Caisse D?Epargne took a convincing win in Monday?s opening 15.7 kilometre team time trial stage of the Tour of Catalonia. The Spanish squad?s Vladimir Karpets holds the race lead after crossing the line in first place ahead of 2006 Tour de France runner-up and team-mate Oscar Pereiro.

Riding in near-perfect conditions and a pancake-flat course round the coastal resort of Salou, Karpets and his team-mates clocked the second fastest time of 6-42 at the mid-way checkpoint behind Kazakh squad Astana.

?We didn?t have any time references, just gave it a lot of gas and hoped.? Karpets told CW afterwards. ?It doesn?t matter which Caisse D?Epargne rider is leading, we?re all pretty strong.?

Britain?s Bradley Wiggins and his Cofidis squad came the closest (out of the Brits) to Caisse D?Epargne?s time, finishing just 23 seconds behind. Magnus Backstedt and Liquigas were 26 seconds down, Mark Cavendish and his T-Mobile squad were 40 seconds off the pace, whilst David Millar?s Saunier Duval team came through 54 seconds adrift.

Tomorrow?s 170 kilometre stage two of Catalonia from Salou to Perafort is hilly and has a very complicated run-in, but is one of the only two opportunities Cavendish will have to show his sprinting skills before the race hits the Pyrenees on Thursday.

TOUR OF CATALONIA: STAGE ONE RESULTS
(Salou-Salou)
1 Caisse D?Epargne (Spain) 15.7km in 16-54
2 CSC at 16sec
3 Astana at 17sec
4 Cofidis at 23 sec
5 Liquigas at 26sec
6 Milram at 29sec
7 Credit Agricole at 30sec
8 Gerolsteiner at 31sec
9 Unibet.com at 32sec
10 Bouygues at 34sec

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE
1 Vladimir Karpets (Russia) Caisse D?Epargne 16-54
2 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse D?Epargne
3 Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse D?Epargne
4 Florent Brard (Fra) Caisse D?Epargne
5 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse D?Epargne
6 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse D?Epargne all st
7 Cristian Vandelvelde (USA) CSC at 16sec
8 Stuart O?Grady (Aus) CSC
9 Nicki Sorensen (Den) CSC
10 Inigo Cuesta (Spa) CSC all st
20 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Cofidis at 23sec
83 Mark Cavendish (GB) T-Mobile at 40sec
136 David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at 54sec