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61st Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006

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Stage 1 - August 26: Málaga - Málaga TTT, 7.2 km

Complete live report

21:08 CEST   
The capital of the Costa del Sol welcomes the riders for the Vuelta team time trial start. The street circuit is completely flat and should provide super-fast average speeds. There's a right angle turn 400 metres before the finish that will test the team's skill. Favourites for the stage include Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears, T-Mobile and Astana.

19:12 CEST   
Welcome to Malaga, South Europe, for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the opening stage of the 61st Vuelta a España. Today we're kicking off with a fast, flat 7.3 km team time trial running from the Estadio de Atletismo Cuidad de Málaga [City of Málaga Athletics Stadium] to the finish at the Paseo de los Curas/Paseo la Farola.

Relax-Gam will lead things off at 19.12 CEST, and will be followed at four minute intervals by each of the remaining 20 teams in the race. The start order is Relax-Gam, Lampre-Fondital, Davitamon-Lotto, Phonak Hearing Systems, Francaise des Jeux, Credit Agricole, T-Mobile, Bouygues Telecom, Liquigas, AG2R Prévoyance, Cofidis, Milram, Quick Step - Innergetic, Gerolsteiner, Saunier Duval - Prodir, Euskaltel - Euskadi, Discovery Channel, Astana, Illes Balears - Caisse d'Epargne, Team CSC and, finally, the Rabobank squad of defending champion Denis Menchov.

19:17 CEST   
Relax - GAM is well under way now, getting into its rhythm as the first team out of the starting blocks. It's the only non-ProTour team in the race. Lampre - Fondital follows it at four minutes.

There is one intermediate time check today at km 2.3.

19:20 CEST   
The weather today is superb for the opening stage. It's 25 degrees and there's not much wind. It's really a pleasant evening in downtown Malaga.

19:23 CEST   
Belgian squad Davitamon - Lotto launches next, with sprinter Robbie McEwen aiming for a solid start. Team time trialling is not really his thing, but you can bet he'll be up there in tomorrow's second stage (which starts at 10am and finishes at 2pm, by the way).

19:25 CEST   
McEwen is accompanied by Olivier Kaisen, Mario Aerts, Christophe Brandt, Wim De Vocht, Bart Dockx, Chris Horner, Josep Jufre Pou and Bjorn Leukemans.

19:28 CEST   
And now Phonak Hearing Systems is off. The Swiss team is in its last ever Grand Tour, as it will stop at the end of the year. Floyd Landis was just one doping case too many. In the Vuelta, Phonak will start with fairly modest ambitions.

19:29 CEST   
Phonak's best rider is probably Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero, who is always a threat of a stage win. The experienced Nicolas Jalabert is also on board.

19:32 CEST   
Française des Jeux starts off next, four minutes behind Phonak. One of five French ProTour teams, FDJ has a relatively young squad in the Vuelta, built around Austrian sprinter Bernhard Eisel.

19:36 CEST   
Credit Agricole has just left, while Quick.Step is still warming up, with Paolo Bettini putting his tongue out.

At the first time check (km 2.3), Lampre leads with 3'42.

19:41 CEST   
The T-Mobile team is coming to the intermediate time check, where CA arrived at 3.37 - the team led by Bernhard Kohl scores exactly the same time there. Meanwhile, Bouygues Telecom have started.

19:43 CEST   
Other teams are still warming up: Saunier Duval with David Millar, and Quickstep with Paolo Bettini, listening to music.

Liquigas is lining up to start in the stadium, where the Vuelta is seen off this year.

19:45 CEST   
T-Mobile has just set a new best time with 7.47 minutes - this prologue is rather spectacular being a team time trial, but the time differences between riders will certainly be minimal.

19:48 CEST   
Alexandre Vinokourov is also warming up, sweating a lot already. He wears one of those sunglasses with integrated earphones.

News has just arrived that Andreas Klöden will be his new teammate next year, together with Matze Kessler and Gregory Rast. Gerolsteiner's Rene Haselbacher is also said to be joining Astana next year. More on those changes in the next edition of News.

19:50 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes is in the car behind Liquigas - they're doing 64-67 km/h reportedly.

19:52 CEST   
Liquigas raced through the time check after 3.35 minutes - two seconds faster than T-Mobile. They're coming to the finish now: 7.49... they lost those two seconds again on the second half of the course.

19:55 CEST   
Milram is on the start ramp, with Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel. The riders are held upright on their bikes by rather good-looking blond-haired girls...

20:02 CEST   
The start of today's course is in a southwest suburb of Malaga, with the finish in the city harbour. The roads are very flat and straight, through industrial areas but there are also some beautiful palm-tree boulevards.

20:04 CEST   
Milram is coming into the finish - the sprinter's team should do very well here. And it does: new best time with 7.44!

20:06 CEST   
German team Gerolsteiner comes out of the stadium's oval now. Ouch! Davide Rebellin crashed in a roundabout! That didn't look good... he slid away.

20:08 CEST   
Gerolsteiner continues of course, leaving Rebellin behind. Meanwhile, Saunier Duval has started.

20:10 CEST   
Gerolsteiner passed the time check after 3.36 minutes - that's only 2 secs slower than Milram.

20:12 CEST   
Saunier Duval is doing 56 km/h on a long, straight, boulevard.

Gerolsteiner gets into the finish: 7.55.

20:15 CEST   
Euskaltel-Euskadi is also out on the road now, coming through the roundabout where Rebellin crashed. They don't look like they've found a rhythm yet - sort of disorganised.

20:18 CEST   
Saunier Duval is three seconds slower than Milram in the finish, as Discovery takes off.

20:22 CEST   
Discovery passes the time check with the same time as Milram... Astana has started, too, but there was a gap in the group straight away. Vinokourov was leading, and Kashechkin tried to bridge the gap. They're all together again now.

20:26 CEST   
Ah - Discovery missed Milram's best by not even one second. That's close.

ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde has started with his Caisse d'Epargne teammates. He's dressed all in white.

20:28 CEST   
There aren't a lot of spectators except towards the finish line, where Astana is now: 7.48.

CSC takes off.

20:30 CEST   
The Danish team are specialists collectively against the clock, and look like they've got it together here. Sörensen is leading them now, while Cancellara is still sitting on somebody's wheel.

20:33 CEST   
And Caisse d'Epargne, led out by Garcia Acosta, take the best time off Milram by one second! So it might be the Spaniard in Gold later on, not Erik Zabel, who crossed the line first with Milram.

20:34 CEST   
Rabobank, the last team with last year's winner Menchov, is off.

20:35 CEST   
CSC is still driving hard. Will they be able to beat Caisse d'Epargne?

20:36 CEST   
Yes! They're seven seconds faster! Didn't see who was first on the line, though. It wasn't Cancellara.

20:40 CEST   
We're told that it was Carlos Sastre who crossed the finish line in first position at CSC, so he would be the one to get the leader's jersey. Awaiting confirmation though.

Rabobank gets into the finish now, but they will not pass CSC...

20:41 CEST   
Rabobank finished 18 seconds off CSC - they're out of Top 10.

20:42 CEST   
It's confirmed - Sastre is the first leader of this year's Vuelta.

20:48 CEST   
So CSC smashes their rivals in this first, fast TTT through Malaga. We're impressed! But Alessandro Petacchi is also in a good position to take the lead tomorrow when the race moves to Cordoba for a possible bunch sprint finish. Stay tuned!

Intermediate standings

km 3.3
1 Caisse-D'Epargne-Illes Balears    3.33
2 Team-Milram                       0.01
3 Discovery                             
4 Astana                            0.02
5 Liquigas                              
6 Saunier-Duval-Prodir              0.03
7 Gerolsteiner                          
8 Team-CSC                              
9 Quick-Step-Innergetic             0.04
10 Euskaltel-Euskadi                    
Finish - km 7.3
1 Team-CSC                          7.36
2 Caisse-D'Epargne-Illes Balears    0.07
3 Team-Milram                       0.08
4 Discovery                         0.09
5 T-Mobile-Team                     0.11
6 Astana                            0.12
7 Saunier-Duval-Prodir              0.13
8 Credit-Agricole                       
9 Liquigas                              
10 Quick-Step-Innergetic            0.15

General classification after stage 1

1 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC      7.36


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