Jakob Fuglsang wears leader's jersey

20.08.2011: LEOPARD TREK has won the opening team time trial at the 66th edition of the Vuelta a España. Jakob Fuglsang led four riders across

LEOPARD TREK has won the opening team time trial at the 66th edition of the Vuelta a España. Jakob Fuglsang led four riders across the finish in Benidorm to assume the honor of the first race leader. It is the first time Fuglsang has donned the leader’s jersey at a Grand Tour.


“Our goal today was simply to do a good time trial,” said Fuglsang. “We knew if we did a good time trial we could win. This is a really special moment for the team -- and for me, to pull on the leader’s jersey at the Grand Tour, that’s amazing.


The team benefited from the leadership and experience of Four Time World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara. He called the victory the most beautiful time trial win of his career.


“I have had many time trial wins. This is the most amazing victory. It also the most exciting and surprising,” said Cancellara. “Accomplishing a win like this as a team is really something special.”


LEOPARD TREK was the seventh of 22 teams to take to the starthouse and established an early standard of 16:30. Only Liquigas-Cannondale, the last team to race, came close to challenging for the stage win. While the Italian squad posted the best time at the first intermediate time check, they lost time on the second half of the course and finished four seconds down. HTC-Highroad posted the third-quickest team, nine second back.


“Honestly, I’m stunned,” said Stuart O’Grady as he waited to walk onto the podium with his teammates. “We thought we had done a good time trial, but I didn’t necessarily feel like it was a winning day. We were fast the whole time, that’s for sure. We are really shocked in a good way. This is incredible.”


The team had prepared a plan that included a shared workload of the non-time trial specialists in the first half of the course. The plan was derailed when Davide Viganò and Robert Wagner crashed.


“The plan was to have Wagner and Viganò sit on the wheels for the climb,” said Sports Director Lars Michaelsen, who until today was the only Dane to have donned the leader's jersey at the Vuelta. “We would save them for the descent that followed and the first part of the flat. We had selected [Thomas] Rohregger and [Oliver] Zaugg to really go for it on the climb and then see how long they could stay with the team. We anticipated that our stronger time trialists like Maxime [Monfort], Stuart [O’Grady], Jakob, Benna [Daniele Bennati] and, of course, Fabian [Cancellara] would be able to handle the work in the second half of the stage.”


“After 3.7 kilometers, there is a u-turn, and we had Viganò and Wagner miss the turn. Viganò crashed and Wagner could not avoid running into him,” continued Michaelsen. “There was no harm done to them, but we were only seven from that point. Really, we were almost like only five since we had used up Rohregger and Zaugg on the climbs. We were without Viganò and Wagner on the part where they were to keep up the speed. Even without them, we managed. The guys just had to dig really deep.”


Michaelsen was full of praise for the team that managed to come together for this special victory.


“Everyone prepared well for the day,” said Michaelsen. “The riders previewed the course three times, and everybody did what they had to to earn this victory. The whole team -- the sports directors, the mechanics, the soigneurs, and, of course, the riders --gave 100% to see the team stand on the podium together.”


Michaelson looks forward to defending the jersey. The second stage should see a bunch sprint near the Mediterranean coast. The time bonuses on offer at two intermediate sprints and the finish line will make for an explosive race between La Nucía and Playas de Orihuela.


“We have the responsibility of defending the jersey tomorrow,” said Michaelsen. “It is a responsibility and an honor. We’ll go into the stage with a clear plan and see how things play out during the race.”

 

- Leopard Trek -

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/leopard-trek-jakob-fuglsang-leaders-jersey-vuelta-espana---92319.html

20.08.2011 / MaP

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