25, the fastest time so far.

16:08 CEST    
Kelme-Costa Blanca are next to leave. They have no Aitor Gonzalez this year, but will put all their efforts behind Oscar Sevilla, who is certainly not overtrained.

iBanesto finish their ride in 32'25, a respectable time.

16:15 CEST    
CSC has come through time check 2 (15 km) in 16'28, just 3 seconds slower than Paternina, who have the quickest time so far.

Relax Fuenlabrada finish in 34'31, 2'06 slower than iBanesto. They lost four men early on, and really struggled.

Phonak is on its way now, and has hit the climb. Alex Zulle is looking for a good result in the Vuelta to secure his future in cycling.

16:16 CEST    
Euskaltel-Euskadi is now under way, setting off in an orange line. Although Mayo and Zubeldia are not here, the team should still perform well with riders like Gorka Gonzalez.

16:18 CEST    
Domina Vacanze finishes, with Cipollini in front, in a time of 34'02, 1'37 slower than iBanesto.

Saeco sets off, with Igor Astarloa as top man. Meanwhile, Team Bianchi has beaten Paternina's time at the second check with 16'21. Paternina finish with eight riders, in 33'21, second best so far.

Saeco has dropped Ivan Quaranta on the climb, and he's not looking too crash hot.

16:24 CEST    
Rabobank is next off the ramp, with Levi Leipheimer their top man.

Kelme has passed through the second check in 16'04, 17 seconds faster than Team Bianchi and clearly the best of the day so far.

Team CSC is finished now, with seven men crossing in 33'28. That puts them in third place behind iBanesto, at 1'03.

16:28 CEST    
Next off is Lampre, which has riders like Wladimir Belli and Juan Manuel Garate in its ranks.

Phonak is past the second check in 16'16, 12 seconds slower than Kelme.

16:30 CEST    
Milaneza finishes its ride in 33'31, which will put them in fourth place behind iBanesto.

The Lampre team is suffering on the climb, but staying together.

16:32 CEST    
Next off is Alessio, which has a team built for stage wins rather than the GC.

Euskaltel is riding well, passing time check 2 in 16'09, five seconds slower than Kelme.

16:35 CEST    
A time correction: iBanesto passed the second check in 15'57, not 16'57. The times now make a little more sense.

Labarca finishes its ride in 35'07, the slowest team so far.

Telekom is setting off, with riders like Erik Zabel, Cadel Evans, Bobby Julich, Mario Aerts and Steffen Wesemann.

16:36 CEST    
Bianchi is next home in a good time of 33'02, but it's not enough to beat iBanesto.

16:40 CEST    
The Cofidis team, led by the lanky form of David Millar, is next off the start ramp in this 28 km team time trial.

Millar leads them to the foot of the climb, then drops to the back and lets the others take over.

Kelme is not quite quick enough to beat iBanesto, crossing in 32'46, 21 seconds slower. That will put them in second place, ahead of Bianchi.

16:44 CEST    
Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola is now on its way, as Phonak finishes in 33'05, 40 seconds slower than iBanesto.

Quick.Step, with Frank Vandenbroucke, Richard Virenque and Tom Boonen, is next off behind Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola.

All the while, iBanesto.com holds the best time with 32'25. They were also the first team to start.

Euskaltel finishes in 32'51, the third best time.

16:52 CEST    
Next team off is ONCE-Eroski, the third last squad to start. They have a very strong lineup, with Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Jan Hruska, Jorg Jaksche and José Azevedo. They won the TTT last year.

Saeco is down to 6 men at the finish, and lose 1'15 to iBanesto to finish 9th provisionally.

16:56 CEST    
US Postal-Berry Floor is next: Heras, Van Heeswijk, Hincapie, Landis, Rubiera, White, Joachim, Barry, Beltran and Peña. What can they do for Heras?

Quick.Step has the third fastest time on the climb, with 5'03.

16:57 CEST    
Rabobank finishes with seven men, in a time of 33'19, 54 seconds slower than iBanesto.com for sixth place.

ONCE is flying along in one long line, crossing the top of the climb in 4'52 - 1 second quicker than iBanesto. What can they do over the rest of the course?

16:59 CEST    
Fassa Bortolo, the last team, is ready to go. Aitor Gonzalez, Dario Frigo, Sergei Ivanov and Alessandro Petacchi are all part of this top Italian squad.

17:02 CEST    
US Postal has not ridden brilliantly on the climb, losing 16 seconds to ONCE in 3.6 km. That puts them in 7th place so far. They still have nine riders, and are also in one long line.

17:05 CEST    
ONCE is travelling well, and is on target to challenge iBanesto.com all the way for this stage. They are masters at this race, and rarely lose a team time trial.

17:07 CEST    
Fassa Bortolo hasn't done too well either on the climb, crossing 23 seconds slower than ONCE. That will put them in 16th place, and will not help Gonzalez's chances on GC.

ONCE is through the 15 km check in a very good time of 15'40, knocking 17 seconds off iBanesto's best time. ONCE look to have this stage in the bag.

17:09 CEST    
Erik Zabel leads the Telekom train home in 33'27, 1'02 slower than iBanesto, which still has the top spot on the leader board.

17:12 CEST    
US Postal makes its way past the second time check in a time of 15'56, the second best time. That puts them 16 seconds behind ONCE, having lost another 9 seconds since the top of the climb.

Cofidis comes home in a good time of 32'57, the fourth best time.

17:14 CEST    
ONCE is down to seven men, and this could be telling in the final kilometres. US Postal still have nine, with Heras doing his turn at the front now.

17:16 CEST    
The last team, Fassa Bortolo, is through time check 2 in 16'20, losing 40 seconds to ONCE, but now in the top 10 teams at least.

17:18 CEST    
Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola are home in 34'05, 1'40 slower than iBanesto and a long way down.

ONCE has 5 km to go.

17:20 CEST    
Tom Boonen leads the Quick.Step team, with nine men intact, in a time of 32'49, the third best time at the moment.

17:23 CEST    
The ONCE team drives it home with seven men through the narrow Gijon streets, with thousands of fans cheering them on. Their finish time: 32'01, with Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano the first over. That was a very fast final kilometre (> 60 km/h).

Gonzalez de Galdeano shakes his head as he crosses, but he could well be in the leader's jersey tonight.

17:28 CEST    
US Postal is next home, and they have kept nine men almost all the way to the finish. They can't beat the time of ONCE though, and finish in 32'11, 10 seconds slower than ONCE.

Just as they did last year, ONCE wins the first stage, and Igor is in the golden jersey this time.

17:33 CEST    
Fassa Bortolo has a disaster. Aitor Gonzalez punctures and they have to wait. Well, some riders wait...

Gonzalez gets a bike change and is on his way back, but the rest of the team is up the road. Pointless, as there are only four riders. They need Aitor to record a time. He joins them just before the finish, and they end in 33'26, a time loss of 1'25.

All the teams are now home, and ONCE remains at the top of the table, with US Postal in second place at 10 seconds. iBanesto did well to finish third, losing just 24 seconds to ONCE. The real battles will come in the mountains, but seconds are always important in the Vuelta.

Thanks for joining us for the first stage today. We'll be back at 14:30 CEST tomorrow with stage 2, from Gijon to Cangas de Onis. Hasta mañana!


1 ONCE - Eroski                             32.01
2 US Postal-Berry Floor                      0.10
3 Ibanesto.com                               0.24
4 Kelme-Costa Blanca                         0.45
5 Quick Step.Davitamon                       0.48
6 Euskaltel-Euskadi                          0.50
7 Cofidis                                    0.56
8 Team Bianchi                               1.01
9 Lampre                                     1.03
10 Phonak Hearing Systems                    1.04

General classification after stage 1

1 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski

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