Vuelta a España 2009

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

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

Comments for the commentator? Visit our forum to leave feedback.

  1. 13:44:42 CEST

    Hello and welcome back to the Vuelta a Espana! We all had a nice long siesta on the rest day yesterday and we are now ready to heat up into the mountains. We are, at any rate. We don't know whether the riders are!

  2. 13:49:32 CEST

    Today is the first of three mountain stages in a row. We go 179 km from Almeria to the top of Velefique. There are four climbs along the way. Well, actually only three climbs, but one of them is so neat that the peloton will be going over it twice, once at km 56 and then again at the very end – yup, a mountaintop finish!

  3. 130km remaining from 174km

    13:50:54 CEST

    Here's where we are right now: An escape group formed at km 29, and took off. The group with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin), Javier Ramirez (Andalucia), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), David Garcia (Xacobeo), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Bingen Fernandez (Cofidis), Borut Bozic (Vacansoliel), Julien El Fares (Cofidis), Julian Sanchez (Contentpolis), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank) have now turned that into a lead of over seven minutes.

    Arkaitz Duran (Fuji) has been giving chase the whole time and is now only 26 seconds back.

    They are on their way up the first climb of the day.

  4. 13:56:43 CEST

    A number of riders decided to take off for home on the second rest day and not face the mountains. Among them were Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream) and Linus Gerdemann (Milram). The German is still suffering from the aftereffects of his crash in stage 10, a team spokesman told Cyclingnews.

  5. 127km remaining from 174km

    14:02:03 CEST

    Duran has now caught the group on the ascent. David Garcia punctured, but was able to catch the group again. The gap is now down to 6:40.

  6. 14:06:08 CEST

    Also not starting today were Marco Marcato (Vacansoliel), Vitaliy Buts (Lampre) and Alberto Fernandez (Xacobeo). That leaves us with 175 in the race now.

  7. 14:13:06 CEST

    The first (and third) climb is the Velefique, a Category One climb. It offers a 13.3 km long climb with an average gradient of 7.5% and a maximum of 13%

  8. 14:20:57 CEST

    Weather! Yes, we will have weather today. It will go from sunny to cloudy and from hot to cold. How's that for variety? We can expect up to 27° Celsius in the hottest areas (valleys) and down to 13°Celsius at the mountaintops.

  9. 120km remaining from 174km

    14:24:02 CEST

    Just before the top of the climb, Bozic attacks out of the group.

  10. 119km remaining from 174km

    14:26:27 CEST

    That was a short attack:  Bozic is already caught again.

  11. 118km remaining from 174km

    14:32:18 CEST

    This is how they went over the climb: Fernandez ahead of Bozic and Sanchez. And so we bid a fond farewell to the Velefique – NOT! We'll be back here in a couple of hours.

  12. 115km remaining from 174km

    14:35:12 CEST

    The lead group is going down the mountain now, and has pushed their lead back up to 7:10.

  13. 104km remaining from 174km

    14:43:23 CEST

    We have passed the first intermediate sprint of the day. Bozic took the points ahead of Garcia and Vinokourov.

  14. 14:49:29 CEST

    Seven teams are still in the race with all their starters. Eight teams have lost one rider apiece, and six teams are two riders down. Hardest hit is Bbox Bouygues Telecom, which now has only six riders left in the race.

  15. 14:55:47 CEST

    They don't expect any rain here today. In fact, they rarely expect any rain here. This is the driest region in all of Europe, averaging 330 days a year without rain.

  16. 90km remaining from 174km

    15:01:03 CEST

    The break group is approaching lunchtime – the feeding zone, that is – with a 6:50 lead.

  17. 15:06:58 CEST

    Alejandro Valverde is determined to win the Vuelta this year, for the very first time. He has twice finished third and was second in 2006. He thinks the race will be decided in these mountain stages:

  18. 91km remaining from 174km

    15:10:22 CEST

    The gap is now 7:36.

  19. 15:15:47 CEST

    Let's refresh our memories as to who is leading what classification in the race. Overall leader, in the gold jersey, is still Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne),with Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) seven seconds back and Rabobank's Robert Gesink third at 36 seconds.

  20. 93.2km remaining from 174km

    15:16:40 CEST

    The peloton has moved into the feed zone, and that alllows the gap to move up to 8:14.

  21. 15:22:18 CEST

    Andre Greipel of Columbia leads the points ranking, with 99. Second had been Tyler Farrar (Garmin) with 92 points, followed by Tom Boonen (Quick Step) with 75.

  22. 95.2km remaining from 174km

    15:24:00 CEST

    Rabobank has moved up to help lead the peloton chase the large group which has an 8:14 lead.

     Looking at Simon Gerrans' kit, we suspect he hit the ground at some point during this stage.

  23. 77.4km remaining from 174km

    15:26:57 CEST

    Vinokourov has fallen back out of the lead group. He is finding his comeback to be perhaps a bit more difficult than expected.

    His former breakaway mates are now on their way up the second climb of the day.

  24. 15:29:09 CEST

    We go up in the big mountains this weekend, so we might well see a change in the rankings for the best climber. Right now the jersey belongs to David Moncoutie of Cofidis (86 points) ahead of David De La Fuente (Fuji, 72 points).

  25. 15:32:42 CEST

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) is atop the combination classification, followed by Valverde and Damiano Cuenego (Lampre).

  26. 15:35:10 CEST

    The second climb, at km 122, is another Category One, the Alto de Calar Alto. It is a 26.7 km climb with an average gradient of 4.4% and a max of 10%.

  27. 15:39:38 CEST

    Paul Martens of Rabobank has now left the race.  The German rider has been suffering from a bronchial infection.

  28. 73km remaining from 174km

    15:44:38 CEST

    The top-ranked team belongs to the top-ranked rider: Caisse d'Epargne. They are 4:53 ahead of Astana, with Fuji third at 7:16.

    And that top-ranked team is the one leading the peloton right now.

  29. 15:46:14 CEST

    O'Grady and Freire are sitting at the back of the lead group, not taking turns to lead. They are letting those with younger legs do all that hard work.

  30. 15:49:25 CEST

    A couple of days ago three-time former World Champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank said that he would retire at the end of the 2010 season when his current contract expires, as you can read here:

    Now, however, he seems to be changing his mind. Interviewed on the team's website, he said, “Hmmm, maybe not. I'm not sure about. It could, but my mind is really not definitely made up.”

  31. 15:53:56 CEST

    Matteo Carrara of Vacansoliel has obviously gone down at some point today. He has quite a nice hole in his britches.

  32. 15:58:35 CEST

    Vinokourov has been caught by the peloton and dropped by the peloton. That's how easy it is go from the very front of the race to the very back....

  33. 16:01:39 CEST

    Dan Martin of Garmin-Slipstream is in his first Grand Tour, and quite enjoying his adventure. As one of the team's climbing aces, his expertise will be requested the next few days, and the young Irishman is up to the challenge, he tells us at

  34. 16:04:38 CEST

    The gap is falling slightly, down now to 6:52.

  35. 16:08:28 CEST

    The gap is falling steadily now, down to 6:25, as Caisse d'Epargne continues to grind away at the head of the peloton.

  36. 16:14:49 CEST

    Mori of Lampre and Milram's Ciolek are back among the team cars. Most likely they have been dropped on the climb.

  37. 16:16:12 CEST

    We have another abandon today: Francesco Tomei of Lampre.

  38. 16:20:33 CEST

    Several riders sprinted for the mountain ranking and are keeping on going. We will try to get their names for you.

  39. 16:21:11 CEST

    It is Ramirez and Sanchez who have attacked.

  40. 16:22:33 CEST

    Le Fares also jumped, and is in fact at the very head of things now.

  41. 16:23:55 CEST

    It is a pretty steep descent, with all the usual turns and twists, but fortunately the road is relatively wide and looks like it has a good pavement.

  42. 16:24:43 CEST

    The peloton hits the top of the mountain exactly 6:33 after the first rider to go over.

  43. 16:27:55 CEST

    The field is flying down this mountain in single file.

  44. 16:29:10 CEST

    The lead group has fallen into several smaller groups on the descent, but it is hard to tell who is where at the moment.

  45. 131.4km remaining from 174km

    16:31:00 CEST

    It looks like the lead group is back together again, and still has a gap of 6:36. And there are still two more mountains to climb.

  46. 16:33:45 CEST

    The break group has hit bottom.  Well, so to speak -- we could also say that they have finished the descent.  Freire celebrates by dropping back to his team car for a moment.

  47. 16:36:43 CEST

    We are in the Province of Andalusia, and what does one eat here? Gazpacho! That wonder cold vegetable soup made of tomato, cucumber, pepper, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Yum, now we are getting hungry

  48. 38.8km remaining from 174km

    16:40:09 CEST

    Caisse d'Epargne continues to work hard for its captain, overall race leader Valverde.

  49. 16:41:16 CEST

    Riders are starting to fall off the back of the peloton.  This is a particularly up-and-down sort of section at the moment.

  50. 36.4km remaining from 174km

    16:42:47 CEST

    The gap is now down below six minutes, down to 5:46.

  51. 16:47:59 CEST

    Bram Tankink falls back to the team car and delivers a load of dirty laundry. Well, it looks like vests that the riders no longer want to wear.

  52. 16:49:34 CEST

    Carrara of Vaconsoliel jumps out of the head group in order to get the sprint points at the next intermediate sprint.

  53. 16:52:13 CEST

    Philip Deignan of Cervelo TestTeam is in his second Grand Tour of the year, having also ridden the Giro d'Italia. “I think this Vuelta is going to be interesting, to try to go flat out for three weeks and see what happens,” the Irishman said. “I’ve done three grand tours so far in my career. I’ve always seem to have a really bad day or two, so I am not sure if I am up to that standard. I think it’s a learning curve. It takes a few tours to see what your body can withstand.”

  54. 16:53:16 CEST

    Everyone is now working their way up the third climb of the day, the Alto de Filibres.

  55. 31.5km remaining from 174km

    16:55:00 CEST

    The gap continues to come down and is now 5:11.

  56. 29km remaining from 174km

    16:58:57 CEST

    The gap is now under 5 minutes for the first time in a long time.

  57. 17:01:56 CEST

    The break group has crested the top of the third climb.  The gap is now about four and a half minutes.

  58. 17:06:23 CEST

    Caisse d'Epargne has a secondary feeding station on the climb here, and the hard workers pick up a bag of goodies.

  59. 17:08:31 CEST

    Michael Schäre of Astana has crashed, but is back up and going with no major damage.

  60. 17:11:21 CEST

    Damiano Cunego's win in last Sunday's Vuelta stage to the Alto de Aitana was big confidence-booster. "It came at the right time. More so for me, my confidence, but also for the Italian team ahead of the World Championships. It gives 100 percent security that I will be one of the Italian leaders," Cunego (Team Lampre-NGC) told Cyclingnews. More here:

  61. 17:13:00 CEST

    The peloton flies along here in single file.

  62. 156km remaining from 174km

    17:14:00 CEST

    Xacobeo's Garcia has jumped out of the leading group. He goes through a sprint ranking and keeps on going.

  63. 17:16:19 CEST

    Garcia continues on in the lead.

  64. 17:18:29 CEST

    The UCI has just announced that it has suspended Manuel Beltran for two years after his positive test for EPO from last year.  We will have more on this story on Cyclngnews shortly.

  65. 17:20:31 CEST

    Garcia's lead is said to be about 15 seconds.

  66. 12.9km remaining from 174km

    17:23:43 CEST

    Garcia and the break group are now on their way up the final climb.

  67. 17:24:48 CEST

    Velefique is making its third appearance in the Vuelta, with the first visit being only in 2004,

  68. 17:25:23 CEST

    Numerous attacks out of the break group, but they are unwilling to let anyone else get away.

  69. 17:26:48 CEST

    There are a lot of Columbia riders at the very back of the peloton now.

    Garcia has 46 seconds on the break group, and the peloton is 3:40 back.

  70. 17:28:10 CEST

    Fabian Cancellara leads a group behind the peloton, taking the final climb at a more leisurely pace.

  71. 17:28:48 CEST

    Rabobank moves to the front of the peloton, hoping to set something up for Robert Gesink.

  72. 17:29:46 CEST

    The lead group has fallen apart and it looks like a number of riders will soon catch Garcia.

  73. 17:31:03 CEST

    Hesjedal, O'Grady and Sanchez are those giving chase to Garcia.

  74. 17:32:59 CEST

    Garcia is now 30 seconds ahead of his chasers, with the peloton 3:29 back.

  75. 17:33:00 CEST

    Samuel Sanchez and Ivan Basso ride up the mountain next to each other, as do Robert Gesink and Tom Danielson.

  76. 17:36:00 CEST

    The peloton has dwindled dramatically, it is now only about 40 men.  They catch Bozic who has dropped back from the lead group.

  77. 17:39:27 CEST

    The first attack attempts out of the favourites' group -- but they aren't letting anyone go.

  78. 17:40:20 CEST

    Valverde is nearer the midddle of his group than to the front.  The group has split again and is now down to 20 or so.

  79. 17:41:34 CEST

    No real surprise here:  Vinokourov has abandoned the race.  As has his teammate Rubiera.

  80. 6.6km remaining from 174km

    17:42:36 CEST

    Garcia has a three minute lead over the favourites' group.

  81. 17:43:37 CEST

    The ever smaller favourites'  group is now catching and passing those from the former escape group.

  82. 5.8km remaining from 174km

    17:44:43 CEST

    Hesjedal is the closest one to Garcia, (which isn't all that close), and Sanchez is quite a ways behind him.

  83. 17:45:09 CEST

    Oops, we were wrong.  Hesjedal has now caught Garcia.

  84. 17:46:49 CEST

    Cunego attacks out of the Valverde group.

  85. 17:48:00 CEST

    Cunego and a Caisse d'Epargne rider have a small lead over the favourites. But no longer, they are caught.

  86. 17:48:37 CEST

    Duran is the next to attack.  Are we the only ones who have music running through our heads when we see his name?

  87. 17:49:46 CEST

    We once again have a group of 11 -- but this time is the group of favourites.

  88. 17:50:24 CEST

    Oh bother, it is Mosquera and not Duran.  Cancel that music.

  89. 4km remaining from 174km

    17:51:35 CEST


    David Garcia (Xacobeo) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin)
    Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 1:40
    Valverde group at 1:50

  90. 4km remaining from 174km

    17:51:57 CEST

    Mosquera is trying to get up to the two leaders.

  91. 17:52:54 CEST

    Mosquera looks forward and back:  where are the others?

  92. 17:53:39 CEST

    Garcia and Hesjedal have a lead of a bit more than a minute over Mosquera, who is 20 seconds ahead of the Valverde group.

  93. 3km remaining from 174km

    17:54:31 CEST

    Hesjedal tries to take off, but Garcia comes with him.

  94. 3km remaining from 174km

    17:54:36 CEST


    David Garcia (Xacobeo) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin)
    Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 53"
    Valverde group at 1:10

  95. 17:55:05 CEST

    They are all climbing up a long seemingly endless series of hairpin curves up this mountain.

  96. 17:55:00 CEST

    46 seconds between the leaders and Mosquera, but only 13 seconds back to the Valverde group.

  97. 2km remaining from 174km

    17:56:20 CEST

    Only two km for the two leaders.  Will one of them try to get away from the other?

  98. 17:56:57 CEST

    37 seconds back to Mosquera, and the field some 12 seconds more.

  99. 2km remaining from 174km

    17:57:32 CEST


    David Garcia (Xacobeo) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin)
    Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 37"
    Valverde group at 43"

  100. 17:58:00 CEST

    Gesink attacks out of the field, and the remaining seven in the group give chase.  But the tall Dutchman has a few seconds lead.

    Last km for Hesjedal and Garcia.

  101. 17:59:07 CEST

    Gesink has caught and passed Mosquera at the 1 km marker.

  102. 17:59:46 CEST

    Gesink goes all out.  He is 17 seconds behind the two leaders, and the field is 14 seconds behind him.

  103. 1km remaining from 174km

    17:59:56 CEST


    David Garcia (Xacobeo) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin)
    Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 22"
    Valverde group at 36"

  104. 18:00:00 CEST

    As always, lots of people along the road, cheering them on.

  105. 18:01:00 CEST

    Gesink and Mosquera come close, but they can't catch the leaders.

  106. 18:01:48 CEST

    Hesjedal sprints for the win ahead of  Garcia.  Gesink is third, and Mosquera fourth.

  107. 18:03:20 CEST

    Another stage win for the US team of Garmin-Slipstream!

  108. 18:04:47 CEST

    Gesink and Mosquera finished six seconds behind the winner, with Cunego leading the Valverde group over the finish line 16 seconds down.

  109. 18:05:31 CEST

    No change at the top of the leader board, but Gesink has managed to chip away at his deficit to leader Valverde.

  110. 18:06:39 CEST

    That was it for the first of three big mountain stages.  Join us again tomorrow for some more climbing, and thanks for reading along today.

  111. 18:08:58 CEST

    Valverde still the leader

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