|Tech Features Road MTB Cyclocross Track News Photos Feedback|
Spain, June 17-23, 2002
Stage 1 - June 17: Sant Jaume d'Enveja-Deltebre TTT, 30.9 km
Round one to the blue corner
Boonen in leader's jersey
By Martin Hardie, Cyclingnews correspondent
Belgium's new shining light, Tom Boonen took the white and green striped leader's jersey when his team US Postal won the opening stage team trial today in the Volta Catalunya. The Tour of Switzerland and the Volta constitute the final grand hit outs before the Tour de France kicks off in just over two weeks.
USPS took the stage, but only just, beating ONCE-Eroski, by a slender three seconds over a course of just over 30 kilometres. ONCE-Eroski is the team being identified by some, including el Gringo, Lance Armstrong, as USPS' main rivals for the French tour. But in TdF terms today's tussle was a battle of the domestiques. Both sets of riders did not have the company of their principal team leaders. Without Armstrong for the blues and the underdog tag-team match-up of Beloki and Gonzalez for the yellows, it was a chance for the team workers to show how they can do it without the boss. On another level, it is the last chance the competitors this week will have to show off their domestique prowess in order to sway their selection for France.
Today's route was flat and for the most part open. There were strong cross winds during the whole ride as it followed the course of the mighty Ebro River and crossed the flood plains that dominate this part of southern Catalonia. At half time check the score stood with ONCE at 17 min. 50 sec., USPS 18 min. 39 sec., Coast 18 min.43 sec., ITERA 18min. 48 sec. and Banesto at 18 min. 52 sec. It appeared that the ONCE boys had the match squarely in the bag with a big lead after 15.7km of 49 seconds. But by the finish the perfect harmony evidenced by the remaining five riders of the USPS machine turned things right around - Matt White and David Clinger had dropped off the pace two kilometers from the line, to finish over a minute down. But by crossing the line first of the five riders necessary to record a winning time, it was the brand new face of Tom Boonen, the man of the mammoth ride to Roubaix in April, that took the race lead.
As you'd expect the US Postal camp was delighted with the result. "It was a dead flat course with strong crosswinds the whole time," said assistant directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "The team was good today, this was clear. George (Hincapie) was our leader today and perhaps our strongest rider but it was great to see that almost everyone was as strong."
"It's great to see a young rider such as Tom leading a prestigious event like the Tour of Catalunya," added Demol. "For the overall, Roberto is very motivated and wants to have a top finish in the classification. It's good for him to already have gained some time on his rivals on a day in which it didn't seem possible to make big gaps because the course was so flat."
One rider who must be looking down the barrel of three weeks in France is ONCE's Mikel Zarrabietia. Today after pulling his team to what seemed like victory and crossing the line second, behind the other Basque Mikel, Padera, Zarrabietia said that following his victory of last week in the Euskal Bizikleta he is experiencing a "second youth". The "layout for the Catalan tour isn't bad for me, but I believe that participation here is very good and that there are many riders that utilize the Catalan race to get ready for the Tour. The objective of the team is nothing other than to try and regain the title obtained last year by Joseba Beloki."
In his interview the Bizkaian touched on another issue of relevance to this weeks Volta, the general strike called to protest the policies of the governing Popular Party. The strike, which has been planned for some time, is set for Thursday June 20, the day of the major outing to the Ski Station at Pal in Andorra. Zarrabietia said that he respected the collective decision of the Spanish riders, announced today, to stop work this coming Thursday. Organisers are quickly running out of solutions but one touted is to run the stage totally within Andorra so that the riders don't need to go to work in Spain on the day of the strike.
The lack of a solution to the strike may be the thing that upsets the plans of USPS for the week. Their start today has lined things up nicely for a Heras victory in the overall. But between now and Sunday maybe one thing really stands in the way of their plans, and that's the Spanish constitutional right to strike and the decision of the Spanish riders announced today.
Another potential threat of industrial action may arise if members of the USPS team find their way back to the podium. After today's effort it is always possible that we might encounter a strike by the podium girls if the team's effervescent mood continues to cause champagne to be aimed at their blonde hair as it was today.
He, who shall remain nameless to protect his US constitutional Fifth Amendment rights, got just a little carried away causing champagne not only to be aimed towards the traditional target in front of the podium, but also at the blonde haired, red dressed, podium girls. Not a done thing. The blonde hair was a little champagne sticky for the remainder of the proceedings and Matt White had to take complete control with a couple of long swigs of champers that seemed to flow down the throat with more than a bit of ease. Please take it easy boys and remember podium etiquette, Spain could only survive one strike this week and where would we be without the podium girls?
1 US Postal Service 34.36 (53.58 km/h) 2 ONCE-Eroski 0.03 3 Mapei-Quick Step 0.10 4 Team Coast 0.21 5 Lampre-Daikin 0.25 6 iBanesto.com 0.34 7 Lotto-Adecco 0.36 8 Itera 0.42 9 Fassa Bortolo 0.57 10 Relax-Fuenlabrada 1.09 11 Cofidis 1.21 12 Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 1.22 13 Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.24 14 Team Telekom 1.38 15 Kelme-Costa Blanca 1.45 16 Alessio 1.57 General classification after stage 1 1 Tom Boonen (Bel) U.S. Postal Service 34.36 2 George Hincapie (USA) U.S. Postal Service 3 Michael Barry (Can) U.S. Postal Service 4 Roberto Heras (Spa) U.S. Postal Service 5 Chann McRae (USA) U.S. Postal Service 6 Christian Vandevelde (USA) U.S. Postal Service 7 Mikel Pradera (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 0.03 8 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 9 Jan Hruska (Cze) ONCE-Eroski 10 Alvaro Gonzalez (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 11 Ivan Ramiro Parra (Col) ONCE-Eroski 12 Rafael Diaz (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 13 Xavier Florencio (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 14 René Andrle (Cze) ONCE-Eroski 0.08 15 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 0.10 16 David Cañada (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 17 Eddy Ratti (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 18 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 19 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Mapei-Quick Step 20 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 0.19 21 Luis Perez (Spa) Team Coast 0.21 22 Jaime Hernandez (Spa) Team Coast 23 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast 24 Aitor Garmendia (Spa) Team Coast 25 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Team Coast 26 David Plaza (Spa) Team Coast 27 Francisco Jose Lara (Spa) Team Coast 28 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Lampre-Daikin 0.25 29 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 30 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre-Daikin 31 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre-Daikin 32 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 33 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 34 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) iBanesto.com 0.34 35 Jav Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) iBanesto.com 36 Jose Vicente Garcia (Spa) iBanesto.com 37 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com 38 Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) iBanesto.com 39 Jon Odriozola (Spa) iBanesto.com 40 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) iBanesto.com 41 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 0.36 42 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 43 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 44 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 45 Mario Aerts (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 46 Glenn D'hollander (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 47 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco 48 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Itera 0.42 49 Alexei Markov (Rus) Itera 50 Serguei Klimov (Rus) Itera 51 Edouard Gritsoun (Rus) Itera 52 Alexander Serov (Rus) Itera 53 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 0.51 54 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 0.54 55 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Fassa Bartolo 0.57 56 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bartolo 57 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Fassa Bartolo 58 Nicola Loda (Ita) Fassa Bartolo 59 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bartolo 60 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bartolo 61 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bartolo 62 Gustavo M. Toledo (Arg) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 1.02 63 Rafael Casero (Spa) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 64 Carlos Torrent (Spa) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 65 Jose A. Pecharroman (Spa) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 66 Gonzalo Bayarri (Spa) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 67 Jose Antonio Garrido (Spa) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 68 Juan Carlos Guillamon (Spa) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 69 Serguei Smetanine (Rus) Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 70 David Clinger (USA) U.S. Postal Service 1.04 71 German Nieto (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 1.09 72 Jose Luis Rebollo (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 73 Jose Manuel Maestre (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 74 Benjamin Noval (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 75 Nacor Burgos (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 76 Jose Manuel Vazquez (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 77 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 78 Antonio Colom (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 79 Luca Paolini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1.11 80 Tom Steels (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 1.13 81 Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cofidis 1.21 82 Daniel Atienza (Spa) Cofidis 83 Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis 84 Angelo Lopeboselli (Ita) Cofidis 85 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis 86 Jean-Michel Tessier (Fra) Cofidis 87 Igor Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.24 88 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 89 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 90 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 91 Lander Euba (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 92 Gorka Gerrikagoitia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 93 Roberto Laiseka (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 94 Matthew White (Aus) U.S. Postal Service 1.32 95 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis 1.37 96 Stephan Schreck (Ger) Telekom 1.38 97 Andreas Kloden (Ger) Telekom 98 Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom 99 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Telekom 100 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Telekom 101 Andreas Klier (Ger) Telekom 102 Kai Hundertmarck (Ger) Telekom 103 Jordi Riera (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 1.45 104 Jose Angel Vidal (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 105 Juan Manuel Cuenca (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 106 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 107 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 108 Julian Usano (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 109 Francisco Cabello (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 110 Roberto Lozano (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 111 Pietro Cauchioli (Ita) Alessio 1.57 112 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Alessio 113 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio 114 Alberto Vinale (Ita) Alessio 115 Davide Frattini (Ita) Alessio 116 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Telekom 2.09 117 Andrea Brognara (Ita) Alessio 2.11 118 Mauro Zanetti (Ita) Alessio 2.30 119 Mikel Artetxe (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2.44 120 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis 2.48 121 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Itera 2.59 122 Denis Smyslov (Rus) Itera 123 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Team Coast 3.48 124 Xabier Zandio (Spa) iBanesto.com 4.59 125 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 6.17 126 Maxim Smirnov (Rus) Itera 7.41 Teams classification 1 US Postal Service 1.43.48 2 ONCE-Eroski 0.09 3 Mapei-Quick Step 0.30 4 Team Coast 1.03 5 Lampre-Daikin 1.15 6 iBanesto.com 1.42 7 Lotto-Adecco 1.48 8 Itera 2.06 9 Fassa Bortolo 2.51 10 Relax-Fuenlabrada 3.27 11 Cofidis 4.03 12 Jazztel-Costa De Almeria 4.06 13 Euskaltel-Euskadi 4.12 14 Team Telekom 4.54 15 Kelme-Costa Blanca 5.15 16 Alessio 5.51