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62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 1 - September 1: Vigo - Vigo, 146.4km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer and Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:45 CEST

14:59 CEST   
Hola! Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the 62nd Vuelta a España. The three-week long race kicks off today with a road stage starting from Vigo, home of Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro. This is the third time for Vigo to host the start of the Vuelta, the last being 40 years ago.

Two category three altos will award the first points for the mountain's classification but due to their early appearance they will not likely determine the day, and the fans should see a bunch sprint when the stage arrives back in Vigo.

15:05 CEST    50km/96.4km to go
Milram has control of the bunch as they speed along. There is an escape group up the road with a 1'55" advantage. We will get the names for you in a minute.

Cordero is the race director
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:08 CEST   
Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom), Geoffroy Lequatre (Cofidis) and Serafín Martínez (Karpin-Galicia) formed an escape after an early escape of 16 was reeled in. The trio moved clear at kilometre 26.

They jammed it towards the top of the day's first climb, the Puerto de Vilarchán. Serafín Martínez (Karpin-Galicia) got the first mountain points on offer in the 62nd Vuelta.

15:13 CEST    60km/86.4km to go
We are travelling along in a Seat Ibiza 1.2 and the dash board indicator reads just over 30°C. It is a gorgeous start to the year's last Grand Tour.

Virtual mountain man, Serafín Martínez (Karpin-Galicia), just re-joined the escape suffering from a flat tire. The other two escapees seemed to be waiting for him to re-join because there are still many kilometres to cover here in Galicia.

15:17 CEST   
Shortly after the day's first climb, it was Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) who grabbed the first sprint points of the Vuelta. At kilometre 43, in Ponte Caldelas, he nabbed the first spot over the line.

The sprinters for the finale are likely to be Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) and Tom Boonen (Quick.Step - Innergetic). The stage win and overall lead is up for grabs at the end of the day.

15:22 CEST    70km
We are turning up the air conditioning in our Seat, as the sun beats down on us and the riders. The lead is staying steady around the two minute mark.

15:29 CEST    71km/75.4km to go
The leaders are approaching the feed zone, and holding on to their two minutes. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Milram is leading things. Who are they going to be riding for in the finale, Petacchi or Zabel?

15:38 CEST    82km/64.4km to go
The escape group has passed through the feed zone and unpacked what they want to eat, storing the various items in their various pockets. We are unpacking our tuna-salad sandwiches and cooled bottles of water.

15:43 CEST    78km/68.4km to go
Whoops! Several riders back in the peloton have made contact with the pavement, but apparently without any serious damage.

15:50 CEST   
No news yet on who those riders who all went down, or exactly what happened. But Milram is still leading the peloton and keeping the break right around two minutes.

15:55 CEST    85km/61.4km to go
The lead fell to 1'33", but has climbed back up to 2'0". We are now into the second hour of the race, with an average speed of 41.3 km/h.

16:00 CEST    91km/55.4km to go
Bad news for American Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel). He was one of the riders involved in the crash, and he has been force to abandon. He had been targeting this race after missing out on the Tour de France. We will bring you updates on his condition has we have them.

16:02 CEST    94km/52.4km to go
Fabio Sabatini (Milram) is holding on to the doctor's car a the feed-zone approaches. 2004 Giro d'Italia Champion Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) was also involved in that crash. His right side is roughed up. He is being paced back to the gruppo by his Lampre men.

16:14 CEST   
The three in front have built their lead up to 2.30, but it seems unlikely that they can carry it through to the end. Too many hungry sprinters are not all that far behind them.

16:18 CEST    97.4km/49km to go
Milram is still heading up the chase. There are lots of people out watching today's stage, and the big favourite is, of course, local hero Oscar Pereiro.

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre - Fondital)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

16:23 CEST   
There had been rumour circulating that Cunego's team-mate, Alessandro Ballan, has signed for Liquigas. The acid green team, home of Filippo Pozzato, already signed Daniele Bennati, and it could make sense that Ballan would switch teams to be at the side of his friend.

Cyclingnews spoke with the 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner this afternoon as he was traveling to his next race, and he confirmed nothing has been signed. "There is no new news," said the Italian. "Monday I will know more from Lampre regarding my contract [renewal]."

Presumably his asking price has gone up after winning De Ronde and the Hamburg Cyclassics this year.

16:23 CEST   
The "three musketeers" in the lead have started up the final climb of the day, the Alto de Zamans, all of 390 meters. The lead is now 2.20.

16:28 CEST    101.4km/45km to go
The riders are starting to feel the effects of the sun and heat. Lequatre, in the lead group, keeps pouring water over his head.

He had to drop out of the Tour this year after a crash in the fifth stage. A feed bag got caught in his wheel and brought him down. He made it to the end of that stage, but couldn't start the next day.

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) wants to win stages
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:29 CEST   
If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear them. Please use the e-mail at the bottom of this page to drop us a line. Our Seat 1.2 has good power to our notebooks and the data card seems to be working fine, so we can answer most of your e-mails in a timely fashion.

Who will be in the golden jersey at the end of the day? Bennati? Freire?

16:35 CEST   
Serafín Martínez (Karpin-Galicia) has jumped away here on the climb. He will be gunning for max points to lock in the lead for the mountains classification.

16:37 CEST    109km/37.4km to go
He led over Zamans and will be rewarded with the mountains jersey at the end of the stage. The chase is being led by Caisse d'Epargne.

16:39 CEST    110.4km/36km to go
Martinez will wear the mountain jersey when the race starts again tomorrow. He keeps on going and has a lead of 64 seconds on the peloton.

16:46 CEST   
Milram, Quick.Step and Credit Agricole are among those at the head of the peloton as they pass the football stadium in Vigo on their way around the city course.

16:48 CEST   
The peloton is moving right along, but hasn't yet stepped on the gas.

16:49 CEST   
Martinez is still in the lead, with his two former companions between him and the peloton.

16:50 CEST   
What happened to those crowds we mentioned earlier? They must all be inside for siesta -- they don't seem to be standing on the streets watching the race!

16:53 CEST   
The peloton has turned and is riding past a sparkling white sand beach. Hopefully they can get some of that nice sea breeze, too.

Martinez is hanging on to a 1.22 lead.

17:01 CEST   
Martinez takes the last sprint of the day, just as his former companions Champion and Lequatre are absorbed back into the field. The sprint is also the finish line -- don't worry, there's another lap to go -- and the peloton crosses it 64 seconds later.

Jeremy Roy of Française des Jeux tries his luck and shoots out of the peloton.

17:02 CEST   
Roy has caught Martinez and the two make their way through the city. Roy leads and Martinez may be hoping just to hang on.

17:06 CEST   
Quick.Step, Milram and Lampre are in the head at the peloton, with the magenta T-Mobile jerseys also in sight. The party is almost over for Martinez -- his lead is down to 18 seconds.

17:08 CEST    132.4km/14km to go
14 km to go and only 14 seconds lead for Roy and Martinez......

17:11 CEST   
The peloton still isn't going all out. Sprinter Magnus Backstedt is showing a pulse of 138, only 75 percent of his max. Roy's pulse is probably higher, he is still doing all the work in the two-man group.

17:12 CEST    135.4km/11km to go
The crowds have gathered along the finish line, in the shade, and the peloton crosses the finish line 36 seconds behind the two leaders. It's the last lap!

17:16 CEST   
Martinez won't have any chance to win the stage today, but he will get a reward. Tomorrow he can start the stage in the white jersey of the mountain champion. He won both ranked climbs today and has 12 points, while his two escape-group companions each have six points.

17:18 CEST   
Roy is alone in the lead now, presumably Martínez is back in the field. He is only 12 seconds ahead, though.

17:21 CEST    141.4km/5km to go
Only seconds before Roy is back in the peloton, one of his teammates comes out and flies on past him. It's Carl de Cruz. The peloton isn't taking it lying down, they have picked up their speed.

17:22 CEST   
Quick.Step is setting a blistering pace now as they wind their way through the city.

17:25 CEST    143.9km/2.5km to go
Quick.Step, Milram, Discovery Channel all near the front of the group.

17:26 CEST   
300 metres to go

17:27 CEST   
Bennati takes it just ahead of Petacchi!

17:28 CEST   
Daniele Bennati of Lampre took the sprint ahead of Freire and Petacchi. It almost looked like Petacchi stopped trying once Bennati passed him just ahead of the finish line.

17:37 CEST   
So, as expected, the first stage ended in a mass sprint, with a worthy winner. The other big names weren't all that far back and will have their chances in the days to come.

Thanks for joining us today, and be sure to come back tomorrow when we watch Daniele Bennati make his way from Vigo to Luarca in his golden leader's jersey.

Provisional results

1 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
4 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step Innergetic
6 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
7 Koldo Fernández (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
9 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
10 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis

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