Plaza smashes Grand Tour TT record
A brilliant ride, a flat course, and a tailwind has helped Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana) to break the record for the fastest ever non-prologue time trial in a Grand Tour. Plaza, who finished second in the last long Vuelta time trial, clocked 41'31 for the 38.9 km at an amazing average speed of 56.2 km/h, marginally better than race leader Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros), who was half a second slower. Carlos Sastre (CSC), Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Francesco Mancebo (Illes Balears) rounded out the top five, all finishing within just 10 seconds of each other. Thus, there were no great changes to the general classification.
The times showed continual improvement all day as the riders flew between Guadalajara and Alcala de Henares. Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), then Rik Verbrugghe (Quick.Step), and Angel Vicioso (Liberty) posted quick times, but were bettered by the later riders. Victor Hugo Peña (Phonak) set an imposing mark of 41'54, which eventually gave him sixth place. But then the top riders on general classification battled with each other and Ruben Plaza to fight it out for the stage honours. In the end, Plaza's time was just good enough, although Heras showed that he was the best rider in the race by beating everyone else.