Stage 8 - C.R.I. Ford (Almusafes) 40,1 kms. For live report and results, click
Hamilton heads for home. (c) Unipublic.
Hamilton’s perfect tribute.
Grand Tours are always a balance between the time trial stages and the mountains. However today, in what was a thrilling day's racing, the mountain men upset the testers and managed to limit their losses to the surprise of many spectators. Riders like Juan Garate, a pure climber, managed to finish at the same time as Laszlo Bodrogi, a time trial specialist. Similarly, Roberto Heras finished just 5 seconds off the pace of Aitor Gonzelez. In the first individual time trial of the Vuelta, only the riders of Saunier Duval, led by Joseba Beloki, suffered big losses, and at the end of the day Joseba finished 3.26 down, which may mean the yellow team will start to think of stage victories rather than contending the overall.
It was two riders from the USA who took the main honours of the day. Olympic time trial champion Tyler Hamilton, wearing his usual “go faster” bandages, topped an impressive display by his Phonak team to take the podium spot. Phonak, which is led by Alvaro Pino, controlled each metre of the race, noting down the times of each rider, and after Bert Grabsch had set the early benchmark the road was open for Hamilton to make a big impression. Hamilton had spent the last few months training exclusively for this type of race and he also had a special motivation. Following his victory he dedicated his triumph to: "Everyone affected by the attacks of the 11th September 2001, three years ago today".
Meanwhile US Postal, who have led the race from the start were determined not to let the Gold jersey slip through their fingers. Pena, Landis and Beltran all finished in the top 4 and once again the Golden shirt changed hands within the US Postal team, today Beltran passed the jersey back to Floyd Landis.
But this stage did not manage to produce the sort of shake up in General Classification that might have been expected. Tomorrow, the climbs begin and on the way up to Camino de Aitana, the true climbers such as Mancebo, Heras, Evans, Sastre, Menchov, Garate and Sevilla will be looking to regain time in what is becoming one of the most fascinating and open Major Tours for many years.
Landis back in Gold. (c) Unipublic.
Talking with TVE after the race a relaxed Tyler Hamilton answered a few questions –
Question: With the problem of your right hand, was this victory a surprise for you?”
Tyler Hamilton: No, sure it hurts, but I have ridden through pain before, anything less than a victory would have been a disappointment today. I am very happy with this victory but I will have to take it step by step to see how my form is since I had prepared for the Olympic Games and not to ride the Vuelta. We will have to wait and see how I will do on the first mountain stages. I do not know if I will be able to maintain good form over three weeks and we will have to wait and see how I go on the climbs".
Landis in action(c) Unipublic.