By Shane Stokes in Granada
Phonak team-mates Santiago Botero and Floyd Landis had different fortunes in Saturday's opening time trial of the Vuelta a España. Botero went into the test not expecting too much from himself as he is returning to racing following a lay-off from racing after the Tour. Speaking to Cyclingnews on Thursday, he said that he estimated his condition at just 50 percent. "It will be hard to do a good prologue," he stated, "because I don't have the legs."
However, the former world time trial champion fared well, placing 9th on the stage. He was 18 seconds off the winning time of Denis Menchov. "I was happy enough with the time trial," he said before the start of today's stage in Granada. "I didn't start off thinking doing that I would do a good time trial. I was relaxed, too relaxed, maybe... In the end, I did a good time - not super, but good."
Botero is in the Vuelta in order to prepare for the World's in Madrid. He is aiming to repeat his time trial victory of 2002. Initial signs are positive. "I am optimistic that I am building good form for the world championships," he said.
Meanwhile, Floyd Landis finished a little further back than many expected, placing 46th on the stage. He lost 37 seconds to Menchov over the seven kilometre distance, most of this on the uphill section. However, he didn't seem too phased by it this morning. "It is what I expected," he said. "I haven't raced in a while, and it hurt! But that is normal, I guess."
"I am happy enough with the start, I wasn't expecting to win. I just need to sharpen up a bit."
Landis hit the deck while out training on Thursday. He's still feeling the effects of that, but says he should be back to normal soon. "I was a bit stiff after the crash the other day, so that may have had an effect too. Hopefully after today I'll be back to normal," he said.