Vuelta a España 2009

August 29 - September 20, 2009, Assen, Spain, Road - GT

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer
  1. 15:37:48 CEST

    Buenos dias and harlijke welkom to the Vuelta a Espana in the Netherlands! We kick things off today with a nifty little 4.4km time trial on the GP motorcycle race course in Assen, the Netherlands.

  2. 15:42:24 CEST

    We have four riders in so far, and the best time goes to Frantisek Rabon of Columbia. He covered the circuit in 5:46.

  3. 15:44:08 CEST

    What's the course like? The profile is easy to explain: flat. Not 100 percent flat, but still basically flat. It does have a nice number of curves and turns, and should suit the prologue/short time trial specialists perfectly.

  4. 15:47:27 CEST

    Don't be too surprised if Rabon's mark holds up for a while. He is a time trial specialist and won the Czech national title this year.

  5. 15:50:17 CEST

    Assen is in the Drenthe province of the Netherlands, in the north-eastern corner of the country. The GP circuit here is world-famous, and legend Valentino Rossi won his 100th GP race here this year. The motorcycle course here is so highly-regarded that it is called the “Cathedral”.

  6. 15:52:37 CEST

    Svein Tuft of Garmin-Slipstream is now on the track. He is another upset favourite to win today.

  7. 15:54:26 CEST

    Markel Irizar of Euskaltel has just topped Rabon's time by three seconds, making him our new leader at 5:43.

  8. 15:56:16 CEST

    This is the first time in 12 years that the Vuelta has started outside of Spain, and only the second time ever.

  9. 15:57:49 CEST

    Columbia's Greg Henderson crosses the line in exactly the same time as his teammate Rabon, and slips into third place.

  10. 15:59:18 CEST

    Who is going to take it today? Who else other than Fabian Cancellara, who also won the opener in the Giro this year? At any rate he certainly has to be the top favourite here.

  11. 16:01:00 CEST

    Tuft brought in a good time, but couldn't catch the leader. The Canadian is currently in second place, one second down.

  12. 16:03:20 CEST

    The teams have been out trying out the course here this week. Some photos here:

  13. 16:07:38 CEST

    Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank may well be the first to put on the Vuelta leader's gold jersey. The Swiss time trial specialist is using this race to warm up for the World's next month, which just happen to be in his home country.

  14. 16:10:12 CEST

    Sebastian Chavanel came in eight seconds down, putting him currently in ninth place.

  15. 16:13:51 CEST

    Timothy Gudsell of Francaise des Jeux is very happy to be here today. He started the season off with a dreadful crash in the Tour Down Under, and when he started riding again two months later, he had nerve problems in his left leg. But the New Zealander looks to be healthy again, and raring to go. Read more about him here:

  16. 16:15:58 CEST

    Things are happening fast and furious. Maciej Bodnar has just set a great new best time of 5:39, and Vasili Kiryienka is now second at 5:42.

  17. 16:17:42 CEST

    And just like that, David Herrero of Xacobeo shoves himself into second place.

  18. 16:23:00 CEST

    Marcel Sieberg has moved into sixth place, six seconds behind Bodnar – that's a good time for Columbia's big man. He is 198 cm tall.

  19. 16:26:26 CEST

    Tyler Farrar of Garmin Slipstream is also a top pick for today's win. The 25-year-old is really on a roll right now, having won the Vattenfalls Cyclassics and three stages of the Eneco Tour. You can read more about him at

  20. 16:30:11 CEST

    Jean-Eudes Demaret of Cofidis brings in a nice time, too. He is currently seven seconds behind Bodnar, who continues to lead.

  21. 16:34:28 CEST

    Saxo Bank's youngster Jakob Fuglsang is now in fifth place, four seconds behind Bodnar.

  22. 16:37:13 CEST

    Dutch Professional Continental team Vacansoleil is starting today with black mourning bands on their jerseys. They are in memory of the father of Liuewe Westra, who died earlier this week. Westra decided to go ahead and ride the Vuelta in honour of his father.

  23. 16:40:22 CEST

    It feels like summer is over in this corner of northern Europe. There is a real autumnal feeling in the air, and the forecast for today is sunny with partly cloudy and showers – a little bit of everything is possible. And the high is only supposed to be 16° Celsius.

  24. 16:42:23 CEST

    We have a new leader: Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas. He puts in a time of 5:37, which is two seconds faster than previous leader Bodnar.

  25. 16:46:50 CEST

    Will Kreuziger hold on to his lead until the end? Or who do you think will claim top honours? Have your say in our forum:

  26. 16:49:27 CEST

    So which teams are riding here? We have a whopping 22 teams, 17 ProTour teams and five Professional Continental teams. Katusha is the only ProTour team missing. From the PC side we have Andalucia Cajasur, Cervelo TestTeam, Contentpolis Ampo, Vacansoliel and Xacobeo Galicia.

  27. 16:53:00 CEST

    Just about everyone sees Cancellara as the favourite here today – except for maybe himself. He is planning to peak for the World Championships next month in Mendrisio, Switzerland, and says, “This prologue is too early for me. There are plenty of other riders who are in better shape."

  28. 16:57:36 CEST

    With the first three stages starting in the Netherlands, you can bet that the Dutch riders are especially motivated to do well. There are 12 Dutch riders in the Vuelta: Rabobank has six, Vacansoliel four. Martijn Maaskant of Garmin-Slipstream and Karsten Kroon of Saxo Bank round out the dozen.

  29. 17:02:00 CEST

    The “Comeback Kid” at this race has to be Alexander Vinokourov. He is back in action after serving his suspension for blood-doping at the 2007 Tour de France. How will he do here? You know he'd love to win the whole thing, but he'll be happy with a stage or two, he says here:

    He goes off at 18:30.

  30. 17:05:11 CEST

    The expected rain has now started falling. Too early to tell whether it will affect the race.

  31. 17:15:41 CEST

    Did we ask whether the rain would affect the race? Yup! Carlos Barredo went down the ramp and down on to the road – not a good way to start out a Grand Tour! And David Millar has had a few skids and scary moments.

  32. 17:18:14 CEST

    Stijn Develoder is underway now on the wet course, carefully weaving his way through an S-curve.

  33. 17:20:19 CEST

    It is not actually raining at the moment, but the course is very wet. And we see lots of nasty clouds still hanging around.

  34. 17:21:56 CEST

    Devolder brings in a very slow time, very nearly six minutes. But it's sure better to be safe than sorry here today.

  35. 17:24:50 CEST

    Millar may have had a few tricky moments, but it was still good enough to put him in third place.

  36. 17:26:05 CEST

    Barredo's crash at the bottom of the starting ramp cost him, as he finished 28 seconds down.

  37. 17:27:58 CEST

    Good crowds were expected today, but they don't seem to have turned out. The stands are nowhere near full.

  38. 17:29:07 CEST

    One rider we are sorry is not here is Jens Voigt of Saxo Bank. After his horrific face-first crash in the Tour de France, it at first looked like he would be out for the season, but you can't keep Jens down. He has bounced right back up, and will be at the start of the Tour of Missouri September 7:

  39. 17:31:30 CEST

    There is a female starter here today, counting down and holding out her fingers to mark the time. And another female is holding the bikes. The tv cameraperson is a man, though.

  40. 17:33:36 CEST

    The rain has stopped and the sun has come out enough to cast shadows. Let's see how long this lasts.

  41. 17:36:45 CEST

    Rabo's Koos Moorenhout is currently underway, and his pedaling cadence is 107/minute.

    One of the Milram riders, in his distinctive “cow-spot” jersey, just took off.

  42. 17:38:41 CEST

    Columbia's ace sprinter Andre Greipel is now out there battling the wet course. He probably is thinking more of a mass sprint finish tomorrow than of doing anything much today.

  43. 17:40:33 CEST

    The riders aren't the only ones who have to get ready for a Grand Tour. There are lost of other people who have lots of equipment to take care of, too. Have a look at some photos of some of the prep work:

  44. 17:43:45 CEST

    This isn't the only race going on, you know. Over in Italy, Katusha's Filippo Pozatto won the Giro del Veneto today. The results:

  45. 17:46:55 CEST

    Kreuziger put in a good time, and the bad weather is his friend. No one is coming particularly close to his time. Will it hold up to the end?

  46. 17:49:05 CEST

    There's another race going on, too, over there in the US of A. The men's national time trial race has started. We will let you know what happens, if they finish before we do. Otherwise, of course, you can find all the results right here on Cyclingnews.

  47. 17:51:37 CEST

    Fränk (Big Brother) Schleck is now on the course.

  48. 17:54:39 CEST

    Ivan Basso is not looking forward to the first week of the Vuelta. He has his eye on the latter stages, he tells us at

  49. 17:56:06 CEST

    It's not a top finish for F. Schleck, as crosses the line in 5:55, putting him in about 62nd place. But time trialing never really was his thing.

  50. 17:58:16 CEST

    Tom Boonen is taking another attempt at a Grand Tour this year, and certainly hopes that he is more successful than at the Tour de France. Actually it would be hard to be less successful than he was there. The Quick Step sprinter has only six wins so far this year (as compared with 15 last year). Unfortunately for him, he has been making more headlines with his non-sporting antics than with his success on the bike in 2009.

  51. 17:59:36 CEST

    Oscar Freire of Rabobank is the centre of attention, as he is accompanied by three cars and a motorcycle. Sometimes it is hard to see the cyclist amongst all those vehicles!

  52. 18:01:06 CEST

    Alessandro Ballan, world champion on the road, is the next to go out on the course.

  53. 18:02:23 CEST

    And Ballan is followed only a minute later by Garmin's Tom Danielson. All the starters are one minute apart, even the last twenty.

  54. 18:04:00 CEST

    Kim Kirchen has sunshine and relatively dry track as he approaches the finish line.

  55. 18:05:31 CEST

    We don't know who will win the overall race title, but we can confidently state that none of the podium riders from last year will repeat the success in 2009. Just in case you forgot, in 2008 Alberto Contador of Astana took the title, with teammate Levi Leipheimer coming in second. Third was Carlos Sastre, then riding for CSC-Saxo Bank. And none of the three is in the race this year.

  56. 18:09:01 CEST

    Danielson doesn't put in as good a time as hoped, not even making the top ten. Liquigas, though, has three riders in the top ten at the moment.

  57. 18:12:08 CEST

    Andy Schleck has now taken to the course and he is riding with a vengeance.

  58. 18:15:01 CEST

    Astana's Chris Horner crosses the finish line in sixth place, as teammate Alexander Vinokourov warms up.

  59. 18:16:22 CEST

    Lars Boom of Rabobank is the next to take off. He would very much like to win here today.

  60. 18:17:48 CEST

    Andy Schleck crosses the finish line with a time of 5:58, making him 99th overall. Like his brother, time trials are not at all his strength.

  61. 18:21:10 CEST

    Liquigas is hot today! Daniele Bennati has just taken over first place with a time of 5:36.

  62. 18:23:58 CEST

    Thre are some big names on the course right now: World time trial champ Bert Grabsch and Tornado Tom (Boonen).

  63. 18:25:39 CEST

    And another new leader! Jens Mouris of Vacansoliel knocks another second off the time. Behind him, Milram's Linus Gerdemann comes in fifth.

  64. 18:26:50 CEST

    Grabsch is now in fifth place, five seconds down. This kind of short TT is not his biggest strength, so that is a very good result for him.

  65. 18:27:39 CEST

    Tornado Tom, anyone? He just whooshed across the finish line in 5:29, as the first to break the 5:30 mark!

  66. 18:29:57 CEST

    Tyler Farrar of Garmin crosses the line in 5:32, as second fastest so far.

  67. 18:30:42 CEST

    Alexander Vinokourov makes his return to the ProTour, as he hits the course.

  68. 18:31:31 CEST

    Last year's Vuelta opened with a team time trial, a very short one of 7 km. Liquigas won it with a time of 8:21 minutes, and Filippo Pozzato was the first across the line, so he put on the gold jersey. And he's not here this year, either.

  69. 18:35:23 CEST

    Cadel Evans is the next to go. There are only four more riders after him: Ivan Basso, Alejandro Valverde, Robert Gesink, and Samuel Sanchez.

  70. 18:36:39 CEST

    A good time for Vinokourov, 5:38.

  71. 18:37:59 CEST

    There are two riders between Vino and Cancellara: Xavier Tondo of Andalucia-C ajasur and Tadej Valjavec of AG2R.

  72. 18:40:28 CEST

    Cancellara may not have felt in good shape for this prologue, but you couldn't tell from his performance. He crosses the line in 5:20, making him our new leader. And Evans comes in in ninth place.

  73. 18:41:17 CEST

    Basso is the next one to head in, but it won't be a podium place for him.

  74. 18:42:02 CEST

    Valverde won't challenge for the final honours today, either.

  75. 18:42:38 CEST

    Two riders to go, Gesink and Sanchez.

  76. 18:43:00 CEST

    Gesink comes in some 24 seconds down. Now it is down to Sanchez.

  77. 18:44:40 CEST

    Sanchez can't challenge the speedy Swiss champion and comes in with a time of over 5:40.

  78. 18:46:10 CEST

    We have a winner! The winner of the first stage and wearer of the gold leader's jersey is Fabian Cancellara of Team Saxo Bank. Second is Quick Step's Tom Boonen, with Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Slipstream rounding out the podium.

  79. 18:48:02 CEST

    Here's the Top Ten:

    1º CANCELLARA Fabian 5:20
    2º BOONEN Tom a 9
    3º FARRAR Tyler a 12
    4º MOURIS Jens a 14
    5º BENNATI Daniele a 16
    6º KREUZIGER Roman a 17
    7º VINOKOUROV Alexander a 18
    8º BASSO Ivan a 18
    9º VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro a 18
    10º BODNAR Maciej a 19

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