Zberg Takes Stage 1
The 42nd edition of the Vuelta Ciclista del Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) started to-day with a stage of 139 kilometers that start & finish in the Basque town of Zalla in Northern Spain.
There will be 5 stages with very hard profiles, of the 25 climbs of note, there are 4 first, 11 second & 10 third category.
The riders taking part are of the highest standard, as the Vuelta is an important form building race before the Giro de Italia, the first big tour of the year. The only missing stars being Jan Ullrich & Lance Armstrong.
Teams and favorites entered include:
Lampre – Daikin, Fassa Bortolo (Casagrande), Telekom (Vinokourov), Rabobank (Leipheimer, Boogerd), Mapei-Quick Step (Garzelli), Once-Eroski (Beloki), Lotto-Adecco, iBanesto, Cofidis, Alessio, Kelme, CSC-Tiscali
Euskaltel – Euskadi, Saeco (Gilberto Simoni), Coast (Zulle), Ag2R Prevoyance, Relax-Fuenlabrada , Jazztel-Costa Almeria, Gerolsteiner (Rebellin)
A wearing down process over to-day’s 6 climbs thinned the front group down to about 30 riders with 12 kilometers and 1 hill to the finish, Aitor Osa (ibanesto.com) made the first attempt to go it alone, then Francesco Casagrande ( Fassa Bortolo ) tried but to no avail. Attacks from Rebellin, Vinokourov & Boogerd were all pulled back by Casagrande, who must have been feeling strong, but it was all down to the sprint won by a length by Beat Zberg after 3 hours 32 minutes of racing.
Result Zberg Rabobank
F.Casagrande Fassa Bortolo
Cipollini not doing Paris-Roubaix, wild card entry for team withdrawn!