Image © Unipublic
Vuelta 2009 Stage 9: Alcoy - Xorret del Catí, 189KM
Spanish fans saw the first home stage win of the 2009 Vuelta this afternoon with Gustavo César Veloso of the Xacobeo-Galicia team taking the biggest victory of his career in Xorret del Catí this afternoon.
And it was a double celebration for the host country as Caisse d’Epargne’s Alejandro Valverde, who finished third, took a vital time bonus to leapfrog Australia’s Cadel Evans to take the race leader’s golden jersey by seven seconds from the Silence-Lotto rider.
Evans gave a flash of his fiery temper immediately after finishing fifth, however, claiming that Rabobank’s Robert Gesink had forced him into the barriers as they approached the line right behind Valverde, leaving him no option but to concede two places, and eight seconds that denied him a second day in gold, to the Spaniard.
But while such a protest may give the race referee pause for thought following a bunch sprint – witness Mark Cavendish’s disqualification after Stage 14 of the Tour de France in Colmar when it was adjudged that he had impeded eventual Green Jersey winner Thor Hushovd – it’s unlikely to prompt a review following a mountain stage.
Veloso had bridged the gap to a six-man breakaway group early in the stage, the escapees including David de la Fuente of Fuji Servetto, who was first man over all but the last of today’s seven categorised climbs – clearly, a man with his sights on the magenta best climber’s jersey.
De la Fuente faded on the day’s final ascent, the punishing Alto Xorret del Catí, a five-kilometre climb with a gradient that in places hits 20%. With fellow escapee Rein Taaramae of Cofidis also struggling, Veloso and Lampre-NGC’s Marco Marzano, another member of the breakaway, were left with a rapid descent to the line to take the first two places in the stage.
Behind them, the big guns were battling it out for their places in the general classification, with time bonuses, sadly absent nowadays from the Tour de France, adding extra spice in the race to the line. Those seconds won and lost over the course of three weeks could prove when the race finishes in Madrid?
Tomorrow’s transitional stage, covering 170 kilometres from Alicante to Murcia, features a nasty, 4.5 kilometre Category 2 climb shortly before the finish, and may again favour a breakaway win with the general classification contenders scrapping for time bonuses in the lower placings.
Top 20 Stage 9
1) Gustavo César Veloso (Xacobeo Galicia) 05:21:04 2) Marco Marzano (Lampre-NGC) 00:00:21 3) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:00:40 4) David De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto) 00:00:41 5) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 00:00:41 6) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 00:00:41 7) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 00:00:41 8) Javier Ramírez Abeja (Andalucía-Cajasur) 00:00:53 9) Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) 00:01:12 10) Thomas Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) 00:01:12 11) Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) 00:01:12 12) Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale) 00:01:12 13) Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 00:01:12 14) Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) 00:01:29 15) Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) 00:01:29 16) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:01:29 17) Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:01:37 18) Daniel Navarro (Astana) 00:01:37 19) Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) 00:01:39 20) Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) 00:01:39
Top 10 General Classification after Stage 9
1) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 36:26:40 2) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 00:00:07 3) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 00:00:36 4) Thomas Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) 00:00:51 5) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 00:00:53 6) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 00:01:03 7) Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) 00:02:04 8) Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 00:02:24 9) Haimar Zubeldia (Astana) 00:03:01 10) Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) 00:03:08
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.