Vuelta a España 2009

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

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer
  1. 13:29:00 CEST

    Good afternoon and welcome back to the Vuelta. What else do we want to do on a Sunday afternoon but go for a nice ride in the mountains? Well, it may be nice for us, but we doubt the riders see it in quite that light.

    We will start our live report at 14:00 CET.

  2. 13:58:23 CEST

    We are still in the mountains today, even if we don't have quite as many ranked climbs as previously. The first one comes at km 73, the category three Alto de Huelma. Then at the end, we have another double climb, like yesterday. The category two Alto de Los Villares comes at km 144.5, and only three km later they start going up again to the Hors Categorie finale, the Alto Sierra de la Pandera.

    It's a short stage, too, only 157 km.

  3. 33km remaining from 157km

    14:06:25 CEST

    Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoliel was the first to attack today, at km 1. But he was quickly caught. There have been a lot of other attacks by various size groups, but so far none of them has been able to get away.

  4. 14:11:06 CEST

    We are down to only 157 riders now, having lost a total of 41 so far. For the second day in a row, we lost 10 riders yesterday, all of them climbing out during the stage. The biggest names were sprinters Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step).

    Three riders were not at the start today: Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Xavier Tondo of Andalucia, and, we have heard, Ignatus Konovalovas of Cervelo.

  5. 14:14:14 CEST

    This is the race's last mountaintop finish, and possibly one of the last chances for the favourites to attack and put time in on one another. Certainly Cadel Evans will want to make good the time he lost yesterday, and Robert Gesink must be carefully eying those 27 seconds separating him from leader Alejandro Valverde.

  6. 110km remaining from 157km

    14:17:00 CEST

    The next break to form features nine riders: Christian Knees (Milram), Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Adrian Palomares (Contentpolis), Gonzalo Rabanal (Xacobeo), Alan Perez (Euskaltel), Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Xavier Florencio ( Cervelo) and Kevin De Weert (Quick Step).

    It seems to be successful and now has 1:32 over the peloton.

  7. 14:22:14 CEST

    Will this group stay away?  Who will take the stage today?  You can talk about it on our forum at

  8. 14:28:00 CEST

    With so many riders out of the race, some of the teams are starting to feel the pinch. Bbox Bouygues Telecom is hardest hit, with only four riders left to take on the final week. Four teams are three riders down, eight teams are missing two riders, and six teams are down to eight riders. Only four teams still have all their riders in the race: Euskaltel, Caisse d'Epargne, Cofidis and Liquigas.

    That doesn't include the three riders who were DNS this morning.

  9. 106km remaining from 157km

    14:35:18 CEST

    Evidently the race leaders have decided they are happy to let this group go, as its lead has now grown to 4:32.

  10. 103km remaining from 157km

    14:39:54 CEST

    The gap is now up to 6:40, and that is enough for Liquigas, which moves into the lead work of the peloton.

  11. 98km remaining from 157km

    14:42:28 CEST

    The weather could make things interesting today. We are scheduled to have 24° Celsius and partly cloudy at the start, with showers and 19° - 25° Celsius in the middle. The mountaintop finish looks to feature thunderstorms and 13° Celsius – not good.

    And the first raindrops come down as the gap hits 7:40.

  12. 14:45:45 CEST

    Sandy Casar of FdJ is the next to abandon the race.

  13. 14:49:47 CEST

    The “grupetto” finished 39:04 down yesterday, which was actually outside of the time limit. The race jury was gracious enough to let the 54 riders stay in the race, but punished them by deducting 25 points from each one. This was a major punishment for Andre Greipel, who now has only a narrow lead in the point ranking.

  14. 14:52:18 CEST

    Shane Stokes is at the Vuelta for Cyclingnews, and this morning talked to Garmin's Daniel Martin. "I'm going to try and get in the break today. I was working for Tom [Danielson], but he lost time yesterday so that may free things up,” the Irishman said. “At this stage of the race I'm not the best climber, but I'm still pretty good in the mountains so if I get in the break it could work out well."

  15. 14:55:45 CEST

    A puncture caused Cadel Evans to lose over a minute in yesterday's stage, and as you can imagine, he was not happy. “Puncturing at that moment is bad luck, but the imbeciles from Shimano neutral service COULD NOT CHANGE MY WHEEL!,” he wrote on his website. If that wasn't enough, the tv and camera people blocked the road so that his team car couldn't get to him. Still, he managed to remain philosophical, doing his best Scarlett O'Hara imitation by saying, “Tomorrow is a new day...”

  16. 14:58:32 CEST

    Stokes asked Rabobanks's Koos Mourenhout: How are you feeling? "Ask me in 2km," he joked. "The team's plan is to get someone up the road so that they can help Robert Gesink on the final climb."

  17. 92km remaining from 157km

    15:01:06 CEST

    The gap keeps growing, and is now 8:08.

  18. 15:04:30 CEST

    Yesterday wasn't Robert Gesink's best day, even though he managed to stay with the other top favourites and moved up to second place overall. "I was completely cooked in the final kilometres and was on my max,” he said. If he feels better today, DS Erik Breukink says, you can look for him to attack and try to take the lead away from Valverde. More here:

    Gesink told Stokes today, "I'm pretty happy with how yesterday went. If I've got good legs today I'll try to take time out of Valverde before the time trial. If not, we'll target a podium position."

  19. 15:07:54 CEST

    Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) told Stokes this morning, "I'm pretty tired. It's my first Grand Tour. I was feeling okay this morning so maybe I'll have a go at getting in the break."

    And in fact he is in the day's break.

  20. 15:11:26 CEST

    As always, here is our review of who is leading what classification. Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d''d'Epargne is still the overall leader. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) has dropped to fifth place, so now Rabobank's Robert Gesink is second, and Ivan Basso third.

  21. 83km remaining from 157km

    15:13:56 CEST

    The gap is now 9:05.  Liquigas and Caisse d'Epargne are leading the chase.

  22. 15:18:15 CEST

    Andre Greipel (Columbia) continues to lead the points ranking, but because he had 25 points deducted yesterday, he only a narrow lead over second-placed Valverde, 74 points to 68. Gesink is third with 58 points.

  23. 15:20:59 CEST

    David Moncoutie (Cofidis) really piled up the mountain points yesterday and now has 160 points, which gives him the clear lead over David De La Fuente (Fuji) with 83 points and Pieter Weening of Rabobank with 60.

  24. 75km remaining from 157km

    15:22:16 CEST

    Speaking of mountains, the lead group has a 9:44 advantage as it approaches the top of the day's first climb, the category three Alto de Huelma.

  25. 15:27:34 CEST

    Valverde took over the lead in the combination points, narrowly ahead of Gesink, with Evans a more distant third.

  26. 15:29:07 CEST

    Caisse d'Epargne still leads the team rankings, ahead of Astana. Xacobeo-Galicia moved up into third place, overtaking Fuji-Servetto.

  27. 74km remaining from 157km

    15:31:21 CEST

    We have conquered the first mountain of the day, and in this order:

    1.Gonzalo Rabunal (Xacobeo)
    2.Adrian Palomares (Contentpolis)
    3.Bram Tankink (Rabobank)
    4.Xavier Florencio (Cervelo)

  28. 15:32:24 CEST

    Marco Marzano (Lampre) joins the list of those dropping out of the Vuelta.

  29. 15:36:25 CEST

    Ivan Basso has now moved into third place in the Vuelta, and is only 1:02 behind leader Valverde. He feels his condition is improving and looks forward to the stages to come:

  30. 15:41:20 CEST

    Tom Boonen was one of those who dropped out yesterday. According to the team, he is still suffering back problems caused by a crash in the time trial, and didn't want to take any chances.

  31. 57km remaining from 157km

    15:44:23 CEST

    The leaders have passed through the feed zone, and the gap is now at 8:40.

  32. 15:49:40 CEST

    There aren't a lot of sprinters left in the Vuelta, but one of them is Milram's Gerald Ciolek. The youngster, who turns 23 on September 19, told Stokes, "I'd like a stage win between now and Madrid. I'm going all the way to Madrid. We're not sure how many opportunity for sprints there'll be now that a lot of the other sprinters have left and their teams won't be working to set it up. Some of my own teammates have already left too.”

  33. 15:54:31 CEST

    Juan Jose “JuanJo” Cobo of Fuji has now moved up into 11th overall, the best placed on his team. It almost didn't happen though. He fell back on the penultimate climb and broke down on the final ascent, where he was helped along by teammate Fredrik Kessiakof. “I bonked really hard in the last kilometres of Sierra Nevada, and I still haven't figure out why, because I didn't forget about eating and drinking,” he said on the team's website.

  34. 37km remaining from 157km

    16:03:59 CEST

    Not much is happening in the race.  The gap is holding steady at 8:30.

  35. 16:06:00 CEST

    We are back in the largley brown area of Spain, although there is some green around.

  36. 34km remaining from 157km

    16:09:07 CEST

    The road is very wet now in the town where the lead group is.  They are riding fairly slowly and carefully through the city streets.

  37. 16:11:25 CEST

    There was a women's World Cup race in Nürnberg, Germany, today, and the win went to Cervelo's Kirsten Wild ahead of Rochelle Gilmore and Ina Teutenberg. Marianne Vos took the overall World Cup.

  38. 16:16:27 CEST

    It is also wet where the peloton is.  The peloton looks quite large, we doubt that anyone has been dropped.

  39. 16:17:48 CEST

    Kai Reus of Rabobank has crowned his comeback from a serious crash two years ago, after which he lay in an induced coma, to win the second stage of the Tour of Britain in a solo effort. He also took over the general lead in the race. You can read more about it shortly at:

  40. 16:18:32 CEST

    Arnaud Gerard of Cervelo has crashed on a cobbled section.  He is up and getting help with his bike now.

  41. 29km remaining from 157km

    16:19:31 CEST

    The gap is down to 7:50, and the roads are extremely wet.

  42. 28.6km remaining from 157km

    16:20:23 CEST

    Euskaltel is ignoring the wet roads and roaring along through Jaen at the head of the peloton.  It looks to be a bit drier up where the escape group is.

  43. 16:22:34 CEST

    We just had an intermediate sprint, with the points going to De Weert, Florencio and Palmares.

  44. 16:23:13 CEST

    There were several crashes, and they were enough to tear up the peloton.  Looks like they are all coming back together, though.

  45. 16:25:30 CEST

    You can read a few details about Reus' win in Britain at:

  46. 16:26:34 CEST

    It is dry at the moment, but very overcast and dark.

  47. 16:30:08 CEST

    SIx and a half minutes as the lead group hits another intermediate sprint, won again by De Weert.

  48. 16:32:29 CEST

    It's nearly all uphill from here on.  The break group has turned off the main road and started ascending.

  49. 16:34:24 CEST

    Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epargne continue to lead the chase.

  50. 16:35:29 CEST

    The lead group has split.  Cunego is rather surprisingly in the second group, but brings the others up to the leaders.

  51. 16:36:24 CEST

    The nine are still more or less together, but we doubt it will stay that way much longer.

  52. 139km remaining from 157km

    16:37:00 CEST

    The gap has now fallen to 5:39. Rabanal is having trouble staying up with the lead group.

  53. 16:39:02 CEST

    A number of riders are being forced to pull over with punctures.

  54. 16:40:28 CEST

    Liquigas has now moved into the lead of the peloton.

  55. 16:41:32 CEST

    Palomares and Cunego try to get away from their companions.  They have built up a small lead.

  56. 16:42:13 CEST

    Greipel must have yelled "grupetto".  He is at the head of a group at the back of things.

  57. 16:43:25 CEST

    The escape group catches the two leaders, but Palomares keeps trying and is off by himself now.

  58. 16:44:18 CEST

    Tankink is the next to give chase, followed by Cunego.  They catch Palomares and head off as a trio.

  59. 16:46:37 CEST

    The lead group had come together, but Cunego takes off.  Tankink is thje only to give chase.

  60. 13.5km remaining from 157km

    16:48:51 CEST

    Cunego alone in the lead, 4:43 ahead of the peloton.

  61. 16:49:38 CEST

    All the favourites are, of course, together in the large chasing group.

  62. 16:52:01 CEST

    The road is wet for Cunego, and it may be lightly raining.  At least we have been spared the predicted thunderstorm.

  63. 12.5km remaining from 157km

    16:53:15 CEST

    Cunego hits the second mountain ranking of the day, and goes over alone.  He has a very short descent, and then it goes up again.

  64. 16:53:55 CEST

    The Valverde group is now about 50 riders strong.

  65. 16:55:23 CEST

    Unfortunately we don't know how much of a gap Cunego has on his former escape partners.

  66. 16:57:05 CEST

    The road is wet, but it is fairly wide and looks to have a new, nicely smooth surface.

  67. 8km remaining from 157km

    16:58:18 CEST

    The peloton, led by Liquigas, is now 4:30 back.

  68. 16:59:02 CEST

    Cunego has turned off that nice road on to a narrower one to start up the final climb.  The pavement here is much rougher.

  69. 17:00:28 CEST

    When wil we see the expected attacks out of the favourites' group?  We expect to see Basso, Gesik and Evans all try to take some time off of Valverde.

  70. 17:01:00 CEST

    Cunego now has nearly a minute over the former break group, with the peloton 4.30 behind them.

  71. 7km remaining from 157km

    17:01:52 CEST

    Only seven km to go for Cunego.

  72. 17:02:57 CEST

    A Rabo rider leads Gesink to the head of the peloton.  No attack yet, though.

  73. 17:03:40 CEST

    More riders are starting to fall off the back of the Valverde group now.  It is only 20-25 riders.

  74. 17:04:16 CEST

    Cunego hits the 6 km marker, and a slightly flatter section.

  75. 17:05:05 CEST

    The Valverde group keeps getting smaller and smaller.

  76. 17:07:07 CEST

    Danielson struggles to stay with the favourites' group.

  77. 17:08:00 CEST

    Liquigas and Basso lead the field, followed by Evans, Gesink, Sanchez and Valverde.

  78. 4.1km remaining from 157km

    17:08:51 CEST

    Cunego is no doubt happy to once again have a flatter section to ride.

  79. 17:09:19 CEST

    Well, until he hit the 11-to-12 percent gradient section, that is.

  80. 17:10:18 CEST

    Only 10 or so in the Valverde group.  We can't see if Danielson is still there or not.

  81. 3.7km remaining from 157km

    17:10:44 CEST

    13% gradient now for Cunego, but only 3.7 km.

  82. 17:11:24 CEST

    As always, the narrow road is lined with fans, many of whom unfortunately feel the need to stand in the road and not next to it.

  83. 17:12:42 CEST

    It doesn't look as if Danielson is still in the Valverde group.

  84. 17:13:24 CEST

    Basso's helper Szmyd has now fallen out, and Basso is alone.  Valverde has a teammate with him.

  85. 17:13:52 CEST

    Still waiting for attacks.....

  86. 17:15:00 CEST

    Valverde has light problems on the 13% section.  Evans grinds his way at the lead of the group.  He leads a group of four which does not include Valverde.

  87. 17:15:00 CEST

    Gesink,  Mosquera, Basso and Evans are the four together.  Sanchez leads Valverde, and pulls away from the leader.

  88. 17:17:05 CEST

    Sanchez is perhaps 3 seconds behind the Gesink group, with Valverde perhaps another 10 seconds back.

  89. 17:17:52 CEST

    The Gesink group catches the first to fall out of the former escape group, as Sanchez catches them.  Valverde is alone at the 2 km marker.

  90. 17:18:00 CEST

    Mosquer attacks, but Gesink goes with him.

  91. 17:18:00 CEST

    Mosquera has a slight lead over Gesink.  Basso has dropped back slightly.

  92. 17:19:28 CEST

    Mosquera goes on alone, with  Gesink further back. 

  93. 17:20:03 CEST

    Valverde can now see Basso ahead of him.

  94. 17:20:00 CEST

    Valverde has a word with someone running along side of him, no doubt saying, "please stay out of my way".  Or perhaps not so politely.

  95. 156km remaining from 157km

    17:21:00 CEST

    The last km for Cunego.

    Valverde has now nearly caught Evans and Basso.

  96. 17:21:55 CEST

    Valverde passes Basso and looks to be riding well again.

  97. 17:22:24 CEST

    Gesink has caught up with Tankink who was in the break group.

  98. 17:22:48 CEST

    Sanchez has caught Mosquera.

  99. 17:23:00 CEST

    Tankink can't hold up any more and Gesink goes on alone.

  100. 17:23:00 CEST

    Nearly forgotten, Cunego crosses the finish line with his arms held high to take the stage win.

  101. 17:24:10 CEST

    Valverde has nearly cauight Gesink!

  102. 17:25:04 CEST

    They cross the 1 km mark together.  Mosquera and Sanchez are the next who will finish.

  103. 17:26:33 CEST

    Fuglsang was still in there, and finished second, 2:22 down.  Sanchez sprints for third place and the bonus seconds. 

  104. 17:27:00 CEST

    Valverde comes in as fifth, with Gesink sixth, Evans seventh and Basso ninth.

  105. 17:27:36 CEST

    Another time loss today for both Evans and Basso.

  106. 17:29:00 CEST

    Here is the stage finish:

    1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-NGC
    2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank
    3 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
    4 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
    5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
    6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
    7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto

  107. 17:34:30 CEST

    Here is our new GC:

    1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
    2 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
    3 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
    4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas
    5 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
    6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
    7 Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
    8 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-NGC
    9 Juan José Cobo (Spa) Fuji-Servetto
    10 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step

  108. 17:38:28 CEST

    That's all, folks!  For today, at any rate.  We'll be back tomorrow with a flatter stage, so join us then.

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