Astana's Levi Leipheimer won the 31st Clásica Internacional a los Puertos de Guadarrama, after a solo effort of 10 kilometers. The Olympic time-trial bronze medalist beat teammate Alberto Contador by 41 seconds.
The Clásica a los Puertos is a preparatory race for the Tour of Spain, which starts next Saturday in Granada. Contador is aiming to win his third Grand Tour in a row, having won the 2007 Tour de France and the 2008 Giro d'Italia.
“This is a very special victory for me,” Leipheimer said. “Today I raced for the last time in my USA national champion kit. It's been a honour to wear the stars and stripes and win a medal for my country, but this year I've decided to focus on the Tour of Spain, which has been a major Team goal since early in the season.”
The six Astana Cycling Team riders (Contador, Leipheimer, Dmitriy Muravyev, Daniel Navarro, Sérgio Paulinho and José Luis Rubiera), rode a calculated Clásica a los Puertos. Leipheimer and Rubiera were in the first breakaway of the day. On the Alto de León, Contador left the peloton and closed the leading group's two-minute advantage.
In that group of 18 riders, everybody watched Contador and aimed his wheel. The fourth place Olympic time trial finisher did not stay with the group of 13 riders (with Leipheimer and Rubiera) and instead rejoined the chasing peloton. On the Puerto de Navacerrada, a first category climb, Contador escaped again from the main group. On the top he joined the leaders; five of who went to the finish in Guadarrama. Contador tried to escape, but was unsuccessful, however his teammate Leipheimer rode a perfect 10 kilometer solo “time trial” and recorded his sixth victory of the season.
“It was nice for me to race on my training circuit in the Madrilene Sierra," Contador said. "I'm feeling good and am very happy to see that my teammates are in good condition as well. We are excited to start the last Grand Tour of the season on Saturday."
For a complete report with photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.
Andreas Kloden racing the Vuelta
Astana's German rider Andreas Kloden, twice runner-up in the Tour de France, will compete in the Tour of Spain from August 30 to September 21, his team said Sunday.
Kloden opted for the Vuelta over the Tour of Germany, to support Spanish teammate Contador.
Kloden, runner-up in the Tour de France in 2004 and 2006, did not compete this year after his Astana team was barred from the event.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008