Dauphiné Libéré 3: Astana to the fore

Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin finished first and second in the Dauphiné Libéré

Cycling: 59e Critérium Dauphiné Libéré / Prologue
 VINOKOUROV Alexandr (KAZ) /
Grenoble - Grenoble (4,2 Km)
Time trial Contre la Montre Tijdrit / Proloog / Rit Etape / UCI Pro Tour / 
(c)Tim De Waele

Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin finished first and second in the Dauphiné Libéré

The Dauphin Libr switched gears once again as the leader’s jersey went to today’s stage 3 winner, as Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin finished first and second, with American David Zabriskie (Team CSC) placing third. “The Dauphine is always a great test for the Tour de France, and this shows I’m on track for July,” Vinokourov said. “I can’t say it was a surprise, I was motivated and when I clocked the fastest time at the first checkpoint, I decided to go all out. “You can’t win the Tour without winning time trials, so this is an excellent omen,” he added. “My only dream now is to win the Tour.” The Ventoux itself holds few secrets for Vinokourov, whose previous Dauphine stage win was on the 20.5 km climb back in 2005. “I’m not going to set myself any targets there,” Vinokourov added. “I wanted to do a good ride today and another on Saturday’s stage (in the Alps). Maybe tomorrow I’ll try to help (teammate) Kashechkin take the lead.” It was a also day of threes for Team CSC’s Zabriskie, who scored an impressive third-place in Wednesday’s hot 40.7-kilometer time trial at the the Dauphin Libr and bounced into third place overall. Wearing the U.S. national champions jersey, Zabriskie was the only rider to seriously challenge the dominance by the Kazakh pair of Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin, who finished one-two in the decisive race against the clock. “When I was doing my warm-up this morning, I knew that I could be competitive,” said Zabriskie, who was third at 38 seconds slower. “I could feel that I was losing some time toward the end of the race.” Last year, Zabriskie blew through the Dauphin, winning both the prologue and the individual time trial. This year, the Utahan is coming off the Giro d’Italia, but he said he feels surprisingly fresh despite the rigors of racing for three weeks in Italy. “You think the Giro would make me tired, but I feel alright,” Zabriskie said. “Mentally I am still fresh, that is the most important thing. You know me, I will try to do what I can (in the overall).” Two more Team CSC riders finished in the top 30, with Volodymir Gustov stopping the clock 26th at 2:59 off the pace and Bobby Julich with 28th at 3:02 back. One rider happy to still be in the Dauphin was Team CSC’s Christian Vande Velde, who crashed hard on a downhill section during Tuesday’s stage into Saint-Etienne. A banged up Vande Velde finished an uncharacteristic 102nd at 5:48 off the pace (still under one hour, as he proudly pointed out to his teammates), but the American was thankful it was a time trial instead of a grueling road stage. “I lost my drive-train yesterday on the descent and went over my handlebars and landed hard on my back and shoulders,” said Vande Velde. “I didn’t have to go to the hospital. The team doctors checked me out and thankfully I don’t have any broken bones. I’m glad it was a time trial today and I could ride at my own pace.” Vande Velde said he still hopes to be able to finish the Dauphin, which now enters a string of blistering climbing stages across the French Alps. The 59th Dauphin Libr ups the tempo Thursday for the grueling climbing stage from Hauterives to Mont Ventoux. The route pushes south along the edge of the Rhone Valley before hitting some relatively minor climbs in the final half before tackling the fearsome climb to the moonlike Ventoux summit. Results 1 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz, Astana) 52:08:95 (46,841 km/h) 2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz, Astana) 00:08:45 3 David Zabriskie (USA, Team CSC) 00:37:38 4 Cadel Evans (Aus, Predictor-Lotto) 00:38:12 5 Denis Menchov (Rus, Rabobank) 00:39:52 6 Stef Clement (Ned, Bouygues Telecom) 01:06:13 7 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra, Cofidis) 01:09:41 8 Levi Leipheimer (USA, Discovery Channel) 01:10:68 9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa, Caisse d’Epargne) 01:17:60 10 David Millar (GBr, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 01:35:52 11 Tadej Valjavec (Slo, Lampre-Fondital) 01:44:64 12 Bert Grabsch (Ger, T-Mobile) 02:07:77 13 George Hincapie (USA, Discovery Channel) 02:09:11 14 Markus Fothen (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 02:21:04 15 Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukr, Milram) 02:21:22 16 Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 02:29:55 17 Egoi Mart¡nez (Spa, Discovery Channel) 02:29:98 18 Bernhard Kohl (Aut, Gerolsteiner) 02:30:39 19 Thomas Voeckler (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 02:31:89 20 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz, Astana) 02:33:62 General classification after stage 3 1 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz, Astana) 10:23:23 (40,511 km/h) 2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz, Astana) 00:00:02 3 David Zabriskie (USA, Team CSC) 00:00:32 4 Denis Menchov (Rus, Rabobank) 00:00:40 5 Cadel Evans (Aus, Predictor-Lotto) 00:00:41 6 Levi Leipheimer (USA, Discovery Channel) 00:01:03 7 Stef Clement (Ned, Bouygues Telecom) 00:01:05 8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra, Cofidis) 00:01:07 9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa, Caisse d’Epargne) 00:01:12 10 David Millar (GBr, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 00:01:33 11 Tadej Valjavec (Slo, Lampre-Fondital) 00:01:57 12 George Hincapie (USA, Discovery Channel) 00:02:03 13 Bert Grabsch (Ger, T-Mobile) 00:02:08 14 Jos Antonio Redondo (Spa, Astana) 00:02:09 15 Christophe Moreau (Fra, Ag2r Prvoyance) 00:02:20 16 Egoi Mart¡nez (Spa, Discovery Channel) 00:02:26 17 Markus Fothen (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 00:02:27 18 Thomas Voeckler (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 00:02:30 19 Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 00:02:31 20 Dominique Cornu (Bel. Predictor-Lotto) 00:02:37 Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.