Horrible Hundred

Vino Attacks Vuelta

Here's why it was a shame that Alexandre Vinokourov wasn't able to race in the Tour de France.
The predatory Kazakh just did what he's so famous for --
attack! -- last weekend in the Tour of Spain
(Vuelta), winning two consecutive mountain stages after finishing a close second in another.

The performance after a sluggish opening week lifted Vinokourov (Team Astana) to 5th place overall at the Vuelta's midway point, 1:38 behind pre-race favorite Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). Also in the running is Vino's teammate, Andrey Kashechkin, lying 2nd overall at 27 seconds  Interestingly, those three riders did not race much if at all in the Tour de France. Valverde went out in the first week with a broken collarbone while the two Kazakhs fell victim to Astana being unable to field enough riders to start. Five of the nine men on its Tour team were suspended on the eve of the race because of their alleged participation in doping.  On the other hand, currently 3rd-place Carlos Sastre (CSC) is riding his fifth consecutive grand tour. His chances in the Vuelta are being discounted against the much fresher Valverde, Kashechkin and Vinokourov.
An early revelation, 22-year-old Slovenian Janez Brajkovic of Discovery Channel, has slipped to 6th place after briefly wearing the leader's gold jersey. He's still Discovery's best-placed rider after team captain Tom Danielson inexplicably faltered in the opening mountain stages, slipping to 15th placeand out of contention, 6:20 off the pace.  The 61st Vuelta has seen four lead changes and plenty of aggression through the first 11 stages. The peloton is now in relatively flat transition stages before heading back into the mountains for the final week. Two time trials also remain before the finish in Madrid on Sept. 17.



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