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Contador smokes competition in Basque Country

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Alberto Contador (Astana) really knows

Alberto Contador (Astana) really knows (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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The peloton on one of the many hills of today's stage

The peloton on one of the many hills of today's stage (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a great race and got the mountain jersey

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a great race and got the mountain jersey (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Mayoz was in the escape of the day

Mayoz was in the escape of the day (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Some young fans wait to watch their heros ride.

Some young fans wait to watch their heros ride. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Igor Antón (Euskaltel - Euskadi) has an achilles tendon problem.

Igor Antón (Euskaltel - Euskadi) has an achilles tendon problem. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Karpin Glacia was very active in the opening stage, claiming two podium spots.

Karpin Glacia was very active in the opening stage, claiming two podium spots. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) was ready to put on a show for his home crowed.

Alberto Contador (Astana) was ready to put on a show for his home crowed. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) takes the easy way down.

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) takes the easy way down. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Riders pose for a photo ahead of the opening stage.

Riders pose for a photo ahead of the opening stage. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Local fans cheer on the break away riders.

Local fans cheer on the break away riders. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Saunier Duval-Scott riders pick up a light refreshment on the opening stage.

Saunier Duval-Scott riders pick up a light refreshment on the opening stage. (Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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The peloton on one of the many hills in the first stage.

The peloton on one of the many hills in the first stage. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Astana is presented before stage one.

Astana is presented before stage one. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Paolo Bettini at the sign-in and eager to return to competition.

Paolo Bettini at the sign-in and eager to return to competition. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Contador was in the centre of attention when he rolled to the sign-in.

Contador was in the centre of attention when he rolled to the sign-in. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Cadel Evans is having a good year and is now building up for the Tour.

Cadel Evans is having a good year and is now building up for the Tour. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a great race and secured the climber's jersey.

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a great race and secured the climber's jersey. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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The escape of the day with Martínez and Mayoz

The escape of the day with Martínez and Mayoz (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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A Cofidis rider went down the road, but the move didn't stick.

A Cofidis rider went down the road, but the move didn't stick. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) really knows how to spray the bubbly, after all he just keeps getting more and more practice.

Alberto Contador (Astana) really knows how to spray the bubbly, after all he just keeps getting more and more practice. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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World champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) waits for the race to get underway.

World champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) waits for the race to get underway. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Iban Mayoz (Karpin Galicia) in the combination jersey.

Iban Mayoz (Karpin Galicia) in the combination jersey. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) holds an impressive mountains classification lead after day one.

Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) holds an impressive mountains classification lead after day one. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) is congratulated on the podium.

Alberto Contador (Astana) is congratulated on the podium. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) puts on the leader's jersey at his home ProTour race.

Alberto Contador (Astana) puts on the leader's jersey at his home ProTour race. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) claimed second place.

Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) claimed second place. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) leads in the run to the finish line.

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) leads in the run to the finish line. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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The Caisse d'Epargne crew is presented to the crowed.

The Caisse d'Epargne crew is presented to the crowed. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)
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Marco Pinotti (Team High Road) rides in the convoy.

Marco Pinotti (Team High Road) rides in the convoy. (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)

2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana) has won the hilly first stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco in Legazpi, which was littered with seven categorised mountains. Contador won with a slight gap over compatriot Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin Galicia), while Mosquera's team-mate, David Herrero, led the peloton across the line, eight seconds behind Contador. Contador let his team work to get the break of the day back, while being alert towards the end of the race. He crested the top of the Alto de Deskarga, some six kilometres from the line, in second spot, then used his superiour strength to escape Mosquera.

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel Euskadi) was the most consistent over the category two and three climbs and secured himself the lead in the mountains classification. Iban Mayoz (Karpin Galicia) proved to be the fastest over the metas volantes. Saunier Duval was the best team of the day, with four of its riders among the best 20.

"This is an important win for the team," commented Contador after the finish. "The team worked well. But I won't say that the Vuelta is already decided, everybody can have a bad day. And now, we will have a lot of work for the rest of the week, because the other ones will attack."

Mayoz praised his team-mates, saying that "The team did a great job. Mosquera has showed that he is able to be with Contador. I have won this classification; we were present in the breakaway intents. It really was a good day for us."

How it unfolded

During the night, it had snowed in Legazpi. But when the riders were presented to the public in Legazpi, the sun was out and the temperatures were agreeable, even if on the mountains around the little Basque village the snow was still visible.

The first stage from Legazpi to Legazpi over 137 kilometres was a hilly affair. The 152 riders were motivated to win this stage, and so the first attack was set after eight kilometres by the neo professional Dominik Roels (Milram), but he was not able to reach a big advantage before the peloton chased him down.

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel Euskadi) was the next one to try his luck, and he was more successful. Three kilometres later, Iban Mayoz (Karpin Galicia) and Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis) joined the Basque rider. The first mountain of the day, the Alto de Liernia, was passed by Martínez in front of Mayoz and Buffaz. The gap was already three minutes and seven seconds when the three passed the Alto de Aztiria. Rubén Lobato (Saunier Duval) led the peloton over the Aztiria.

After 40 kilometres of this first stage, the gap was 3'54. But now in the peloton some teams started to work. Astana and Caisse d'Epargne reduced the gap during the next ten kilometres to about three minutes. When Silence-Lotto joined the other teams in their work, the advance of the four riders in front decreased to 2'41.

In the ascent to the Alto de Deskarga (2nd category), Mickael Buffaz was not able to follow the rhythm of his two breakaway partners. Martínez was once more the first to pass the summit of the Alto de Deskarga, ahead of Mayoz and Buffaz, who followed the two others 30 seconds later. The peloton passed 3'08 behind. It began to rain and this made the descent quite dangerous.

In Legazpi Mayoz won the metas volantes classification. Some kilometres later, Buffaz was chased down by the peloton, where now Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Igor Astarloa (Milram) tried to escape.

Martínez was able to also win the following two mountain classifications, the Alto de Liernia and the Alto de Gabiria. It did not stop raining, and current world champion Bettini came close to crashing on the descent of the Alto de Liernia.

Mayoz rolled over all three of the metas volantes in first in today's stage.

In the last ascent to the Alto de Deskarga, Mayoz and Martínez were chased down by the peloton. Mosquera was the first on the summit of this mountain of the second category, followed by Contador. The duo created a gap between themselves and the peloton, where Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) led the chase.

With 700 metres to go, Contador accelerated and Mosquera could not hang on. The Astana rider raised his hands, having delivered yet another win for Astana.

Tomorrow's stage 2 will lead the riders from Legazpi to Erandio, over 153 kilometres and five mountains, four of the third category and one category one climb. The weather preview is not too good, with prediction of rain.

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