Vino Attacks Vuelta
Here's why it was a shame that
wasn't able to race in the Tour de France.
The predatory Kazakh just did what he's so famous for --
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
Also in the running is Vino's teammate,
Andrey Kashechkin, lying 2nd overall at
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
(CSC) is riding his fifth consecutive grand tour.
His chances in the Vuelta are being discounted against the much fresher
Valverde, Kashechkin and
An early revelation, 22-year-old Slovenian
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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