Green Bullet wrapped in gold
After nine days of hot and mountainous racing, the Vuelta riders will surely enjoy their first rest day. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-IB) is in possession of the first maillot oro of his career as the overall leader and the rest of the overall contenders have sorted themselves into a rough finishing order. Carlos Sastre (CSC), Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) look like the men with the best chance to depose Valverde. John Kenny reviews the first nine stages.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-IB) lost a small amount of time on stage 5, the Vuelta's first mountain stage. However, it looks like he has worked the rustiness out of his legs after his enforced lay-off caused by a broken collar bone sustained at the Tour. His display of power on stage 7 to overhaul Alexandre Vinokourov on the steepest part of the Alto de El Morredero climb underscored his return to form. He'll face a fight all the way to Madrid from Carlos Sastre (CSC), currently sitting in third place, and Vinokourov, as well as some of the dark horses of this Vuelta.
Vinokourov has won the previous two stages prior to the rest day and may be one of the few riders rueing the timing of the rest. His enforced absence from the Tour seems to have done him the power of good.
To read the full Vuelta rest day wrap-up, click here.