Postal win gives Landis Vuelta lead

A momentous day for Floyd Landis as US Postal win the Vuelta's opening team time trial in convincing

A momentous day for Floyd Landis as US Postal win the Vuelta's opening team time trial in convincing
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE They may be lacking Lance Armstrong and a number of other Tour de France notables, but the US Postal team didn't let that prevent them from recording a convincing victory in the opening team time trial stage of the Vuelta in Leon this afternoon. The American team finished 31 seconds ahead of T-Mobile over the 27.7km course, with the race lead going to Floyd Landis, who led the successful Postal team across the line. Only two other teams got within a minute of US Postal's time, giving Landis and co a substantial boost on the very first day of racing. Pre-event favourite Alejandro Valverde probably won't be too disappointed with his CV-Kelme team's fourth place at 58 seconds, especially as it gives him an advantage on most of his likely rivals. Phonak's Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla were fifth at 1.01, defending champion Roberto Heras's Liberty Seguros team was eighth at 1.28, while Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego ended the day another 10 seconds back as his Saeco team finished ninth. Euskaltel's dismal run of form continued as they trailed in last of all the 21 teams, leaving team leader Haimar Zubeldia almost two and a half minutes down after not much more than two dozen kilometres of racing. US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel was naturally delighted with the result. "I knew this was our first opportunity here and it went a lot better than I could have dreamed of," he said. "I knew there would be some (time) differences but not big differences. Then you see the results and it's pretty impressive what our team did. Everything went really smooth. "We insisted on starting fast because in the past two team time trials here we lost all of our time in the beginning and still finished pretty strong," said Bruyneel. "So this time we started fast and we were ahead early and rode really well throughout. It was a good start but it doesn't change our strategy. I still maintain we are here to win some stages and at least until the mountains, we will keep that strategy." Bruyneel went on to say the team decided in the last few kilometers to have Landis lead the team over the line, thus allowing him to don the race's golden jersey. "With two kilometers to go, we decided to have Floyd pass first, as he was by far the strongest on the team today. He deserved to take the jersey." Sunday's second stage takes the race across the province of Castilla e Leon to Burgos. Although a flat stage on paper, the winds in this region can be horrifically tough and it would be a surprise to see the whole bunch finishing together after more than 200 kilometres out on exposed roads. Stage 1, Leon-Leon 1 US Postal-Berry Floor 27.7km in 30.45 (54.05kph) 2 T-Mobile 0.31 3 Illes Balears 0.56 4 CV-Kelme 0.58 5 Phonak 1.01 6 CSC 1.24 7 Fassa Bortolo 1.25 8 Liberty Seguros 1.28 9 Saeco 1.38 10 Relax-Bodysol 1.41 11 Lampre 1.46 12 Ag2r 1.49 13 Cofidis 14 Saunier Duval 1.50 15 Cafs Baqu 1.54 16 Alessio-Bianchi 2.00 17 Costa de Almeria 2.01 18 Vini Caldirola 2.12 19 Quick Step 2.13 20 Rabobank 2.16 21 Euskaltel 2.27
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