Milram's Paul Voss was the surprise winner of the Tour of Catalonia's short, technical prologue in Lloret de Mar on Monday, taking the first professional victory of his career ahead of top specialists Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden. HTC-Columbia's Mark Cavendish turned in a strong performance, finishing seventh, just four seconds back.
Voss's remarkable victory was by a tight margin, just one second ahead of Leipheimer and two up on Klöden, but he had worked hard for it.
The 23-year-old said he was convinced he had made the greatest differences on the dangerous rainsoaked descent mid-way through through the short course long Lloret's seafront, and he calculated his energy well enough to go all out on the pancake flat final 1.5 kilometres.
"I knew the course from last year and that was an advantage," the German added, "but if anybody's surprised at my success, I am."
"I've done a lot of racing this year, starting in Mallorca in February" - with sixth overall in the Tour of West Flanders his best result - "so that has probably helped, but my best form was supposed to be in late April, for the Ardennes Classics."
If Voss's result was surprising, the same can't be said about Mark Cavendish's fine seventh place, a result that confirms his rising form. Without being a specialist, Cavendish has had victories in short prologues in the past in the Tour of Romandie and Tour of Britain and his performance bodes well for the rest of the race.
Cavendish's first opportunity to take a bunch sprint stage win, which would be his first of the season, will come in Tuesday's 182.6 kilometre run from Salt to Banyoles.
Although the first category climb of Els Angels - used regularly on training runs by the huge number of foreign riders living in nearby Gerona - features early on, on paper there's more than enough flat between the climb and the finish for the race to come together again. The leader's jersey, however, may be harder for Cavendish to take: there are no time bonuses either in the sprints or at the finishes in Catalonia this year.
Tour of Catalonia 2010, stage one: Lloret de Mar ITT
1. Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram 3.6km in 4-47
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 1sec
3. Andreas Kloden (Ger) RadioShack at 2secs
4. Dominik Nerz (Ger) Milram at 4secs
5. Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
6. Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quick Step
7. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at same time
8. Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Columbia at 5secs
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r La Mondiale at 6secs
10. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo at same time.
Paul Voss take the stage and race lead
Paul Voss was the surprise winner of the short Catalonia opener
Illness forces Wiggins out of Tour of Catalonia
Tour of Catalonia 2010 preview
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