What's Cool In Road Cycling

Iban Mayo, First Leader In Vuelta Al Pais Vasco

After winning the Setmana Catalana, Dario Frigo has brought a strong Fassa Bortolo team to the Basque country, he’ll need it as there is a lot of Tour & Giro contenders here to show what they are made of.

The 43rd. Vuelta al Pais Vasco, or to give it it’s proper name: Euskal Herriko txirrindulari itzulia, try saying that when your pissed!! (Drunk)

On a sunny but cold day, the first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco kicked off on a 129 kilometre jaunt round the town of Legazpia. Paco Cabello (Kelme) went on his own at about half way to build up a lead of 4:27. Fassa Bortolo were doing most of the work behind, they have come here with possibly the strongest team, with Ivan Basso, Aitor Gonzalez, winner of the last Vuelta a Espaсa and the man with all the form in short stage races at the moment, Dario Frigo.

With 40 kilometres to go, on a flat part of the course, other teams started to help, ONCE, Euskaltel and Cassagrande’s Lampre.

Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) was sitting coolly in the middle of the bunch, wearing a strange grey wooly hat, not dissimilar to his grandmothers tea pot warmer, with the holes sewen up. Not sure if this will meet with the new UCI helmet regulations.

On the last loop of 38 kilometres and the severe climb of the Deskarga to cover, Cabello still had 2:34 on the main bunch. By 25 to go he was down to 2 minutes and Fassa Bortolo were again doing all the work. At the bottom of the Deskarga he had 30 seconds and now Lampre were in charge, he was still looking good, but the speed behind was doing the damage to his lead. They caught him on the climb with 15 kilometres to Legazpia.

Telekom, with a little help from Relax and Saeco, kept the pace high up the last 4 kilometres of the climb, then Vinokourov (Telekom) attacked on the steep part of the climb, with 2 kilometres to the top, Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) and Evans (Telekom) just behind and Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) with Dani De Luca (Saeco) in close attendance, over the top.

Piepoli (ibanesto) and Basso (Fassa Bortolo) were joined by Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Frigo on the start of the descent, the last 6 kilometres the finish is mostly down hill, but Sanches (Euskaltel) passed them and took Piepoli with him and had a gap on the chasers, who were again Fassa Bortolo. They caught them under the red kite, Iban Mayo shot past them to hold on to take the honours.

Tomorrow is from Legazpia to Plencia, 158 kilometres with climbs of Kampazar, Muniketa, Morga and Sollube, all early in the stage.

Stage 1 Result & Overall:

1st. I.Mayo (EUS) 3:20:06.
2nd. A.Vicioso (ONCE) same time.
3rd. T.Hamiltin (CSC) same time.
4th. K.Kirchen (FAS) same time.
5th. I.Astarloa (SAE) same time.
6th. A.Valverde (KEL) same time.
7th. D.Etxabarria (EUS) same time.
8th. D.Rebellin (GER) same time.
9th. F.Cassagrande (LAM) same time.
10th. A.Vinokourov (TEL) same time.

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