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Rest Day Diary

We're just about at the midway point of the '06 Vuelta and so far lots of action but no real surprises.  Alejandro Valverde is the overall leader by a scant 27 seconds and despite a broken collarbone last month in France, he has shown us that he's the best uphill sprinter in the world.  He's never been a great TT'er, but with a total of 61km of ITT's, he might not need to be.  

Alexander Vinokourov (5th on GC) has been very impressive as well, winning 2 stages and with his teammate Andrey Kashechkin in second, they could spoil the young Spaniards party.  
Carlos Sastre sits in 3rd right now marking his time.  He'll need an attack in the Mountains to make up the 44 seconds he needs and he'll need to show better TT form than he did in France to have a chance at the top step.  The first tt may suit his style though.  33K with a cat 3 climb around the midway point.
The Vuelta has always been one of my favorite races because it provides drama right to the end, and the '06 version hasn't dissapointed.  We have Thor leading the points competition, a stage win for Zabel (woo hoo) and some nice action in the mountains.  Week two has a TT, one cat 1 climb on Wednesday, but mostly it's a week for breakaways or sprints. We'll need an easy week.  Week 3 will be epic!!
In Greenville SC local resident George Hincappie defeated Levi Leipheimer by 16 seconds to capture the Stars and Stripes jersey of US Champion.  An exciting race (or at least it read that way), as the US Championship abandonded their longstanding format of the Philly circuit race in June, that usually resulted in a bunch sprint taken by a euro rider racing for a domestic team, or Freddy Rodriguez.  The June version never attracted our top Pro Tour racers since it took away from TDF preparation.  The new schedule may conflict a bit with the Vuelta, however it was nice to see George and Levi battle it out.  
In other news Tom Boonen took the final stage of the Tour of Britain, honing his WC form, while Denmark's Martin Pedersen won the overall.
Jan Ullrich married companion Sara Steinhauser over the weekend in a small ceremony.