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Through the lens: Finishing touches ahead of Vuelta start

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Someone obviously asked Alexandre Vinokourov a thought provoking question during his press conference, like whether he prefers a glass of fino sherry or tinto with his tapas. The Vuelta will be the Kazakh's first major race since returning from suspension.

Someone obviously asked Alexandre Vinokourov a thought provoking question during his press conference, like whether he prefers a glass of fino sherry or tinto with his tapas. The Vuelta will be the Kazakh's first major race since returning from suspension. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Feeling grand: Alexandre Vinokourov enjoyed a little media attention ahead of this Grand Tour return.

Feeling grand: Alexandre Vinokourov enjoyed a little media attention ahead of this Grand Tour return. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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No prizes for guessing which kanata Christian Meier comes from. The Garmin-Slipstream rider proudly displays Canada's maple leaf on his top tube.

No prizes for guessing which kanata Christian Meier comes from. The Garmin-Slipstream rider proudly displays Canada's maple leaf on his top tube. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Caisse d'Epargne's Dani Moreno was checking out his mechanic's handy work, ensuring everything about his ride was up to standard with the International Cycling Union's rule book.

Caisse d'Epargne's Dani Moreno was checking out his mechanic's handy work, ensuring everything about his ride was up to standard with the International Cycling Union's rule book. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Germin-Slipstream's time trial rigs are ready to rock for the opening stage, where British rider David Millar should put in a strong ride.

Germin-Slipstream's time trial rigs are ready to rock for the opening stage, where British rider David Millar should put in a strong ride. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Garmin-Slipstream leaves no stone unturned in its Vuelta preparations, with the team's bus even getting some last-minute attention.

Garmin-Slipstream leaves no stone unturned in its Vuelta preparations, with the team's bus even getting some last-minute attention. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Astana's mechanic ensures everything is sitting just right as he installs some new levers on one of the team's Trek Madones.

Astana's mechanic ensures everything is sitting just right as he installs some new levers on one of the team's Trek Madones. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Vacansoleil's bikes all lined up and ready for the race, although the road bikes won't be seen until Sunday's 202 kilometre stage two.

Vacansoleil's bikes all lined up and ready for the race, although the road bikes won't be seen until Sunday's 202 kilometre stage two. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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(Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Vacansoleil's mechanic kept himself busy fitting the team's new forks, which display a map of España in the nation's colours.

Vacansoleil's mechanic kept himself busy fitting the team's new forks, which display a map of España in the nation's colours. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Vacansoleil had brand new, limited edition forks installed on the team's bikes just days before the race begins.

Vacansoleil had brand new, limited edition forks installed on the team's bikes just days before the race begins. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Guess who's back: Alexandre Vinokourov has had a special saddle printed up for his first Grand Tour since being thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France.

Guess who's back: Alexandre Vinokourov has had a special saddle printed up for his first Grand Tour since being thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Whose turn is it to wash? Okay, so not all of the tasks are glamorous, but hey, someone's got to do it.

Whose turn is it to wash? Okay, so not all of the tasks are glamorous, but hey, someone's got to do it. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)
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Big Belgian Tom Boonen rides with his Quick Step team-mates in the lead-up to tomorrow's Vuelta start. Hopefully Boonen will do something – anything - at the Vuelta, which would be more than he achieved at this year's Tour de France.

Big Belgian Tom Boonen rides with his Quick Step team-mates in the lead-up to tomorrow's Vuelta start. Hopefully Boonen will do something – anything - at the Vuelta, which would be more than he achieved at this year's Tour de France. (Image credit: AFP)
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Rabobank leader Robert Gesink and Bram Tankink cycle in front of the Rabobank team during the preparations around Assen.

Rabobank leader Robert Gesink and Bram Tankink cycle in front of the Rabobank team during the preparations around Assen. (Image credit: AFP)
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Robert Gesink has made a move and gone off the front! Okay, so the Dutch rider was actually taking part in a team training ride, but we're sure he's thinking about a move in the weeks ahead.

Robert Gesink has made a move and gone off the front! Okay, so the Dutch rider was actually taking part in a team training ride, but we're sure he's thinking about a move in the weeks ahead. (Image credit: AFP)

With just days remaining before the final Grand Tour of 2009 - the Vuelta a España – some of the world’s top teams have been busy fine-tuning their riders equipment ahead of tomorrow’s 4.5 kilometre opening time trial in Assen, The Netherlands. With the race starting on his doorstep, the first time it’s started outside Spain in 12 years, Cyclingnews photographer Bert Geerts took a behind-the-scenes look at the last minute preparations for a three-week race.

While riders like Alexandre Vinokourov were busy being grilled by the media, the team mechanics were out washing, cutting and re-building the stallions the competitors will depend upon to survive the three week race. Here's a look at what goes on in the final hours before a Grand Tour.

Caisse d'Epargne's Dani Moreno was checking out his mechanic's handy work, ensuring everything about his ride was up to standard with the International Cycling Union's rule book.

Vacansoleil had brand new, limited edition forks installed on the team's bikes just days before the race begins.