Vuelta’07 St. 1: Bennati Scores First
Despite a text-book lead-out from the Milram train for the Ale Jet, on a runway- wide and flat finishing straight, it was Daniele Bennati (Lampre & Italy) who started the Vuelta as he finished le Tour back in July with a perfectly judged surge to take the 145 kilometre first stage of the Tour of Spain under a hot sun in the Galician fishing port of Vigo.
As veteran-flyer Erik Zabel swung-off, it looked like all that Petacchi had to do was win, but Bennati is in the first division of sprinters now and accelerated smoothly past his countryman to take that leader’s jersey. Oscar Freire (Rabobank and Spain) was shaking that wise head of his as he free- wheeled past Petacchi to take second but didn’t have the gap to get the placing that really matters – his form is good though and a stage win or two will surely come his way. Ale Jet was only third and little Aussie, Allan Davis (Discovery) showed no hesitation in barging big Tom Boonen (QuickStep) out of the way to grab fourth and leave the Belgian flat-footed in fifth spot.
It was always going to end in a big sprint, but three men decided to make the journalists and commentators lives a little easier by going up the road. The break of the day was started by Serafin Martinez Acevedo (Karpin-Galizia and Spain) who went clear at 23 kilometres; he was then joined by French duo
Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) and Geoffrey Lequatre (Cofidis).
The bunch, and Milram in particular were happy to, ‘let ‘em dangle’, as the
Aussies say, and the lead hovered around two to a maximum of three minutes; in the interests of having something to write, it was time to reach for the cycling almanac, ‘Velo 2007’ to get the low-down on the breakaways.
Martinez wasn’t quoted, but the man from the local outfit; – Galazia is the
Spanish spelling of Galicia, where this year’s Vuelta started – didn’t labour
in vain, his sojourn off the front took him into the mountains jersey and he
cleared-off on the last climb to make-sure of the points and try and solo to
the finish – a forlorn but enterprising hope.
Lequatre is in his second season with Cofidis, after four years with Credit
Agricole and not much in the way of palmares. Champion, my moodily-posed Bouygues team photo cards tell me – was 2005 French espoir time trial champion and 2006 French amateur champion, maybe a man for the future, especially after a podium place in this years French elite time trial championship.
As the three rode and the bunch maintained station, it was time to find
something else to say. My equivalent of Dave Duffield telling you what he had for dinner last night is to reach for the “Rough Guide to Spain” – ‘Vigo is a large and superbly situated city . . . seen from a ship entering the harbour, it is magnificent, though once ashore you may well find the views back out to sea to be its most attractive feature.’
Not a good start, but then there’s a quote that the cobbled streets around
the Rua Real are; ‘the best drinking streets in Christendom’ – so that’s why
Al Hamilton was so keen to see the start.
On a more serious note, Disco’s Tom Danielson’s notorious bad luck continued as he crashed out of the race at the feed; let’s hope life is easier at Slipstream.
Martinez was finally caught late in the day by Jeremy Roy (Francaise Des
Jeux & France) and the two got-down to the impossible job of holding-off the
Martinez succumbed after all that time in the lead and eventually Roy too
cracked, at six K to go, simultaneously his team mate Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) launched a huge counter-attack, but it lasted barely a kilometre.
After that it was ‘train-spotting’ time, with Milram, QuickStep, Discovery,
T-Mobile all shovelling the coals; but it was those air-conditioning
salesmen from Lampre-Fondital who kept the coolest.
Stage & GC Vuelta07 Results After Stage 1
1є 112 BENNATI, Daniele ITA LAM 3:43:09
2є 155 FREIRE, Уscar ESP RAB m.t.
3є 191 PETACCHI, Alessandro ITA MRM m.t.
4є 63 DAVIS, Allan AUS DSC m.t.
5є 144 BOONEN, Tom BEL QSI m.t.
6є 25 CLERC, Aurйlien SUI BTL m.t.
7є 74 FERNБNDEZ, Koldo ESP EUS m.t.
8є 192 ZABEL, Erik GER MRM m.t.
9є 27 MARTIAS, Rony FRA BTL m.t.
10є 43 DUQUE, Leonardo COL COF m.t.