Vuelta riders anticipate time trial

Stage eight of the Vuelta a España will feature a 52.5km time trial from Denominación de Origen...

Stage eight of the Vuelta a España will feature a 52.5km time trial from Denominación de Origen Cariñena to Saragossa. It is downhill all the way, dropping from 560 metres to 210 metres. The exceptionally long time trial is expected to bring another major shake-up in the overall classification.

Overall leader Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) analyzed his possibilities for tomorrow. "I know that it will not be easy, but I will start very motivated thanks to the golden jersey. Time-trials are not my specialty and until now, I disputed only once such a long one, last year during the Giro d'Italia.

"Earlier this year I lost the Tour of Switzerland on the occasion of the final time trial, but the conditions are different and I feel much better now than I felt then," said Efimkin. "The riders which follow me in the general classification are all more or less specialists, to begin with [Denis] Menchov and [Cadel] Evans, and I know that it will be difficult to fight with equal chance, but I will certainly not give up."

On the other hand, Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) is a known time trialist and evaluated his chances. "It is maybe the longest in the history of Vuelta a España. It is what we [have] got to ride," said Sastre to TVE. "It doesn't matter whether it is that long or shorter. For me, it is a time trial that needs too much power; it is not the most favorable for me.

"But if I want to succeed in this Vuelta a España, I have to ride it well," said Sastre. "I am willing to ride it. Tomorrow in the morning, we will see the route in order to know how it will be the race in the afternoon. It is a tough time trial. 50 percent of the Vuelta will be decided in the next three days. The second half of the race won't be so spectacular but there are stages with much tension and with much toughness."

José Ángel Gómez Marchante (Saunier Duval - Prodir) wasn't too excited about his upcoming effort. "It would be great if we had a tailwind tomorrow - and it seems we will - because there'll be smaller differences this way. I don't like the route at all - it's a fully flat course for time trialists only. We, climbers, will find it difficult. Last year I showed I had improved in time-trial tests, and I hope I can do good against the clock tomorrow too. 2 or 3 minutes behind the specialists would be acceptable, but even if I'm slower, I won't give up. I'll continue to fight for the GC, at least until the race hits Cerler."

His team-mate Leonardo Piepoli added. "I'm not worried about tomorrow's time-trial. I know I'll lose time, but to me it's ok if I am four or six minutes behind, as the GC wasn't and still isn't my goal. I came here to grab a mountain stage win. In Lagos, I was close to victory but I couldn't make it in the end. Tomorrow, my mind will be already in Cerler and Andorra. Moreover, in the last week, there's the mountain-top finish in Abantos. I'm perfectly aware that, in a sense, my Vuelta finishes on Monday."

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