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If there is any such thing as a nailed on certainty in professional cycling it is Fabian Cancellara's ability to win grand tour prologues and today's Vuelta added further proof of Cancellara's opening day prowess. Indeed, on a short and rain affected course around the motor racing circuit in the Dutch town of Assen Cancellara blasted the competition out of site despatching the 4.8Km course in 5:20 a full 9 seconds faster than his closest rival, the Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen.
The early starters went out under cloudy skys with Liquigas rider Roman Kreuziger setting the time to beat, 5:37 but then the wind picked up and the rain swept in – conditions were trecherous and the unfortunate Carlos Barredo (Liquigas) went down almost as soon as he'd exited the start ramp, David Millar (Garmin Slipstream) gave a masterful display of riding in the rain to post a time of 5:47 but such was the treacherous nature of the wet tarmac that he could never hope to ride through the corners in the way he would have in the dry.
After an hour the rain stopped the course began to dry just in time for the GC favourites, Andy Schleck showed that he still has some work to do on this time trialling before he can be regarded as rounded grand tour contender with a time of 5:58 before Cancellara gave him a masterclass on how it should be done. On a short, flat course it was no surprise that sprinters came to the fore and Tom Boonen headed Tyler Farrar to claim second place.
Oh, and Vino? Well, two years spent riding around the Kazakh steppe stopping only to stare in to the middle distance and think about his destiny doesn't seem to have done him any harm. He finished the stage in a useful 7th place 18 seconds down on Cancellara but ahead, just, of the likes of Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans.
Top 20 Stage 1 Vuelta 2009
1) Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) 0:05:20 2) Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 0:00:09 3) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) 0:00:12 4) Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil) 0:00:14 5) Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) 0:00:16 6) Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) 0:00:17 7) Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) 0:00:18 8) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 9) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 10) Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas) 0:00:19 11) Bert Grabsch (Columbia-HTC) 12) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 13) Linus Gerdemann (Milram) 14) Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) 0:00:21 15) David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) 16) Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne) 17) David Herrero (Xacobeo Galicia) 0:00:22 18) Ignas Konovalovas (Cervélo TestTeam) 19) Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne) 20) Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas)
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.