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Gallery: Warming the engines for the Vuelta a España start

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Ivan Basso (Liquigas) leads his troops onto the Assen circuit

Ivan Basso (Liquigas) leads his troops onto the Assen circuit (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Liquigas get a feel for the course, just a day before the prologue

Liquigas get a feel for the course, just a day before the prologue (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will head into the Vuelta as one of the favorites for overall victory

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will head into the Vuelta as one of the favorites for overall victory (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Xacobeo-Galicia check out the TT Assen circuit. Their captain, Ezequiel Mosquera, finished fourth overall in last year's race

Xacobeo-Galicia check out the TT Assen circuit. Their captain, Ezequiel Mosquera, finished fourth overall in last year's race (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Liquigas make their way through the red, white and blue of the Assen ripple-strips

Liquigas make their way through the red, white and blue of the Assen ripple-strips (Image credit: Sirotti)
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There was a bit of moisture on the track this morning

There was a bit of moisture on the track this morning (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Even in wet conditions, the banked corners are renowned, in motor racing circles, for their grip

Even in wet conditions, the banked corners are renowned, in motor racing circles, for their grip (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The start on the TT Assen circuit will mark the first time in 12 years that the Vuelta has started outside of Spain

The start on the TT Assen circuit will mark the first time in 12 years that the Vuelta has started outside of Spain (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Iron Maiden were the first band to play a concert at the Assen circuit, they performed here in 2008

Iron Maiden were the first band to play a concert at the Assen circuit, they performed here in 2008 (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The riders are probably not going to quite manage the 168.210 km/h average speed that Valentino Rossi recorded as he took his 100th GP win at the TT Assen in June

The riders are probably not going to quite manage the 168.210 km/h average speed that Valentino Rossi recorded as he took his 100th GP win at the TT Assen in June (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Vuelta start ramp is ready for the off in Assen

The Vuelta start ramp is ready for the off in Assen (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The behind the scenes staff have been busy setting up for the Vuelta prologue

The behind the scenes staff have been busy setting up for the Vuelta prologue (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The finish for the 2009 Vuelta prologue is just about ready to go

The finish for the 2009 Vuelta prologue is just about ready to go (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Expect a sea of orange when the Vuelta kicks off in Assen on Saturday

Expect a sea of orange when the Vuelta kicks off in Assen on Saturday (Image credit: Sirotti)
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A Vacansoleil rider makes his way past the stands in Assen

A Vacansoleil rider makes his way past the stands in Assen (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fast forward 24 hours and the stands will be full for the prologue of the Vuelta

Fast forward 24 hours and the stands will be full for the prologue of the Vuelta (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Liquigas come on the start/finish straight in Assen

Liquigas come on the start/finish straight in Assen (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ah, boys, you know it's not a team time trial, right?

Ah, boys, you know it's not a team time trial, right? (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ivan Basso (Liquigas) enjoys a lighter moment on the track in Assen

Ivan Basso (Liquigas) enjoys a lighter moment on the track in Assen (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) chats to the Liquigas team as he makes his way around the circuit

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) chats to the Liquigas team as he makes his way around the circuit (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Valverde will be hoping for a fast start on Saturday as he launches his bid for a maiden Grand Tour victory at this year's Vuelta

Valverde will be hoping for a fast start on Saturday as he launches his bid for a maiden Grand Tour victory at this year's Vuelta (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) tunes himself into the Assen GP Circuit

Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) tunes himself into the Assen GP Circuit (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) joins his teammates on a lap of the GP circuit that will play host to the Vuelta prologue

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) joins his teammates on a lap of the GP circuit that will play host to the Vuelta prologue (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Vacansoleil scope out the finishing straight in Assen

Vacansoleil scope out the finishing straight in Assen (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Liquigas squad make themselves at home in the pits at Assen

The Liquigas squad make themselves at home in the pits at Assen (Image credit: Sirotti)

With the highly anticipated prologue of the Vuelta a España set to begin on Saturday, the teams took the opportunity on Friday morning to familiarise themselves with the TT Assen circuit.

A veritable cathedral of motorsport, the TT Assen circuit - one of the oldest on the Moto GP World Championship - will play host to the opening of the Spanish Grand Tour, as 198 riders set off on a 4.5km hot lap.

With race organisers busy with final preparations and overall favourites including Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) on course, Fotoreporter Sirotti was there to capture all the action in the Netherlands.

 

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde takes a spin around the TT Assen circuit. He's unlikely to look this relaxed on Saturday evening.

The finishing chute for the Vuelta's prologue in Assen. Expect to see a sea of orange in the stands on Saturday.

Ivan Basso sits amongst his Liquigas teammates in the Assen pits.

The finishing chute for the Vuelta's prologue in Assen. Expect to see a sea of orange in the stands on Saturday.

The TT Assen circuit's corners are renowned for their grip, even in the wet. They might not go quite as quick as the motorised machines, but there will be some fast times laid down on the famed tarmac on Saturday.

Click here for a gallery of images as the Vuelta's contenders take a sighting lap of Assen's Grand Prix circuit.

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