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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
Race leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) made himself the most beautiful birthday present today, by...
Race leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) made himself the most beautiful birthday present today, by showing again that he was the well-deserved winner of the Vuelta a España. On the day the Kazakhstani turned 33 years old, and only three days after taking the maillot oro off Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), he gave his very best once more to take his third stage victory in this Grand Tour: 'Vino' won the second and last time trial of the race, six seconds ahead of Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Former overall leader Valverde lost another 19 seconds on Vinokourov and finished third in the stage.
"I started out carefully," said Vinokourov, who will now savour his first overall victory in a Grand Tour. "But when I saw that I could win the stage, I put on the gas. The first week of the race was hard for me. After I won the stage in Lugo and La Cobertoria, things changed radically. And I started to think about the overall victory in Granada (finish of stage 17). This victory in the Vuelta is what I needed to be competitive in the 2007 Tour de France."
There were no changes on the general classification's Top 5. Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) moved up from tenth to eighth placing on GC after a solid performance in the time trial, where he finished fifth behind Vinokourov, 30 seconds down. Hungarian Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), who led the race before the favourites had started, ended up a very respectable fourth.