Valverde wins opening stage after Freire is relegated

Caisse d'Epargne captain claims overall race lead

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) claimed the opening stage of the Tour of the Basque country on Monday afternoon, after the race jury upheld a protest against Oscar Freire (Rabobank) for an irregular sprint.

Freire pulled across the road in the final 200 metres of the stage, forcing Valverde towards the barriers that lined the left-hand side of the home straight. Commissares agreed that Freire had deviated from his line and awarded the stage to Valverde. The decision meant Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise de Jeux) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) were awarded second and third place, respectively.

It was the sixth career stage victory at the Basque Tour for Valverde. He leads the race overall, ahead of Le Mevel and Hesjedal.

Pre-race favourite Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) missed a decisive split in the peloton on the final climb of the day and finished 1:38 behind the stage winner. His hopes of overall victory seemingly over for another year.

Earlier, a five rider breakaway had moved away from the peloton in the first hour of the race and worked to quickly establish what would be a maximum advantage of 5:40. The quintet consisted of Serguei Klimov (Katusha), Christian Meier (Garmin-Transitions), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Gonzalo Rabuñal (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Sergio Carrasco (Andalucía CajaSur).

Smooth Spanish roads kept the pace high, but the introduction of the first of the Tour's many hills created a gradual erosion of the gap to the leaders. Although lower category, the climbs of the Cobaron, Avellaneda, Humaran, Puxtet and Pippin shaved time off the difference between the two groups of riders.

On truly home soil, the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi squad were prominent at the lead of the chase, though Lampre-Farnese Vini, RadioShack, and later Sky, Rabobank and Saxo Bank were also involved in the pace-making.

Ahead, the climbs were taking their told as Pedersen fell away from the front group. The remaining leaders stayed out in front, clinging onto an advantage that began to drop away sharply as it returned to the two minute mark.

On the Putxet, the early breakaway was neutralized, but was immediately replaced with a catalogue of the event's 'big names'. Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) launched their own attack and were joined by shortly afterwards by Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Beñat Intxausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise de Jeux) and Jurgen van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

Having missed the powerhouse break, Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was one of the riders taking responsibility for the chase. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), content in the knowledge his brother had made the split, monitored events from third wheel.

As the race flew downhill towards the finish line, the leaders' advantage hovered around the 20 second mark, favourable conditions making the chase behind difficult for those in the peloton.

But with five kilometres to race the front group began to play cat-and-mouse, breaking their momentum. A re-organisation ensued, but at three-to-go, they chase had made contact, forming a lead peloton of some 30 riders. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) had survived the selection of the stage's final climbs and sat ominously at the front of the group.

Katusha led the sprint out, but Freire leapt quickly from third wheel, with Valverde on his tail. Freire gradually edged his way left across the road, boxing Valverde in and raising the ire of his Caisse d'Epargne rival as the finish line passed. The race jury subsequently relegated Freire and awarded the stage victory to Valverde. 

Full Results
1Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne3:57:58 
2Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
3Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions  
4Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha  
5Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
6Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne  
7Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team Radioshack  
8Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Transitions  
9Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
10Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
11Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radioshack  
12Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
13Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
14Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
15Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team HTC - Columbia  
16Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quick Step  
17Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
18Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank  
19Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia  
20Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step  
21Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
22Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
23Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack  
24Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank  
25Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:01:39 
26Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
27Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha  
28Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
29Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo  
30Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
31Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
32Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step  
33David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
34Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank  
35David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
36Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana  
37Markus Eibegger (Aut) Footon-Servetto  
38Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
39Eros Capecchi (Ita) Footon-Servetto  
40Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank  
41Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha  
42Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia  
43Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
44David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
45Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha  
46Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
47Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française Des Jeux  
48Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram0:02:40 
49Matthias Brandle (Aut) Footon-Servetto  
50Manuel Vazquez Hueso (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
51Marcos Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
52Dominik Nerz (Ger) Team Milram  
53Alexandr Pliuschin (Mda) Team Katusha  
54Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
55Serafin Martinez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
56Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram  
57Jose Alberto Benitez Roman (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
58Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
59David Garcia Da Pena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
60Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram  
61Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
62Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
63Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana  
64Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank  
65Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank  
66Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale  
67Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank  
68Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack  
69Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
70Simone Ponzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
71José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
72Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
73Antonio Piedra Perez (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
74Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
75Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
76Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
77Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
78Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
79Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
80Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne  
81Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Garmin - Transitions  
82Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana  
83Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank  
84Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
85Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-Doimo  
86Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - Columbia  
87Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia  
88Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
89Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
90Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
91Matthew Busche (USA) Team Radioshack0:06:06 
92Iban Mayoz Echeverria (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
93Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step  
94Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Astana  
95Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:06:56 
96Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Radioshack  
97David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Astana  
98Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
99Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux  
100Manuel Calvente Corbas (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
101Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
102Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram  
103Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step  
104David Lelay (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:33 
105Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
106Serguei Klimov (Rus) Team Katusha  
107Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Astana  
108Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale0:09:08 
109Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
110Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
111Juan Javier Estrada Ruiz (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
112Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
113Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
114Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
115Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
116Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
117Christophe Brandt (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
118Biel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
119Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des Jeux  
120Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Liquigas-Doimo  
121Fuyu Li (Chn) Team Radioshack  
122Matthias Russ (Ger) Team Milram  
123Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
124Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
125Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Caisse d'Epargne  
126Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
127Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana  
128Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
129Nicolas Portal (Fra) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
130Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team Radioshack  
131Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram  
132Christian Meier (Can) Garmin - Transitions  
133Charles Wegelius (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
134Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
135Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha  
136Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quick Step  
137Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
138Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia  
139Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank  
140David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
141Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step  
142Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
143Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank0:09:59 
144Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
145Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions  
146Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team HTC - Columbia  
147Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step  
148Davide Vigano (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
149Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
150Sergio Carrasco Garcia (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
151Rodrigo Garcia Rena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
152José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale  
153Artur Gajek (Ger) Team Milram  
154Gonzalo Rabunal Rios (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia0:15:25 
155Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
156Sergey Renev (Kaz) Astana  
157Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:16:17 
158Martin Pedersen (Den) Footon-Servetto  
159Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
General Classification
1Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne3:57:58 
2Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
3Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions  
4Alexandr Kolobnev Russia Team Katusha  
5Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
6Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne  
7Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team Radioshack  
8Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Transitions  
9Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
10Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
11Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radioshack  
12Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
13Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
14Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
15Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team HTC - Columbia  
16Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quick Step  
17Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
18Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank  
19Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia  
20Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step  
21Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
22Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
23Christopher Horner United States Team Radioshack  
24Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank  
25Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:01:39 
26Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
27Eduard Vorganov Russia Team Katusha  
28Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
29Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo  
30Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
31Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
32Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step  
33David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
34Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank  
35David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
36Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana  
37Markus Eibegger (Aut) Footon-Servetto  
38Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
39Eros Capecchi (Ita) Footon-Servetto  
40Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank  
41Evgeny Petrov Russia Team Katusha  
42Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia  
43Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
44David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
45Alexandre Botcharov Russia Team Katusha  
46Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
47Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française Des Jeux  
48Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram0:02:40 
49Matthias Brandle (Aut) Footon-Servetto  
50Manuel Vazquez Hueso (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
51Marcos Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
52Dominik Nerz (Ger) Team Milram  
53Alexandr Pliuschin Moldova Team Katusha  
54Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
55Serafin Martinez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
56Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram  
57Jose Alberto Benitez Roman (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
58Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
59David Garcia Da Pena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
60Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram  
61Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
62Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
63Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana  
64Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank  
65Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank  
66Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale  
67Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank  
68Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack  
69Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
70Simone Ponzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
71José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
72Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
73Antonio Piedra Perez (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
74Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
75Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
76Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
77Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
78Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
79Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
80Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne  
81Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Garmin - Transitions  
82Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana  
83Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank  
84Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
85Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-Doimo  
86Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - Columbia  
87Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia  
88Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
89Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
90Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
91Matthew Busche United States Team Radioshack0:06:06 
92Iban Mayoz Echeverria (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
93Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step  
94Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Astana  
95Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:06:56 
96Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Radioshack  
97David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Astana  
98Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
99Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux  
100Manuel Calvente Corbas (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
101Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
102Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram  
103Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step  
104David Lelay (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:33 
105Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
106Serguei Klimov Russia Team Katusha  
107Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Astana  
108Alexander Efimkin Russia AG2R La Mondiale0:09:08 
109Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
110Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
111Juan Javier Estrada Ruiz (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
112Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
113Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
114Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
115Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
116Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
117Christophe Brandt (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
118Biel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
119Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des Jeux  
120Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Liquigas-Doimo  
121Fuyu Li China Team Radioshack  
122Matthias Russ (Ger) Team Milram  
123Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
124Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
125Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Caisse d'Epargne  
126Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
127Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana  
128Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
129Nicolas Portal (Fra) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
130Ivan Rovny Russia Team Radioshack  
131Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram  
132Christian Meier (Can) Garmin - Transitions  
133Charles Wegelius (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
134Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
135Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha  
136Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quick Step  
137Thomas Peterson United States Garmin - Transitions  
138Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia  
139Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank  
140David Zabriskie United States Garmin - Transitions  
141Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step  
142Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
143Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank0:09:59 
144Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
145Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions  
146Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team HTC - Columbia  
147Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step  
148Davide Vigano (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
149Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
150Sergio Carrasco Garcia (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
151Rodrigo Garcia Rena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
152José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale  
153Artur Gajek (Ger) Team Milram  
154Gonzalo Rabunal Rios (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia0:15:25 
155Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
156Sergey Renev (Kaz) Astana  
157Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:16:17 
158Martin Pedersen (Den) Footon-Servetto  
159Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
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