It's Millar time again!
Saunier Duval's David Millar today finally achieved what he has been hoping since he came back into the pro ranks after his two-year-ban: a complete come-back with a ProTour victory in his specialty, the time trial. In an exciting and tight race today in Cuenca, Millar beat Fabian Cancellara (CSC) by a hair, with Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) taking third place five seconds down.
"I'm very happy! I’ve been feeling better and better over the past two weeks, and I’m much more confident now," said Millar. "Today’s course was quite taxing and in the last part it was all extremely tight, that is where I could do the difference."
As for Cancellara, the disappointment ran deep. "I'm really upset - I wanted to win down here so badly," the Swiss champion said after the race. "For a long time I actually thought my time was good enough to do it. As the time trial went on and more and more riders finished, I became more and more sure, and I even had a better time than Millar at the time check at the top of the climb, but when you start so much later like David did today, you have the advantage that you already know the fastest time, so you aim to beat it. In that case you're often able to dig that much deeper in the end."
Cancellara explained further that he is not expecting to go all the way to Madrid, as he wants to prepare for the World Championships as much as possible, where the time trial is his main priority.
In the overall classification, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) defended his #1 position against Andrey Kashechkin (Astana), with the Kazakhstani actually losing another 7 seconds on the Spaniard. Carlos Sastre (CSC) also lost some time today, but he retained his third placing. Vinokourov is now fourth, at 1.38 of Valverde.
"It's not a surprise to me," declared Valverde after he crossed the finish line. "This year, I had already shown that I had improved considerably in the time trials. I still had to prove it in a really important one. I started very quickly, but it is in the Alto del Castillo, as well as in the descent that I really gave it all.
"My good result of today is another step towards the final victory. Yesterday, I was the one who won 8 seconds on Vinokourov thanks to the time bonuses and today the Kazakh won those seconds back. On the whole, I believe that the balance is in my favour because many people, and Vinokourov included, thought that I was going to concede much more time in the time trial. I believe to have realized an excellent result and all that I hope for now, it is to continue in the same way until the end of Vuelta."