Spain’s Javi Moreno won the individual time trial in the second part of a split opening stage to the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol on Wednesday as his compatriot Alberto Contador claimed an early eight-second advantage over Chris Froome.
Moreno’s time of 9 minutes, 51 seconds over the 8.2km course through Coria del Rio edged out Wilco Kelderman and Jerome Coppel by two and four seconds respectively.
Contador was six seconds back in fourth, but that was enough to take the race leader’s red jersey with Froome finishing 10th in the time trial and down in fourth overall.
“It was a very explosive stage with constant changes of pace,” said Contador, who announced his intention to retire at the end of next season earlier this week. “I am happy with the result, but to be leading is merely representative, the race has just begun. The really tough bit is to come in a few days.”
With no bonus seconds on offer for stage winners, Contador will almost certainly have the advantage as the two battle it out for overall victory across two mountain top finishes today and tomorrow, before a more sprinter-friendly final stage on Sunday.
Neither Contador nor Froome were affected by a crash-ridden first stage of the day in which Dutchman Pim Ligthart sprinted to victory ahead of Portugal’s Fabio Silvestre and Slovenia’s Grega Bole.
The Lotto Soudal rider won the 118.3km ride from La Rabida to Hinojos in Andalusia by two seconds after a crash 3km from the finish split the peloton in two.
Yesterday’s 191.7km second stage, the longest of the five-day race in Andalusia, was due to take the riders from Utrera to Lucena, Spain.
TOUR OF OMAN
Swiss veteran Fabian Cancellara, riding for Trek, shrugged off a heavy cold to win the second stage of the Tour of Oman and take the overall lead, following a 195.5km ride from al-Hazm Castle to al-Bustan on Wednesday.
The former Olympic and world champion, known as Spartacus, managed to keep pace with the leading group of 20 riders until the final two minor climbs, before launching a sprint that left Spaniard Alejandro Valverde in second and Greg van Avermaet of Belgium settling for third spot.
“It was a long, difficult sprint, because it was all uphill, but I’m really satisfied,” said Cancellara, who won the first edition of the Tour of Oman in 2010. “I told myself it wasn’t going to be a great day because I was so hot, but we took a different direction near the sea and the temperature came down a few degrees. I just tried to follow the best climbers with the strength I had left. I know in a few years it’s going to be finished for me, so I’m just trying to benefit now.”
Cancellara, 33, who won eight stages on the Tour de France between 2004 and 2012, and was a regular wearer of the maillot jaune, took the leader’s red jersey after a scorching hot day, with a four-second lead over Valverde going into yesterday’s third stage.
Austrian Patrick Konrad was third, five seconds back, as the peloton looked ahead to stage three and a 158km run that was due to begin and finish at al-Mussanah Sports City, bordering the Sea of Oman.
Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez lost 46 and 55 seconds respectively after losing touch with the escape group.
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, who was third in last year’s Tour de France, had a day to forget and lost 4 minutes, 59 seconds to see his general classification hopes crumble.
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