All hail César in Xorret de Cati

Gustavo César of Xacobeo-Galicia joined an escape group after just three kilometres and stayed away to the very end. The Spaniard gave his nation its first stage win of this year's Vuelta a Espana, in the second mountain stage of the race. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) sprinted out of the chasing group of favourites to take third place on the stage, 40 seconds behind the winner. Marco Manzano of Lampre finished second, 21 seconds down.

Valverde's final sprint was also enough to give him the bonus seconds necessary to pass Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) for the overall lead. He is now seven seconds ahead of Evans, with Rabobank's Robert Gesink in third, 36 seconds behind the leader.

César was part of an escape group which formed only three kilometres into the stage. For most of the day it looked like the group would stay away to the end, but the final climb ripped both the escape group and the chasers to shreds. César and Manzano were the only members of the early break who managed to stay away at the end, with Davide De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto) finishing with the top favourites.

There appeared to be some controversy at the end. De La Fuente looked to be a lock-in for third, but seemed to wait and allow his countryman Valverde to take third – and those necessary bonus seconds. Shortly before Valverde sprinted out of the chase group, Gesink moved close to Evans, with the Australian appearing to argue afterwards that he was pushed into the barriers and hindered.  Some reports say that Evans retaliated with a headbutt to the young Dutchman.

Ivan Basso of Liquigas was also in that group, losing no time today. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream), Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Ezequiel Mosquera (Euskaltel) all finished about half a minute behind the Valverde group, with Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) coming in about 17 seconds later.

"I'm very happy," Valverde said after the stage. He was pleased both to have taken over the lead and to be heading into his homeland of Murcia tomorrow in the gold jersey.

He decided to attack in the finale because “tensions were high” and his teammate Vasili Kiryienka reported that “some of the favourites were having difficulties.” With that in mind he sprinted out of the group to take third place, the bonus seconds and the lead. “I did not get the gold jersey by chance, we knew I could get it.”

Cesar called his first Vuelta stage win the most important of his nine-year career. “This is very big.” His experience played a big role in the success, he noted.

The 29-year-old had a bad start to the season with a serious crash, but noted, “The crashes are part of the job, and the bad times pass. When times are good, then they are even better.”

Cesar didn't want to rest on his laurels, though. “The team's goals are not yet 100 percent met, because we still have to fight for Ezequiel Mosquera in the overall ranking.”

How it unfolded

Perhaps the riders were afraid of another mountain stage in the high heat, as the day's break group formed almost immediately. The first riders got off after only three km, and by km 32 it had stabilised itself into a seven-man group. Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Marco Mazano (Lampre-NGC), David de la Fuente (Fuji-Servetto), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Julian Sanchez (Contentpolis-Ampo), Gustavo César (Xacobeo Galacia) and Javier Ramirez (Andalucia Cajasur) built up a lead of just over seven minutes.

It was the first time in this year's Vuelta that Dutch Pro Continental team Vacansoleil had not been represented in an escape group.

Along the way, Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Laurent Lefevre (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Allan Davis (Quick Step) and Mikel Gaztanaga Echeverria (Euskaltel) all abandoned the race.  The two Quick Step riders were cut down by intestinal problems.

De La Fuente chased mountain ranking points, looking to take the jersey away from David Moncoutié (Cofidis). The Fuji-Servetto rider may have had zero points going into the day, but diligently gathered them at every climb.

Once again, the favourites' teams were willing to let the escapees go. De La Fuente was the best placed of the bunch, and at 13:31 down, he was not a real threat to leader Cadel Evans. Evans' Silence-Lotto team kept an eye on things and led the peloton over the climber's course, which featured barely an inch of flat riding.

In fact, Silence-Lotto could hardly have picked up a better escape group. The seven riders presented no threat to the lead, enabling the Belgian team to take it a little easier on the mountainous stage.

As they all neared the final climb, it looked for a moment as if the peloton was going to pick up its speed and give serious chase. Rabobank and Liquigas gave signs of moving in to help with the lead work, but apparently everyone decided to give themselves a break today.

However, the peloton was luring specators into a false sense of security. As the final climb got serious so did the bunch. Within six km to go, the lead group had fallen apart and the gap shrunk to under two minutes. Caisse d'Epargne led the chase up the brutal final climb.

Taaramae (Cofidis) managed to get away from his companions, finally dropping De La Fuente as all the riders suffered on the 17 to 20 percent gradient of the Alto de Xorret de Cati.

Things weren't helped at all by the team and race cars which had to pull over to the side of the road to let the chasing peloton through. Although, there was barely room as riders rode in single file, weaving their way through.

Evans, Valverde, and Basso stayed in the lead and made their way up the killer climb, catching and passing the remnants of the breakaway. Behind them a few others made their own way up to the tailcoats of the day's early leaders, including Garmin's Tom Danielson and Rabobank's Robert Gesink.

With 3.5 km to go, César and Manzano made their way up to past Taamarae, who by this point was practically standing still after his own day long effort. The Xacobeo rider took off for the final mountain points and kept on alone. Behind him, Manzano was being followed by the three favourites.

Valverde kept up the pressure on his Australian rival, trying his best to get away from the race leader. He fired attack after attack, but was unable to shake Evans.

The final mountain ranking was followed by a short descent, with all the riders going all out on the steep run towards the line. Gesink was able to bridge across and joined Valverde, Evans and Basso in the final bolt for the line.

César went into the final km with a narrow advantage, but it was enough to give him his first ever Vuelta stage win and the first of this year's race by a Spaniard.

Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gustavo César Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia5:21:04
2Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-NGC0:00:21
3Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:00:40
4David De La Fuente (Spa) Fuji-Servetto0:00:41
5Robert Gesink (Ned) RabobankRow 4 - Cell 2
6Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-LottoRow 5 - Cell 2
7Ivan Basso (Ita) LiquigasRow 6 - Cell 2
8Javier Ramírez (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:00:53
9Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:01:12
10Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-SlipstreamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-NGCRow 10 - Cell 2
12Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La MondialeRow 11 - Cell 2
13Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo GaliciaRow 12 - Cell 2
14Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-NGC0:01:29
15Fränk Schleck (Lux) Saxo BankRow 14 - Cell 2
16Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 15 - Cell 2
17Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:01:37
18Daniel Navarro (Spa) AstanaRow 17 - Cell 2
19Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil0:01:39
20Juan José Cobo (Spa) Fuji-ServettoRow 19 - Cell 2
21Xavier Tondo (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:01:57
22Manuel Váquez (Spa) Contentpolis-AmpoRow 21 - Cell 2
23Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana0:01:58
24Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux0:02:05
25Amaël Moinard (Fra) CofidisRow 24 - Cell 2
26Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence-LottoRow 25 - Cell 2
27Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Xacobeo Galicia0:02:17
28Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 27 - Cell 2
29Koos Moerenhout (Ned) RabobankRow 28 - Cell 2
30Daniel Moreno (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 29 - Cell 2
31Françis De Greef (Bel) Silence-LottoRow 30 - Cell 2
32Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) VacansoleilRow 31 - Cell 2
33Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) LiquigasRow 33 - Cell 2
35Jesús Hernández (Spa) AstanaRow 34 - Cell 2
36Julián Sánchez (Spa) Contentpolis-Ampo0:02:24
37David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia0:02:39
38Arkaitz Durán (Spa) Fuji-ServettoRow 37 - Cell 2
39Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam0:02:41
40José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervélo TestTeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Damien Monier (Fra) CofidisRow 40 - Cell 2
42John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 41 - Cell 2
43Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 42 - Cell 2
44Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne0:02:58
45Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step0:03:04
46Adam Hansen (Aus) Columbia-HTC0:03:14
47Julien El Farès (Fra) CofidisRow 46 - Cell 2
48Serafín Martínez (Spa) Xacobeo GaliciaRow 47 - Cell 2
49Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step0:03:18
50David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis0:03:29
51Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Slipstream0:03:34
52Manuel Calvente (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:03:36
53Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 52 - Cell 2
54Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto0:03:51
55David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:03:55
56Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 55 - Cell 2
57David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Slipstream0:04:11
58Gustavo Dominguez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia0:04:43
59Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Fuji-Servetto0:04:58
60Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo BankRow 59 - Cell 2
61Mickaël Chérel (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 60 - Cell 2
62Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervélo TestTeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Christian Meier (Can) Garmin-SlipstreamRow 62 - Cell 2
64Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) CofidisRow 63 - Cell 2
65Bram Tankink (Ned) RabobankRow 64 - Cell 2
66Christian Knees (Ger) Milram0:05:18
67Thomas Rohregger (Aut) MilramRow 66 - Cell 2
68Alberto Fernández Sainz (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia0:05:24
69Jesús Rosendo (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:05:41
70Francisco José Martínez (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:05:46
71Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank0:05:55
72Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick StepRow 71 - Cell 2
73Mathieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des Jeux0:06:05
74Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:06
75Paul Martens (Ger) RabobankRow 74 - Cell 2
76Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 75 - Cell 2
77José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana0:06:09
78Bingen Fernández (Spa) CofidisRow 77 - Cell 2
79Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervélo TestTeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo BankRow 79 - Cell 2
81Matthias Russ (Ger) MilramRow 80 - Cell 2
82Davide Viganò (Ita) Fuji-Servetto0:06:12
83Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Saxo Bank0:06:42
84Lars Boom (Ned) RabobankRow 83 - Cell 2
85Marco Velo (Ita) Quick StepRow 84 - Cell 2
86Gonzalo Rabuñal (Spa) Xacobeo GaliciaRow 85 - Cell 2
87Bert Grabsch (Ger) Columbia-HTCRow 86 - Cell 2
88Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:07:10
90Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La MondialeRow 89 - Cell 2
91Iñaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:08:07
92Björn Leukemans (Bel) VacansoleilRow 91 - Cell 2
93José Luis Arrieta (Spa) AG2R La MondialeRow 92 - Cell 2
94Egoi Martínez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 93 - Cell 2
95Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Lampre-NGC0:08:09
96Aitor Hernández (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 95 - Cell 2
97Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 96 - Cell 2
98Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-NGCRow 97 - Cell 2
99Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) VacansoleilRow 98 - Cell 2
100Ignas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervélo TestTeamRow 99 - Cell 2
101Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervélo TestTeamRow 100 - Cell 2
102Gregory Henderson (NZl) Columbia-HTC0:08:36
103Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Saxo BankRow 102 - Cell 2
104Dominik Roels (Ger) MilramRow 103 - Cell 2
105Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo BankRow 104 - Cell 2
106David Herrero (Spa) Xacobeo GaliciaRow 105 - Cell 2
107Michael Schär (Swi) AstanaRow 106 - Cell 2
108Rubén Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 107 - Cell 2
109Mickaël Delage (Fra) Silence-LottoRow 108 - Cell 2
110Pieter Weening (Ned) RabobankRow 109 - Cell 2
111Rein Taaramäe (Est) Cofidis0:08:47
112Leonardo Duque (Col) CofidisRow 111 - Cell 2
113Emanuele Bindi (Ita) Lampre-NGC0:08:53
114Fabio Sabatini (Ita) LiquigasRow 113 - Cell 2
115Francesco Tomei (Ita) Lampre-NGCRow 114 - Cell 2
116Björn Schröder (Ger) Milram0:09:05
117Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick StepRow 116 - Cell 2
118Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram0:09:11
119Kjell Carlström (Fin) Liquigas0:09:12
120Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Rabobank0:09:38
121Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Saxo BankRow 120 - Cell 2
122Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 121 - Cell 2
123Lieuwe Westra (Ned) VacansoleilRow 122 - Cell 2
124Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Lampre-NGCRow 123 - Cell 2
125Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam0:09:40
126Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin-SlipstreamRow 125 - Cell 2
127Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-SlipstreamRow 126 - Cell 2
128Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Columbia-HTC0:09:54
129Vicente Reynes (Spa) Columbia-HTCRow 128 - Cell 2
130André Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTCRow 129 - Cell 2
131Matthé Pronk (Ned) VacansoleilRow 130 - Cell 2
132Marco Marcato (Ita) VacansoleilRow 131 - Cell 2
133Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) AstanaRow 132 - Cell 2
134Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) AstanaRow 133 - Cell 2
135Martin Velits (Svk) MilramRow 134 - Cell 2
136Borut Bozic (Slo) VacansoleilRow 135 - Cell 2
137Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 136 - Cell 2
138Paul Voss (Ger) MilramRow 137 - Cell 2
139William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 138 - Cell 2
140Jesús Del Nero (Spa) Fuji-Servetto0:10:03
141Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas0:10:04
142Alan Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 141 - Cell 2
143Oliver Zaugg (Swi) LiquigasRow 142 - Cell 2
144Daniele Bennati (Ita) LiquigasRow 143 - Cell 2
145Franck Bouyer (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom0:10:08
146Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre-NGC0:10:15
147Francisco Jose Pacheco Torres (Spa) Contentpolis-AmpoRow 146 - Cell 2
148Xabier Zandio (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 147 - Cell 2
149Adrián Palomares (Spa) Contentpolis-AmpoRow 148 - Cell 2
150Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Silence-LottoRow 149 - Cell 2
151Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank0:10:31
152Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Française des JeuxRow 151 - Cell 2
153Antonio Piedra (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:10:34
154José Antonio López (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:10:39
155Jean Eudes Demaret (Fra) Cofidis0:10:41
156Assan Bazayev (Kaz) AstanaRow 155 - Cell 2
157Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Fuji-ServettoRow 156 - Cell 2
158Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-SlipstreamRow 157 - Cell 2
159Manuel Quinziato (Ita) LiquigasRow 158 - Cell 2
160Eros Capecchi (Ita) Fuji-ServettoRow 159 - Cell 2
161Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-SlipstreamRow 160 - Cell 2
162Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick StepRow 161 - Cell 2
163Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Spa) Contentpolis-AmpoRow 162 - Cell 2
164Sergio Dominguez Munoz (Spa) Contentpolis-AmpoRow 163 - Cell 2
165Michael Albasini (Swi) Columbia-HTC0:10:45
166Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française des JeuxRow 165 - Cell 2
167Oscar Freire (Spa) RabobankRow 166 - Cell 2
168Francisco Pérez (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 167 - Cell 2
169Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 168 - Cell 2
170Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 169 - Cell 2
171Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 170 - Cell 2
172Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-HTC0:10:48
173Javier Benitez (Spa) Contentpolis-Ampo0:10:50
174Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto0:11:22
175Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin-Slipstream0:11:24
176Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram0:11:28
177José Ruiz (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur0:11:32
178Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step0:11:36
179Anthony Roux (Fra) Française des Jeux0:11:43
180Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil0:11:47
181Damien Gaudin (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom0:12:30
182José Vicente Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:12:34
183Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas0:13:39
184Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 183 - Cell 2
185Christophe Brandt (Bel) Silence-Lotto0:14:25
DNFLaurent Lefèvre (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 185 - Cell 2
DNFMikel Gaztañaga Echeverria (Spa) Contentpolis-AmpoRow 186 - Cell 2
DNFCarlos Barredo (Spa) Quick StepRow 187 - Cell 2
DNFAllan Davis (Aus) Quick StepRow 188 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1- Xixona, Km.: 53,7
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step4pts
2Gustavo César Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Javier Ramírez (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Castalla, Km.: 177
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Gustavo César Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia4pts
2David De La Fuente (Spa) Fuji-Servetto2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-NGC1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 3 - Final
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Gustavo César Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia25pts
2Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-NGC20Row 1 - Cell 3
3Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne16Row 2 - Cell 3
4David De La Fuente (Spa) Fuji-Servetto14Row 3 - Cell 3
5Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Javier Ramírez (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-NGC5Row 10 - Cell 3
12Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 11 - Cell 3
13Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-NGC2Row 13 - Cell 3
15Fränk Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank1Row 14 - Cell 3
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