Columbia-HTC take third successive Vuelta sprint

Image © Unipublic

Vuelta 2009 Stage 5: Tarragona-Vinaròs, 174KM

André Greipel made it two in a row for himself and three for his team Columbia-HTC by perfectly timing his sprint to beat Belgium’s Tom Boonen in Vinaròs this afternoon - and time bonuses and a split in the bunch mean that the German rider also takes the race leader's golden jersey from Fabian Cancellara.

Britain's Roger Hammond, meanwhile, finished 15th and moves up to 12th in the general classification.

Following yesterday’s break in action, the Vuelta returned to home soil after four days' racing in the Low Countries. Tuesday’s downpour in Liège, which resulted in a 40-rider pile-up inside the last three kilometres, was a distant memory as the peloton rode through southern Catalonia on a baking hot day with the temperature nudging 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite the crash in Belgium, only three riders failed to start in Tarragona – Britain’s Charly Wegelius (Silence-Lotto), who abandoned during Stage 4, exhausted after a long season in which he completed both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, and Chris Horner (Astana) and Robert Kiserlovski (Fuji-Servetto), who respectively broke a wrist and collarbone in the crash in Liège. However, bumps and bruises suffered on Tuesday kept the race doctor busy throughout today’s stage.

By the 25-kilometre mark, a six-man breakaway had formed, although the peloton never allowed it to gain more than a seven-minute advantage, before reeling the escapees in 20 kilometres from the finish with teams jockeying for position ahead of a tricky close to the stage with narrowing, twisting and undulating roads.

Although Silence-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert attacked on the day’s final climb, he was quickly brought back as the pace quickened ahead of the bunch sprint.

However, the earlier break did give Euskatel-Euskadi’s Aitor Hernandez the opportunity to swap orange for claret as he wrested the mountains jersey from Rabobank’s Lars Boom by being first over the Category 2 Coll de Fatxas.

Tomorrow sees a 186-kilometre stage that starts and finishes in the town of Xátiva ahead of Saturday’s 30-kilometre individual time trial in the nearby city of Valencia.

That, plus the following two days’ mountain stages comprising some serious climbs including a summit finish on the near-10% gradient Aitana on Sunday, will go a long way towards determining who is going to battle for victory in Madrid in a fortnight’s time.

Top 20 Vuelta 2009, Stage 5

1) André Greipel (Columbia-HTC)                       4:27:54
2) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
3) Daniele Bennati (Liquigas)
4) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream)
5) William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
6) Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto)
7) Óscar Freire (Rabobank)
8) Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil)
9) Davide Vigano (Fuji-Servetto)
10) Fco. José Pacheco (Contentpolis-Ampo)
11) Dominique Rollin (Cervélo TestTeam)
12) Sébastien Hinault (AG2R-La Mondiale)
13) Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-NGC)
14) Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank)                        0:00:04
15) Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam)                  0:00:07
16) Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas)                         0:00:09
17) Dominik Roel (Milram)                             0:00:13
18) Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank)                        0:00:14
19) Marcel Sieberg (Columbia-HTC)                     0:00:14
20) Mickael Delage (Silence-Lotto)                    0:00:18

Top 10 General Classification after Stage 5

1) André Griepel (Columbia-HTC)                      19:40:23
2) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)                            0:00:06
3) Bennati, Daniele (Liquigas)                        0:00:17
4) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream)                   0:00:21
5) Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)                      0:00:27
6) Óscar Freire (Rabobank)                            0:00:33
7) William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)             0:00:34
8) Dominique Rollin (Cervélo TestTeam)                0:00:38
9) Bert Grabsch (Columbia-HTC)                        0:00:38
10) Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-NGC)                    0:00:38



Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.