Bazayev claims soggy win

Bazayev claims soggy win
By Eurosport

02/08/2006 at 15:55Updated

Kazakhstan's Assan Bazayev (Astana) won a rainy first stage of the Tour of Germany, blasting past Italy's Danilo Napolitano (Lampre), who launched the sprint far too early. Discovery's Vladimir Gusev retains the yellow jersey, while Erik Zabel could only

It was the first win for the Alexandre Vinokourov led Kazakh team since losing both Liberty Seguros and Wurth as sponsors and being suspended from the Tour de France for its involvement in the Operation Puerto doping scandal.

The 25-year-old sprinter Bazayev had been set to take part in Astana's TDF campaign before the team was suspended from the race for including several of his implicated team-mates in its start list.

Rain began to pound the peloton with less than 30 kilometres left to ride in the flat 198-km trip from Düsseldorf to Bielefeld on Wednesday.

With just under 20-km left to ride, a two-man break-away by Spain's Antton Luengo (Euskaltel) and Germany's Andreas Matzbacher (Team Vorarlberg) was brought back into the main bunch and a mass sprint was all but definite.

After several aborted attacks by Gerolsteiner riders at the Cat. 3 Steinhagen climb, Milram, Quick Step and Lampre moved to the front of the peloton to setup their respective sprinters.

German veteran Zabel had been hoping for a victory on a stage, which passed by his hometown of Unna, but Napolitano attacked with about 500-km left to ride.

While Zabel could not catch the speedy Italian, Bazayev was left with plenty of time to rocket past both the Lampre sprinter Napolitano and the former Tour de France green jersey at the finish line.

The Kazakh claims his first victory on the UCI Pro Tour, as well as Astana's.

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