Magnus Backstedt

Finally back in racing after battling an injured shoulder for much of the winter, Magnus Backstedt got off to a flying start in his bid to find form for Paris-Roubaix when he placed sixth in the opening time trial of the Tour of Castilla-Leon on Monday.

On a rainy day in the western Spanish city of Zamora, in the 10 kilometre technical time trial Backstedt was a mere nine seconds slower than stage winner Vladmir Karpets (Caisse D?Epargne) and a second faster than the recent winner of the Tour of California, Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel).

With just two days racing in his legs this season in the Tour of Mallorca, followed by an operation to remove a metal plate inserted into his shoulder to help injured tissue and tendons re-form faster, Castilla-Leon is effectively Backstedt?s first event of 2007.

"I'm back!" a delighted Backstedt told CW. "I've been feeling good for the last two weeks, but I had no idea I would be this good."

"It's an awesome result, I'm over the moon."

The Tour of Castilla-Leon is a five stage event, finishing on Friday, with a mountain top finish at Navacerrada on Thursday.

After taking part in the Spanish race, Backstedt goes on to ride the Settimana Bergamesca in Italy, the Circuite de la Sarthe in France and finally Paris-Roubaix. He will not be taking part in Flanders or Ghent-Wevelgem.

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