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Russian Alexandr Kolobnev (Rabobank) won today's opening stage of the Tour of Valencia when he came in alone in Calpe after nearly 100 kilometres out in front. The Russian broke away after 50km of the 148km stage and opened up a lead of more than nine minutes before the bunch began to chase him down.
However, this was one of the rare occasions when the peloton misjudged their chase and the Russian finished 27 seconds ahead of the pack. On the seven per cent rise to the finish, Saunier Duval sprinter Francisco Ventoso outpaced defending Valencia champion Alessandro Petacchi to take second place.
The race began without three riders who were declared unfit to start by International Cycling Union doctors. The trio were all Spaniards from the 3 Molinos Resort team - Toni Tauler, Rafael Casero and Alberto Benito.
Tauler later said that he had been prevented from starting due to an abnormally low level of reticulocytes - immature red blood cells - and not because of an elevated red blood cell count or haemoglobin level. Tauler told the Todociclismo website he had been very close to the lower reticulocyte level during previous tests carried out last October and also in January, and said that his level is naturally low. He explained that he didn't understand why the UCI had prevented him from starting based on this prior knowledge.
Tauler claimed that he had been told by one of a UCI doctor that he would not have to take a test to detect the blood-booster EPO because there was no chance of him failing it.
However, Benito and Casero were prevented from starting because of elevated red blood cell counts and did undergo EPO tests.
Stage 1, Calpe-Calpe
1 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Rabobank 148.2km in 3.35.08 (41.33kph)
2 Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval 0.27
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
4 Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Kaiku
5 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Phonak
6 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros
7 Xabat Otxotorena (Spa) Orbea
8 Ricardo Serrano (Spa) Kaiku
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel
10 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre
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