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Postal team wins team time trial in Spanish Vuelta

9/4/2004

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.