Skip to main content

Boonen tops a parade-like day

Image 1 of 38

Tom Boonen captures victory

Tom Boonen captures victory (Image credit: AFP)
Image 2 of 38

The pelton

The pelton (Image credit: AFP)
Image 3 of 38

Kisses for Alberto Contador (Astana)

Kisses for Alberto Contador (Astana) (Image credit: AFP)
Image 4 of 38

Cyril Lemoine (Crédit Agricole) was a proof that there is almost too much sun in Spain.

Cyril Lemoine (Crédit Agricole) was a proof that there is almost too much sun in Spain. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 5 of 38

Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) is having a good time at the Vuelta.

Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) is having a good time at the Vuelta. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 6 of 38

José Luis Rubiera (Astana) rolls to the start

José Luis Rubiera (Astana) rolls to the start (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 7 of 38

José Luis Arrieta (AG2R La Mondiale) held on to the race director's car early on.

José Luis Arrieta (AG2R La Mondiale) held on to the race director's car early on. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 8 of 38

Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) enjoyed the easy rollout and the fact that it was neutralised.

Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) enjoyed the easy rollout and the fact that it was neutralised. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 9 of 38

Tom Boonen and Greg Van Avermaet may already discuss how to get it to a sprint today.

Tom Boonen and Greg Van Avermaet may already discuss how to get it to a sprint today. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 10 of 38

Iñigo Cuesta (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) roll side by side.

Iñigo Cuesta (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) roll side by side. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 11 of 38

Loyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale) is really hoping for a sprint today.

Loyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale) is really hoping for a sprint today. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 12 of 38

Oliver Zaugg will take it easy until the uphill time trial.

Oliver Zaugg will take it easy until the uphill time trial. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 13 of 38

Paolo Bettini was the last to head out but was hoping to be the first to arrive in Zamora.

Paolo Bettini was the last to head out but was hoping to be the first to arrive in Zamora. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 14 of 38

The pelton during stage 16.

The pelton during stage 16. (Image credit: AFP)
Image 15 of 38

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wins in Zamora.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wins in Zamora. (Image credit: AFP)
Image 16 of 38

Bubbly time for winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step)

Bubbly time for winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) (Image credit: AFP)
Image 17 of 38

Tom Boonen captures victory in the final field sprint thanks to a handy leadout by his teammates.

Tom Boonen captures victory in the final field sprint thanks to a handy leadout by his teammates. (Image credit: AFP)
Image 18 of 38

Tom Boonen (Quick Step)

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) (Image credit: AFP)
Image 19 of 38

Alberto Contador (Astana) keeps the gold jersey going into stage 17.

Alberto Contador (Astana) keeps the gold jersey going into stage 17. (Image credit: AFP)
Image 20 of 38

Kisses for Alberto Contador (Astana) who is overall race leader.

Kisses for Alberto Contador (Astana) who is overall race leader. (Image credit: AFP)
Image 21 of 38

World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) leads the peloton.

World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) leads the peloton. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 22 of 38

Race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) rides in the maillot oro.

Race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) rides in the maillot oro. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 23 of 38

Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) rides along in stage 16.

Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) rides along in stage 16. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 24 of 38

Germany's Andreas Klöden (Astana) passes a bottle to teammate Alberto Contador, the race leader.

Germany's Andreas Klöden (Astana) passes a bottle to teammate Alberto Contador, the race leader. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 25 of 38

The riders pass some Spanish ruins.

The riders pass some Spanish ruins. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 26 of 38

A Silence-Lotto rider leads the gruppo.

A Silence-Lotto rider leads the gruppo. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 27 of 38

Spain's beauty

Spain's beauty (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 28 of 38

Peloton passes a castle.

Peloton passes a castle. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 29 of 38

Jesús Rosendo (Andalucía-Cajasur) rides in the two man escape ahead of Walter Pedraza (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Jesús Rosendo (Andalucía-Cajasur) rides in the two man escape ahead of Walter Pedraza (Tinkoff Credit Systems). (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 30 of 38

Walter Pedraza (Tinkoff Credit Systems) follows Jesús Rosendo (Andalucía-Cajasur) in the two-man escape.

Walter Pedraza (Tinkoff Credit Systems) follows Jesús Rosendo (Andalucía-Cajasur) in the two-man escape. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 31 of 38

The long day meant long shadows as the race finished near dinner time.

The long day meant long shadows as the race finished near dinner time. (Image credit: Unipublic)
Image 32 of 38

Race director Victor Cordero

Race director Victor Cordero (Image credit: maillot oro)
Image 33 of 38

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wins stage 16 over Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), r.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wins stage 16 over Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), r. (Image credit: maillot oro)
Image 34 of 38

Belgium's Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wins stage 16 of the Vuelta a España.

Belgium's Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wins stage 16 of the Vuelta a España. (Image credit: maillot oro)
Image 35 of 38

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) having fun on the podium after winning the stage.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) having fun on the podium after winning the stage. (Image credit: maillot oro)
Image 36 of 38

Tom Boonen congratulates Quick Step teammate Paolo Bettini.

Tom Boonen congratulates Quick Step teammate Paolo Bettini. (Image credit: maillot oro)
Image 37 of 38

Stage winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) congratulated by teammate Andrea Tonti, l.

Stage winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) congratulated by teammate Andrea Tonti, l. (Image credit: maillot oro)
Image 38 of 38

Maillot oro Alberto Contador (Astana)

Maillot oro Alberto Contador (Astana) (Image credit: maillot oro)

Contador keeps grip on gold top

Belgian Tom Boonen, 27, of Team Quick Step, won ahead of Italian Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and German Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) in the Vuelta a España's stage 16 to Zamora, a stage marked by low speeds as the riders took a rolling rest day. Spaniard Alberto Contador, 25, easily kept the leader's maillot oro. He leads the race by 1:17 over Team Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer with five days remaining.

"To start with victory on the second day and now, one day before I go home shows that the condition has not decreased, but increased," Boonen said after his win. "I was feeling really, really strong, even in the mountains. It's the third week and everybody is tired and just waiting for Madrid. If you still can win that shows you have a clear head and strong legs."

Quick end to a slow day

The slow speed that marked majority of the warm 186.4-kilometre southerly run in northwest Spain finally climbed when the riders entered the final 20 kilometres of the day, one hour behind schedule. The group caught the escape of the day, Spaniards Jesús Rosendo of Team Andalucía-Cajasur and Walter Pedraza of Team Tinkoff Credit Systems, with seven kilometres remaining.

Boonen's Quick Step team controlled the finale, with World Champion Paolo Bettini leading the train for 2,000 metres. The Italian, training for his third World title, pulled off with 1,800 metres remaining. The other lead-out men kept the pace rolling as their captain kept an eye on his rivals.

Italian Filippo Pozzato sat on Boonen's rear wheel and looked to be the biggest threat. He made his intentions clear when he sent one of his men to mark a late surge by Spain's Juan Antonio Flecha of Team Rabobank in the final four kilometres. He surly wanted to wash the bitterness left in his mouth after yesterday's announcement that Franco Ballerini did not select him to represent Italy in the Worlds.

"Pippo" Pozzato started his move as Boonen's last man, Wouter Weylandt, moved of the front. The 2005 World Champion maintained his sprint on the right side barriers and successfully held off Pozzato on his left.

"I don't understand the decision [to not select him]," Boonen said of his nearest rival not going to the World Championships. "In Italy, the team is selected around one leader. In Belgium we just select the strongest guys."

Haussler, a stage winner in 2005, aimed for his second win of the season. He ended with third over France's Mickaël Delage and Lithuania's Tomas Vaitkus.

Spaniards lead slow train to Zamora

The 16th stage of the Vuelta a España started off with a bang in the form of the category one Alto del Acebo. Almost immediately after starting in Ponferrada, the riders faced the 14.2-kilometre climb. The peloton, sans Damiano Cunego (Lampre) who did not start today, made it over the climb mostly intact. However, it was already evident in that first hour of racing that the day could turn out to be a long one.

The Acebo, topped by France's David Moncoutié of Team Cofidis on his way to winning the mountain's classification, gave way for the downhill and mostly flat run to Zamora. Spaniard Jesús Rosendo of Team Andalucía-Cajasur, who figured in stage two's escape, made a solo bid at kilometre 24. Tinkoff's Spaniard, Walter Pedraza, followed him towards freedom.

Their gap went all the way up to 8:38 at kilometre 53 before the chasing group woke up. It was specifically the work of Bettini that helped get the time to a manageable limit. He had it down under five minutes by kilometre 70.

The gap stayed between four and three minutes for most of the day as the group decide to have an active rest day. It was not until kilometre 125 that it dipped below three minutes. The peloton was determined to have a slow day; 15 kilometres covered in the first hour, 28.3 kilometres in the second and 31.3 kilometres in the third was the speed of cyclo-tourists.

The gap fell down to two minutes in the fourth hour of racing, but the pace was still very slow with Milram and Silence-Lotto at the front of the gruppo. The racing finally looked series with the split at 55 seconds in the final 15 kilometres. The riders covered 33.1 kilometres in the fourth hour and 34 in the fifth.

The duo's lead was cracked; it has 15 seconds under the 10-kilometre banner. The sprinters' men were going near 70 kilometres an hour to put their men into position. Quick Step's worked paid off, but Milram and Silence-Lotto fell short. Milram's Erik Zabel had no men left in the final hustle and finished 11th. Silence-Lotto's Greg Van Avermaet, winner of stage nine, finished 15th.

"The break was really hard," said Pedraza. "It was pretty flat all day. I knew the break wouldn't succeed, but I like to be a protagonist.

"There was a lot of wind. Considering that, we did good work. That may have made the difference. ... The [sprinters'] teams controlled the race very well. The other rider, Jesús Rosendo, and I worked very well together."

"The break was really hard with the headwind," Rosendo added. "We tried to keep the possibilities alive until the end of the stage. It was a difficult stage with a road that went on straight forever."

Contador safe

Contador enjoyed a comfortable, but long day only 24 hours after taking a light spill. Providing he keeps upright, the Vuelta's golden top looks his to keep in Madrid on Sunday. He only needs to manage internal affairs on Saturday's time trial with Leipheimer at 1:17. CSC-Saxo Bank's Carlos Sastre looks too far off at 3:41.

Stage 17 - September 17: Zamora - Valladolid, 148.2km

After 148.2 kilometres stage 17 will finish in Valladolid, which is famous for being the first ever stage finish in the Vuelta. In 1935, the first stage of the first Vuelta went from Madrid to Valladolid. Some past winners include Julián Berrendero, Miguel Poblet (first Spaniard to wear yellow in the Tour), Jean Stablinski, Raymond Poulidor, Sean Kelly, Bernard Hinault, Charly Mottet, Tony Rominger, Erik Zabel and Paolo Bettini. It will be the 34th time that a stage finishes in Valladolid. The town hosts a museum of Christopher Columbus, who died here in 1506.

Latest on Cyclingnews