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Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) took over the overall lead just before the rest day
Five leaders in six days show that the 2008 Vuelta route chosen for the first week was diverse...
Five leaders in six days show that the 2008 Vuelta route chosen for the first week was diverse enough to give something to everyone. The race started in the southern heat of Granada and wound its way north over interesting stages. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake looked back at the first week and glimpsed ahead to the second week with all its mountain stages.
The race started with an unusual, yet interestingly short 7.7-kilometre team time trial to keep everybody within earshot of yellow. The course was long enough to hand out a true first golden jersey, but short enough to keep the overall situation tense. The time bonuses handed out for each stage (20, 12 and eight seconds for the first three, except for the time trial stages) also kept things dynamic in top of the leader board.
Puncheurs like Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) or Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) had chances of stage wins and/or the leader's jersey just as well as sprinters like Daniele Bennati (Liquigas). An early flat time trial finally saw the overall contenders move forward. Levi Leipheimer took the 42.5-kilometre race against the clock and put on his first ever leader's jersey in a Grand Tour. His Astana teammate Alberto Contador was close by. The mountains will show who will emerge as the leader of the team.
Leipheimer didn't get to enjoy the golden feeling for long, though, as Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) had produced an incredible time trial to be only two seconds behind Leipheimer on GC. Chavanel used his aggressiveness, his strong Cofidis team and the fact that Astana did not want to keep the jersey at all costs so early in the race to take over. There were a total of six possible spots for the bonus (two sprints giving out bonuses to the first three each) and all of those six spots were occupied by Cofidis riders.
Click here to read the full rest day wrap from the Vuelta a España.