Erik Zabel wins following group sprint in Valencia

26 February 2008 – The opening stage of the Volta a Valenciana (26.2-1.3/UCI 2.2) was decided by a 24-man strong escape group.  On the last climb of the 157 km from Sagunto to Port de Sagunto, a group broke away from the peloton and was able to hold its lead until the finish.

The winner of the first of a total of five stages was the Spaniard José Iván Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), ahead of his countrymen Ruben Plaza (S.L. Benfica) and Xavier Florencio (Bouyges Telecom).  The best MILRAM rider on the day was Erik Zabel.  The MILRAM captain won the sprint of the second group and finished 25th.

„We are here with a team for mass sprints,“ said Raul Liebregts, Team MILRAM’s Directeur Sportif. „So it was hard for us to play a part in the decision today in this challenging stage.  We are looking to the next days.  The flatter race profile is better for us and I think that we will be in the front.“

The second stage of the Volta a Valenciana goes over a rolling 178 km with five third-ranked climbs, from Alzira to Xativa.

The Stages:

26.02. 1st Stage: Sagunto – Port de Sagunto (157 km)

27.02. 2d Stage:  Alzira – Xativa (178 km)

28.02. 3d Stage:  Ibi – Ibi (166,5 km)

29.02. 4th Stage: Naquera – Naquera (175,6 km)

01.03. 5th Stage: Valencia – Valencia (149,5 km)

Total length: 826,6 km


Team MILRAM’s line-up:
 Erik Zabel (GER), Alessandro Petacchi (ITA), Alberto Ongarato (ITA), Brett Lancaster (AUS), Christian Knees (GER), Igor Astarloa (ESP), Marco Velo (ITA), Volodymyr Diudia (UKR)

Directeurs Sportif:  Antonio Bevilacqua (ITA), Raoul Liebregts (NED)

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