47th Vuelta al País Vasco - PT
Spain, April 9-14, 2007
Cobo takes first victory
Juan Jose Cobo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) got his very first professional victory today at the prestigious ProTour event Vuelta al Pais Vasco’s stage 1, that started and ended in Urretxu. Constantino Zaballa (Caisse d'Epargne) was second, 10 seconds slower while Oscar Sevilla (Relax) ended up third, 11 seconds behind Cobo on the final climb to Santa Barbara.
The rider from Cantabria now leads the general classification over such great names such Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre). In the finale, the rain added some emotion to the hilltop finish where the man in yellow succeeded. GC favourites Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) ended up 17 and 32 seconds behind the winner.
How it unfolded
184 riders took the start of the Basque tour in Urretxu; 21 of them are Basque. Very early on, before kilometre five, four riders made a breakaway: Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Aitor Hernandez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Vicente Ballester (Fuerteventura) and Javier Ramirez (Fuerteventura). Russia's Denis Menchov (Rabobank) abandoned the race very early; he put his foot on the ground at kilometre 18.
The four leaders were able to make their gap grow as they led by almost five minutes at km 62, even though the route was full of ups and downs. The breakaway collaborated well for miles until Pablo Lastras made an attack at km 110. With 15 kilometres to go, Lastras led by 24 seconds over Hernandez while the peloton started to split with the favourites in the front group as they went up Alto de Aztiria. At that point, the favourites and the rest of the peloton were only a little over a minute behind the leader.
At the summit of Aztiria, with 9 kilometres to go, Juan Jose Cobo (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Constantino Zaballa (Caisse D'Epargne), Oscar Sevilla (Relax), Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) caught Lastras and Hernandez and took the leadership. This group was 30 seconds ahead of the favourites.
The last climb was the Alto de Santa Barbara. With just 500 metres to go, Juan Jose Cobo attacked the leading group and left his breakaway mates behind. The Saunier Duval rider maintained the gap and crossed the finish line in first place with Zaballa in second place, 10 seconds behind and Sevilla third 11 seconds slower than the winner of the stage.