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43rd Vuelta al Pais Vasco - 2.HC

Spain, April 7-11, 2003

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Stage 1 - April 7: Legazpia - Legazpia, 129 km

Iban Mayo flies the orange flag

By Chris Henry

Iban Mayo and friends
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

The Vuelta al Pais Vasco, one of the more demanding one week stage races, began today with an opening stage of 129 kilometres starting and ending in Legazpia. The race tackled five category two and three climbs, and at the finish it was Iban Mayo who gave Euskaltel-Euskadi its first victory of the season, vitally important on the team's home roads of the Basque region, and also in light of pending selections for the Tour de France.

In a race that serves as a higher-stakes tune up to the Ardennes classics, the assembled peloton featured a number of heavy hitters, even including Rabobank's Michael Boogerd, who traveled to Spain from Belgium after his first appearance in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. An in-form Marco Pantani, hot on the comeback trail, spent much of the day at the front of the field.

Francisco Cabello (Kelme), Spain's answer to Jacky Durand, went on the attack early, moving clear on the first climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Deskarga. Cabello built an advantage without much opposition from the peloton, extending his lead to four and a half minutes with 55km to go. Over the next two climbs, Cabello stayed away, though his lead began to gradually dwindle as the Euskaltel and Fassa Bortolo teams decided to up the tempo. It was the Fassa Bortolo squad, working largely for its leader Dario Frigo, winner of the recent Setmana Catalana, that put the most men at the front of the race.

With his lead under two minutes inside the final 30km, Cabello's capture was more and more imminent. As Fassa Bortolo continued the pursuit, the peloton crested the final climb of the day. Having passed through Legazpia once already, the parcours featured a final circuit which brought the riders back up the Deskarga, but in the reverse direction. A mostly downhill finish was unlikely to let any escapees stay away, but that didn't stop iBanesto's Leonardo Piepoli from trying his hand.

Piepoli leapt from the field, prompting a reaction from Ivan Basso, but the pair were pulled back quickly. As they were, Euskaltel's man of the moment, Samuel Sanchez, tried a timely counter, this time gaining a gap on the field. Sanchez was joined by Piepoli, and the two plunged down the descent of the Deskarga with only 4km to race. Piepoli was unwilling to persist with the attack, leaving the work to Sanchez, who himself was fully committed and rode flat out to maintain the slender advantage.

While the attacks went up front, several splits broke the peloton, and a number of riders, including Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski), Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), and Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) were caught behind. In the closing 2km, Beloki managed to bridge alone to the leading group. Up front, just after the duo of Piepoli and Sanchez were caught, Sanchez's team leader Iban Mayo made a daring attack, catching the field by surprise. Mayo timed his move to perfection, holding off the charging group and winning by a bike length ahead of Angel Vicioso (Kelme) and CSC's Tyler Hamilton, heading a 35 rider group.

Tomorrow's stage 2 takes the riders from Legazpi to Plentzia over 158kms, including four categorised climbs. The difficulties are stacked in the first half of the stage, providing another chance for a large group to finish together. However a number of smaller climbs could provide a springboard for a strong break. Today's weather was also favourable, with temperatures around 15 degrees and sunny skies. The Vuelta al Pais Vasco has been known to produce some abysmal conditions in recent years, so the peloton will surely hope for continued blue skies on Tuesday.


1 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      3.20.06 (38.68 km/h)
2 Angel Vicioso (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
3 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC
4 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
5 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Team Saeco
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
7 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
9 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre
10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom
11 Alberto Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
12 Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) Team Saeco
13 Patxi Vila (Spa) Lampre
14 Denis Menchov (Rus)
15 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
16 Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphon
17 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Lampre
18 Antonio Colom (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
19 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC
20 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
21 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
22 Marcos Serrano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
23 Benjamín Noval (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
24 Aitor Osa (Spa)
25 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
26 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
27 Aitor Kintana (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
28 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Team Saeco
29 Joseba Beloki (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
30 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
31 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
32 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita)
33 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
34 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
35 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo
36 Santiago Blanco (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
37 Cadel Evans (Aus) Team Telekom                            0.15
38 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank
39 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Fassa Bortolo
40 Dario Gadeo (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
41 José Azevedo (Por) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
42 Daniel Atienza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone     0.18
43 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                         0.41
44 Jordi Riera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
45 Francisco Gutierrez (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
46 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
47 Ricardo Serrano (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
48 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
49 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank
50 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Domo
51 Bobby Julich (USA) Team Telekom
52 Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphon
53 Marco Pantani (Ita) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
54 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner
55 Eladio Jimenez (Spa)
56 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre
57 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco
58 Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléph
59 J.Manuel Vazquez (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
60 David Navas (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
61 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
62 Joaquin Lopez (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
63 Massimo Codol (Ita) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
64 David Lopez (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
65 Hector Guerra (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
66 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo
67 Angelo Lopeboselli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléph
68 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
69 Manuel Calvente (Spa) Team CSC
70 Gustavo Otero (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
71 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC
72 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC
73 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
74 Evgeni Petrov (Rus)
75 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
76 Udo Bölts (Ger) Gerolsteiner
77 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Team Telekom
78 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Telekom
79 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
80 Carlos Golbano (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
81 Alexander Shefer (Kaz) Team Saeco
82 Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada           1.20
83 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
84 Juan Fuentes (Spa) Team Saeco
85 Roberto Laiseka (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
86 Iker Camaño (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
87 Carlos Torrent (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria           1.36
88 Francisco Palacios (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
89 Marcelino Garcia (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
90 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre
91 Adolfo Garcia Quesada (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
92 Gustavo Toledo (Arg) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
93 Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Team Telekom
94 Mario Aerts (Bel) Team Telekom
95 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank
96 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
97 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Gerolsteiner
98 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo
99 Andrea Tonti (Ita) Team Saeco
100 Jon Odriozola (Spa)
101 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                       1.39
102 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
103 José Garrido (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
104 Dermot Nally (Irl) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
105 Gonzalo Bayarri (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
106 Xabier Zandio (Spa)
107 Frederic Bessy (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
108 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank                          1.46
109 José Javier Gomez Gozalo (Spa) Labarca-2-Café Baqué      1.57
110 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino       2.30
111 Benoit Salmon (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems               2.53
112 Ignacio Gutierrez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
113 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo                        3.26
114 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                    3.43
115 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Lampre                               3.48
116 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Fassa Bortolo                      4.22
117 Sylvester Szymyd (Pol) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
118 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner
119 José Luis Arrieta (Spa)
120 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
121 Julian Usano (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
122 Ruggero Borghi (Ita) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
123 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Gerolsteiner                        4.55
124 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Team Saeco
125 Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz) Team Telekom
126 Roberto Conti (Ita) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
127 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
128 Daniel Clavero (Spa) Mercatone Uno - Scanavino
129 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Lotto-Domo                         6.14
130 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo
131 Iker Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      6.36
132 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre
133 Ief Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo
134 Alexis Rodriguez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
135 Francisco Cabello (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
136 Germán Nieto (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada             8.09
137 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                               9.26


1 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                            25 pts
2 Angel Vicioso (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                          20
3 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                                16
4 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                              14
5 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Team Saeco                               12
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                  10
7 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      9
8 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                            8
9 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre                             7
10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                      6


1 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                      10.00.18
2 Lampre
3 Team CSC
4 Saeco
5 ONCE-Eroski
6 Fassa Bortolo
8 Phonak Heraing Systems
9 Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
10 Team Telekom                                              0.56
11 Rabobank
12 Cofidis,Le Credit Par Telephone                           0.59
13 Kelme-Costa Blanca                                        1.22
14 Gerolsteiner
15 Labarca-2 Cafe Baque
16 Paternina-Costa De Almeria                                1.37
17 Mercatone Uno - Scanavino                                 2.03
18 Lotto-Domo                                                2.58