Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Vuelta a España's stage 10 to Murcia. It's a hot and dry day.
The riders are covering a 16-kilometre circuit here in Alicante before the official start of the stage.
Aussie Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank) was the last rider to sign in this morning. He and the other 183 riders were greeted with loud cheers from the fans in Alicante.
Austrian Thomas Rohregger (Milram) did not start this morning.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wears the Vuelta a España's gold jersey today. He's had the jersey nine times in his career, but it's the first time he will ride with it into his hometown of Murcia.
Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) took the race lead at the end of yesterday's stage to Xorret de Catí. He marked race leader Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) over the final climb and sprinted ahead to third place and the eight bonus seconds.
He leads the race by seven seconds over Australia's Evans. Dutchman Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is 36" back in third, Tom Danielson (Garmin) at 51" and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) at 53".
The race has officially started. Anthony Roux (Française des Jeux) launches the first attack of the day.
Today's stage 10 covers 171.2 kilometres, with the Cresta del Gallo coming 11.5 kilometres before the finish. Valverde should keep the overall lead at least until Friday's stage to Alto de Velefique. The stage finishes with a 13.3 kilometres up Velefique.
Rohregger is still recovering from a crash a few stages ago. He has also come down with a bacterial infection, which has given him a fever and dizziness, a Milram spokesman told Cyclingnews.
156km remaining from 162km
Björn Schröder (Milram), Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank), Dominik Roels (Milram), Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis), Francisco José Martínez (Andalucía-Cajasur) and David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia) are on Anthony Roux (Française des Jeux). The main group catches this move.
155km remaining from 162km
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) tries to get free with another group, numbering about 15 riders.
We had a question from a reader on the Grand Tours. The Vuelta a España is the third of three Grand Tours in the season, following the Giro d'Italia (Menchov) and the Tour de France (Contador). Up until 1994, the Vuelta used to be tucked in between the Giro and the Tour.
153km remaining from 162km
Spaniard Oscar Freire (Rabobank) may have helped for the escape of the day. The escape group, 13 riders, establish a lead and Alejandro Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne starts to lead the main group.
10km remaining from 162km
Freire is not in this big escape of 19, but Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) is.
The 19 escapees: Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank), Beñat Intxausti (Fuji-Servetto), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), Adrián Palomares (Contentpolis-Ampo), Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo), Antonio Piedra (Andalucía-Cajasur), David De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto), Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Adam Hansen (Columbia-HTC), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Arnaud Gerard (Française des Jeux), Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Julián Sánchez (Contentpolis-Ampo).
139km remaining from 162km
The advantage of the 19-man group is at two minutes. It is going to be a hard fight for them and for the group behind because today there are some strong side winds.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) is part of this group. Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) is there too. He may be trying to impress Italian national director Franco Ballerini.
Ballerini is at the Vuelta through Friday's stage to observe the Italians and to finalise his nine-man team. He will announce his nine-man team on Monday, September 14.
Tosatto may not have a place in the team, based on early reports.
Cunego, Ballan, Basso and Filippo Pozzato should lead the team. Stefano Garzelli and Luca Paolini will likely be second tier leaders and helpers.
Marzio Bruseghin and Michele Scarponi, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, should be the team's helpers. Giovanni Visconti, winner of Agostoni and Melinda, could be a rider for early escapes, and, according to La Gazzetta, should fill the team's ninth spot.
Have your say in our forum.
132km remaining from 162km
In the town of Aspe, a AG2R and Euskaltel rider have crashed. We will work to get you their names.
The escapees advantage is 2:35 at 30km.
125km remaining from 162km
The first of two intermediate sprints is approaching: Sax (km 56) and Fortuna (km 118.9). The course climbs gradually to Sax, at 480 metres, and then keeps climbing another 200 metres to the feed zone.
The advantage of the 19, with three Contentpolis riders, is 2:30
117km remaining from 162km
The advantage grows for the Vinokourov escape group. Vino started the day 18:13 back on race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).
In this move there are three Contentpolis riders, and two each from Saxo Bank and Fuji.
Escapees: Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Adam Hansen (Columbia-HTC), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Antonio Piedra (Andalucía-Cajasur), Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Julián Sánchez (Contentpolis-Ampo), Adrián Palomares (Contentpolis-Ampo), Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo), Arnaud Gerard (Française des Jeux), David De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto), Beñat Intxausti (Fuji-Servetto), Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step), Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank), Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank)
107km remaining from 162km
Caisse seems to be going a little softer then the 19 men up front. Their advantage has reached near five minutes after the first hour of racing.
The riders covered 46.4km in the first hour.
First and second in 2006: In the 19-man group is Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), winner of the 2006 Vuelta a España. He won the race with 1:12 on second place Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who leads today's main group at five minutes back.
Valverde won one stage in 2006 and led the race for eight days. He took the race lead yesterday and leads by a slim seven-second margin over Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) Dutchman Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is 36" back in third, Tom Danielson (Garmin) at 51" and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) at 53".
Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo) wins the sprint in Sax. Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) and Adrián Palomares (Contentpolis-Ampo) take second and third.
German André Greipel (Columbia-HTC) leads the points classification by 83 points over Belgian Champ Tom Boonen (Quick Step).
92km remaining from 162km
José Antonio López (Andalucía-Cajasur) pulls out of the race at kilometre 66.
The escape's advantage is near seven minutes, 6:57.
We will try to find out why José Antonio López (Andalucía-Cajasur) abandoned. We have seen Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) back at the doctor's car, but we believe it is unrelated.
The Vuelta is now down to 183 riders.
Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) apologised to Robert Gesink (Rabobank) this morning before the stage started. Yesterday the Australia's Evans head-butted Dutchmen Gesink after the race because he believed Gesink blocked him in the finale.
The two shook hands and Evans said, "Sorry, I should not have done that," according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
88km remaining from 162km
The escapees have 7:47 over the Caisse-led group.
74km remaining from 162km
Vacansoleil helps Caisse. It leads the group at 8:15 behind the 19-man escape group of Vinokourov. The race enters the feed zone, 10km before leaving the province of Alicante and entering the province of Murcia.
Colombian Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), 29, is back at the doctor's car. He is one of the 19 escapees.
The doctor has been busy, two kilometres ago he helped Manuel Váquez (Contentpolis-Ampo).
64km remaining from 162km
Vacansoleil brings the escapees' advantage down below eight minutes, to 7:55. The 19-escapees have entered the Murcia Province. Today's stage ends in the province's capital, Murcia.
After 100km, the advantage stays near eight minutes. Could this 19-man group make it to the day's end in Murcia?
It is 30°C in Valverde's hometown of Murcia. There are some clouds in the sky.
55km remaining from 162km
Manuel Váquez (Contentpolis-Ampo) is back at the doctor's car again.
The next sprint is just down the road, in Fortuna, km 118.9.
Caisse is back up near the front of the main group for its rider and race leader, Alejandro Valverde.
48km remaining from 162km
The Spanish Caisse team gets help from Ivan Basso's Liquigas team.
Arnaud Gerard is free of the other 18 escapees, who have 7:35 on Valverde's group.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has the gold jersey and a big watch on his left wrist to match. His team is 7:25 behind the lone leader, Arnaud Gerard (Française des Jeux).
Gerard returns to the main escape group led by Antonio Piedra (Andalucía-Cajasur).
43km remaining from 162km
The escape by Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) seems desperate. He fell out of the overall picture and now is fighting for a stage win. Can Vino come back to the top level and win the 2010 Tour? Will the Tour invite team Astana to its race?
Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), 23, knows about Grand Tours. He won the Prato Nevoso stage in the 2008 Tour de France and the Bologna stage at this year's Giro d'Italia. This is his first year to race the Vuelta.
Kroon is in this this 19-man move. He is joining BMC racing for 2010 and 2011 along with Hincapie, World Champ Boonen, Burghardt. For more on that move and BMC's 2010 plans read Lelangue prepares BMC for 2010 Classics, Grand Tours.
Vacansoleil leads the chase at 7:23 behind the front 19.
A reader asked why are there three Contentpolis riders in this escape? The team is from Murcia.
34km remaining from 162km
Spain's David De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto), 40th at 13:34, is the highest placed rider in this escape group. He was also in yesterday's escape.
He was the most aggressive rider of the 2006 Tour de France.
28km remaining from 162km
There is one categorised climb today. The category two Cresta del Gallo, coming 11.5 kilometres before the finish. The riders will climb from 45m to 370m and then back down to 47m for the finish in Murcia.
This 19-man move should split on the Gallo climb and we will see a group of three to four riding to the finish. Its advantage is 5:05.
26km remaining from 162km
Many riders will be happy the winds are not what they could be here in Murcia. Had there been high winds this stage would be split in 10 groups.
Caisse and Vacansoleil are leading the race, 6:35 behind the leaders. Vacansoleil's highest place rider is Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), 16th at 4:41.
A Caisse rider stops for a front wheel change.
25km remaining from 162km
The 19 men have 6:24 at -25km.
22km remaining from 162km
Basso's Liquigas team is still near the front. Next weekend's stages will decide the race, he said, but warned even a small climb could break the group apart since everyone is tired. Maybe the Cresta del Gallo?
Caisse has a rider in this escape group, Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne). Pérez could be a favourite today for the win, he is from Murcia.
20km remaining from 162km
Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) won the Route du Sud stage three this year. Laurent Jalabert selected him to represent France at the World Championships, September 29, in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
He and the other 18 others have 5:37 at 20 kilometres to race.
18km remaining from 162km
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) and Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo) attack.
17km remaining from 162km
Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) lead the chase.
Some of the riders in the main group take the wrong road around a corner.
16km remaining from 162km
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) and Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo) start the Gallo climb.
Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) leads the 17 other escapees.
15km remaining from 162km
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) attacks his companion. Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo), in a big gear, chases back.
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) is solo on this climb. Remember he won a mountain stage and took the yellow jersey at the 2007 Tour de France.
Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) is accelerating and stringing the others out behind him.
Liquigas' Bennati leads for teammate Basso at the base of the climb.
13km remaining from 162km
Vino attacks and chases solo.
Gerdemann has about 43" on the chasers.
Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) catches and passes Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo). David De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto) chases Vino.
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) leads by 20" on Vino.
13km remaining from 162km
Vino looks back, he is suffering, but so is Gerdemann.
12km remaining from 162km
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) has 13 seconds on the others. Beñat Intxausti (Fuji-Servetto) chases solo, ahead of Vino and the others.
12km remaining from 162km
Intxausti nears Gerdemann.
12km remaining from 162km
Gerdemann goes over the top first, just ahead of the Spaniard.
Liquigas still leads the main group.
Beñat Intxausti (Fuji-Servetto) looks bad on the descent, he nearly goes off a right hand corner, and now it looks like he has a flat tyre.
His day is unfortunately over.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) and Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) lead the chase behind Linus Gerdemann (Milram).
Gerdemann stops. He has a flat tyre? It is a very rough descent.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) lead the race.
Hesjedal, a good mountain bike rider, has to un-clip through a corner to stay upright.
7km remaining from 162km
Seven kilometres to race for the four riders.
A Fuji rider in the main group crashes going through a right corner. An Euskaltel rider has to stop as well.
Vino, Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) rotate in a counter-clockwise motion.
Dane Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) jumps on his wheel. The four are back together.
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) leads the main group on the descent. He is an expert on the descents, and he starts a smaller group.
Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) and Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) ride down the left side of the road, sun on their backs.
3km remaining from 162km
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) has not won since 2007.
Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) tests his companions. Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) counters.
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) chase Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank). They are together, but not for long...
2km remaining from 162km
Vino attacks down the right side of the road. Gerrans marks him.
They have 3:45 on the main group.
All four riders keep looking over their shoulders to see the position of the other escapees.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) attacks.
1km remaining from 162km
Gerrans slowly pulls back Hesjedal., who had to try since he is not a fast sprinter.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) lead...
Vino starts. Gerrans reacts hard and keeps going...
Hesjedal remains on his wheel, but can't pass. Gerrans wins.
Australia's Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) now has one win in each Grand Tour. The main group with Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has two kilometres to race.
Valverde is going to hold on to the leader's gold jersey today. He rides in a group of 25 riders. Has one of the classification favourites missed out on this group?
A Vacansoleil rider leads across the line.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) was just on Gerrans' rear wheel at the line. Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) remained on Hesjedal' wheel. Vino was off to the left, metres back.
Spain's Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) was the loser of the day, he missed the favourites group on the descent. Maybe he was the Fuji rider who crashed on the descent. Either way, he slides down the overall classification.
Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) was 10th overall at the start of the stage.
Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), 29, has had a great season this year, a win in the Giro and the Vuelta. Last month, he won the French one-day Classic GP Plouay.
Thanks for joining us today on our live coverage. Please come back tomorrow for stage 11.
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervélo TestTeam
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Slipstream
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank
4 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
5 Adam Hansen (Aus) Columbia-HTC
6 Francisco Pérez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
7 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank
9 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française des Jeux
10 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
General classification after stage 10
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
3 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
4 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas
6 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-NGC
8 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale
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