After six stages and 706.5 kilometres raced so far, the 2008 Tour of Spain has reached its first rest day today (Friday).

Five riders have worn the gold overall classification leader’s jersey so far – and Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) has been the only rider to wear it for more than one day.

Although they haven’t had someone in the leader’s jersey, the Belgian Quick Step team is equal first on the table of stage wins – Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini have given them a stage apiece so far. Liquigas also have two stages in their name – Bennati’s win on stage four and the opening team time trial.

A total of 167 riders remain in the race – there have been only four withdrawals so far: Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Ricardo Serrano (Tinkoff), Maryan Hary (Cofidis) and Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom). With two withdrawals, Cofidis are now down to seven men.

WHAT LIES AHEAD

Fifteen stages remain in the race, starting with tomorrow’s (Saturday) mountainous stage from Barbastro to Andorra. It’s a tough one too – the longest stage of the race at 233.2km and featuring four categorised climbs, culminating in a hors category mountain top finish at Alto de Naturlandia ? La Rabassa.

By the end of Saturday, the overall classification favourites will have shown their hand, and there will be a new rider wearing the gold jersey.

Our money is on three Spanish riders currently sat in third, fourth and fifth in the overall classification: Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank). Of these three, 2008 Tour de France champion Sastre has the most time to make up, he’s more than a minute behind Valverde. Contador sits between the two.

Contador should be targetting this stage. The 2007 Tour de France winner was excluded from the 2008 Tour when his Astana team failed to make the start list. He’ll be looking for a chance – his second chance after winning the 2008 Giro d’Italia – to take a major tour and this is the stage to set out his stall.

Mountains specialist Sastre will have to ambush the other two to claw back enough time to take the lead and limit his losses – we know he’s capable of doing it because that’s how he won the Tour in July. Whether he has enough energy left in his legs will be decided tomorrow – but he’ll be keen to impress new sponsors Cervelo.

Although he has the best time advantage on GC, Valverde is the weakest climber of the three. If Contador, Sastre and their teams really turn on the gas on the climbs, Valverde is likely to be left behind. Which is perhaps why he’s built up a cushion of time prior to the mountains.

Our daily coverage of the 2008 Tour of Spain continues tomorrow with stage reports, results, photos, analysis and more.

Number of days in the gold jersey

Daniele Bennati 2

Filippo Pozzato 1

Alejandro Valverde 1

Sylvain Chavanel 1

Levi Leipheimer 1

Stage wins by team

Quick Step 2

Liquigas 2

Caisse d’Epargne 1

Astana 1


Tour of Spain 2008

STAGE ONE TTT

30 Aug, Sat Granada – Granada (Parque Tec. Ciencias de la Salud) (TTT) 7.7km

STAGE ONE RESULTS

1. Liquigas (Ita) 7.7km in 08 min 21sec


2. Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa) at 8sec

3. Caisse d’Epargne (Spa) at 9sec

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE

1. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas


2. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas

3. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas at same time.


Tour of Spain 2008

STAGE TWO

31 Aug, Sun, Granada – Jaén 167.3km

STAGE TWO RESULTS

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 176.3km in 4hr 23min 00sec


2. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner at 2secs

3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre at same time.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne


2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas at 13sec

3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas same time at same time.


Tour of Spain 2008

STAGE THREE

1 Sept, Mon, Jaén – Córdoba 168.6km

STAGE THREE RESULTS

1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 168.6km in 4h 25min 24secs


2. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas

3. Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram at same time.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE THREE

1. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas


2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 7secs

3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 10secs


Tour of Spain 2008

STAGE FOUR

2 Sept, Tue, Córdoba – Puertollano 170.3km

STAGE FOUR RESULTS

1. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas 170.3km in 4h 27min 54secs


2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step

3. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at same time.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FOUR

1. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas


2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 22secs

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 48secs


Tour of Spain 2008

STAGE FIVE

3 Sept, Wed, Ciudad Real – Ciudad Real (ITT) 42.5km

STAGE FIVE RESULTS

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 42.5km in 50min 57secs


2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis at 12secs

3. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas at 33secs

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FIVE

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana


2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis at 2secs

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 30secs


Tour of Spain 2008

STAGE SIX

4 Sept, Thu, Ciudad Real – Toledo 150.1km

STAGE SIX RESULTS

1. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step 150.1km in 3h 19min 28secs


2. Philippe Gilbert (Fra) FDJeux

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at same time.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis


2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 10secs

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 26secs


TOUR OF SPAIN 2008

STAGE REPORTS

Stage six: Bettini wins, Chavanel leads

Stage five: time trial win for Leipheimer

Stage four: Bennati takes crash-strewn stage

Stage three: Boonen bounces back

Stage two: Valverde powers into lead

Stage one: Liquigas are surprise winners

NEWS

Tour of Spain on Eurosport (schedule)

Behind the scenes at the Tour of Spain

Tour of Spain – still a week too long?

Tour of Spain kicks off this weekend

PHOTOS

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one