August 20, Prologue: Sittard - Geleen (NL) 4.4km
Gutierrez wins on a wet day
- Cycling News
August 20, 2008, 0:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 16:00 BST
José Gutierrez of Caisse d'Epargne defended his win in last year's Eneco Tour by setting the fastest...
Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) was within eight seconds of his stage winning team-mate.
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José Gutierrez of Caisse d'Epargne defended his win in last year's Eneco Tour by setting the fastest time in the short prologue with a 5'31.9 to secure the first leader's jersey. He nipped Cyril Lemoine of Credit Agricole, who led much of the day and had covered the 4.4 km course in 5'31.98. He was only one second faster that Team Columbia's Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, who was third at 5.32.
It looked for a long time as if Lemoine's time would be good for the win, especially when heavy rains moved in and slowed everyone down. Both Lemoine and Boasson Hagen rode early in the stage. But the rain had ended and the road was dry again when Gutierrez, as the last rider out, took to the course.
Gutierrez took over the leader's jersey in last year's race at the last second, when he finished second in the closing time trial. Team CSC's Andre Steensen started the action off under the cloudy skies. Boasson Hagen soon turned in his top time of 5'32.23 , which many expected to hold. But shortly thereafter Lemoine came through a tick faster, at 5'31.98.
About a half an hour later, the heavens opened and the times suddenly became much slower, as the riders weren't willing to take any chances on the wet city course. Philippe Gilbert of Francaise des Jeux put in a time of 6'18, with many riders around the six minute mark. Fortunately the rain didn't last all that long and some quicker times starting coming in again.
For a while none came close to the top times, but as the road dried off and the top riders took to the course, the times starting falling again. Michael Rogers of Columbia turned in a time of 5'35 to give himself fifth place, and Gutierrez, as the last rider to take the course, topped them all with his time of 5'31.09.