Postal team wins team time trial in Spanish Vuelta

Updated: September 4, 2004, 3:02 PM ET
Associated Press

LEON, Spain -- U.S. Postal Service easily won a team time trial Saturday in the opening stage of the Spanish Vuelta, the third and last major tour of the European cycling season.

Lance Armstrong rode for U.S. Postal when he won his sixth straight Tour de France in July, but he is not competing in this race.

The squad covered the 17.2 miles in 30 minutes, 45 seconds at the sprint finish, 31 seconds ahead of German team T-Mobile, led by Paris-Nice winner Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan. Another 25 seconds back in third was Illes Balears-Banesto of Spain. Liberty Seguros, including last year's winner Roberto Heras, finished eighth.

U.S. Postal rider Floyd Landis will wear the yellow jersey during Sunday's second stage -- the tour's longest -- a 128-mile leg from Leon to Burgos.

The 21-stage Vuelta features such riders as Olympic time trial champion Tyler Hamilton, Italian Giro winner Damiano Cunego, world champion Igor Astarloa and former two-time world road champion Oscar Freire. In addition to Armstrong, Iban Mayo, Andreas Kloden and Jan Ullrich are skipping the race.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a cycling fan who lived most of his life in Leon, inaugurated the 59th edition of the race. The Vuelta is the final preparation for the world road cycling championships in October.

The race plans to pay homage to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and will end Sept. 26 in Madrid.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press