Vuelta Stage 7: Cancellara reigns in Spain
Towering performance in ITT provides clear signal for Worlds
Image © Unipublic
Vuelta 2009 Stage 6: Valencia ITT, 30KM
Swiss time trial king Fabian Cancellara blew apart the rest of the field on a wet, windy day on the Mediterranean, taking the 30km individual time trial in 36 minutes 41 seconds to win from Britain’s David Millar by 32 seconds.
In doing so, the Swiss Saxo Bank rider also took back the race leader’s golden jersey from Columbia-HTC’s André Greipel who finished more than two and a half minutes off the pace in 67th place.
Lars Boom of Rabobank had set the early pace in the rain, but Grabsch, set the benchmark for the later starters with a time of 37 minutes 17 seconds, His lead didn’t last long, however with Garmin-Slipstream's Millar coming through the rain with a four-second advantage over the German, setting a time that only Cancellara could better.
The Swiss rider’s form today is a clear statement of intent ahead of the UCI Road World Championships on home soil in Mendrisio later this month, when he will be looking to win back the rainbow jersey from Columbia-HTC’s Bert Grabsch, who won the title in Varese, Italy, 12 months ago.
Cancellara had won the title in 2006 and 2007 and despite winning gold in the Olympic individual time trial in Beijing, chose not to defend his world title, blaming mental fatigue.
Fittingly, today’s 30-kilometre dead flat course had a Swiss flavour, starting at the America’s Cup Pier where in 2007 the Geneva-registered yacht Alinghi successfully defended the trophy it had won in Auckland four years earlier – Switzerland itself being rather bereft of coastline suitable for offshore racing.
And that wasn’t the only nod to Valencia’s recent efforts to establish itself on the international sporting scene, with the route then taking in parts of the street circuit used in Formula 1’s European Grand Prix, and finishing at the exact point where Brawn GP driver Rubens Barrichello took the chequered flag in that race a fortnight ago.
Tomorrow sees the Vuelta’s first mountain stage, which ends in a summit finish on the Aitana after a 6.5-kilometre climb at a gradient of almost 10 per cent that will give pretenders to a podium place in Madrid in two weeks’ time a chance to show their form, with general classification favourites such as Andy Schleck looking to make back time lost today.