March 5, 2008
If you can recall those wild days of the Commonwealth Bank Classic you may recall Brownie taking enthusiastic liberties in the sprint. Well he’s a seasoned European campaigner now… Rabobank sprinter Graeme Brown took his second of this season in the opening stage of the Tour of Murcia on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Australian easily bested Euskaltel-Euskadi fast man Koldo Fernández and 22-year-old Spaniard Aitor Perez (Extremadura-Gruppo Gallardo) on the 197.3 kilometre stage from San Pedro del Pinatar to Lorca. By taking the first stage, he also donned the leader’s jersey.
Rabobank team manager Frans Maassen was pleased with the team’s win after Brown and team-mate Oscar Freire botched the finale of the Clasica de Almeria on Sunday and were denied victory by CSC’s JJ Haedo. “It is a nice revenge for Sunday,” said Maassen, who also was impressed with Brown’s finish on a tough stage. “The course was not as difficult as indicated by the course profile, but it was still extremely tricky. Graeme would not have been able to do this two years ago. Now he knows how to ride up a hill and he is also a master in riding in echelons, which was very useful today because of the hard winds.”
Both Valverde and Contador are in this race, BTW. So expect to see them stay close to the lead.