Tight race in Luxembourg

Flecha plays with the camera in 2006

Flecha plays with the camera in 2006 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha took over the general classification in stage one of the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg following a challenging stage which saw the morning's leader, Jimmy Engoulvent (Crédit Agricole), dropped on a cobbled climb on the final circuit. Flecha, who finished second to Engoulvent in the opening prologue, now leads the overall classification by just fractions of a second over three men - Tiziano Dall'antonia (Ceramica Panaria), Gorik Gardeyn (Unibet.com), and Gregory Rast (Astana).

The 166 kilometre stage from Luxembourg to Mondorf was won by Ceramica Panaria's Maximiliano Richeze who took the bunch sprint, but equally important for the team was Dall'antonia pulling to within fractions of a second of the lead after he picked up a one second time bonus along the course. He trails Flecha by just one tenth of a second. "You have no certainties with such a slim margin," said Rabobank director Erik Dekker, according to www.rabobank.nl. "Not much has changed in the general ranking. With this ranking, no team is going to be up front for four days."

Crédit Agricole's Engoulvent held a five second lead going into the stage, but suffered on the final circuits. "He dropped off on the hill in the second-to-last round. Then he barely managed to get back again. He could not do that again the last time," said Dekker. With the former Tour stage winner in the leader's jersey, the team director expressed his faith that Flecha could hold the lead, saying "He is riding very well at the moment."

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