Menchov wins Spanish Vuelta opening time trial

GRANADA, Spain -- Russia's Denis Menchov won Saturday's opening stage of the Spanish Vuelta, the last major tour of the European road cycling season.

Menchov, riding for Rabobank, covered the 4.35-mile time trial in and around the southern city of Granada in 9 minutes, 45 seconds -- one second ahead of Belgian rider Rik Verbrugghe from the Quick Step team.

Australia's Bradley McGee, from the Francaise des Jeux team, was
third, three seconds behind the leader.

Last year's winner, Roberto Heras, finished 15 seconds behind
Menchov in seventh place.

Sunday's second stage is a 117.6-mile leg from Granada to

The 21-stage, 2,093.19-mile Tour of Spain, known as "la Vuelta," ranks with the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia among the top three events in the European cycling season.

The Spanish race ends Sept. 18 in Madrid.