Image © Unipublic
Vuelta 2009 Stage 2: Assen-Emmen, 204KM
Milram's Gerard Ciolek won the second stage of this year's Vuelta a Espana taking a bunch sprint in to the Dutch town of Emmen from Franco Sabatini, Briton, Roger Hammond came home in third place.
The reward for his victory was that Ciolek moves up in to second place overall (yes, they have time bonuses at the Vuelta) behind Fabian Cancellara who finished safely in the pack to retain his overall lead.
The stage started under grey skies with the riders having to deal with high winds and some lashing rain – it looked more like October (and must have felt like it too) rather than August – if the weather in the Low Countries keeps this up Spain is going to take some acclimatising to when the race hits home turf.
On a day made for the spinters the stage conformed to the usual pattern of these things and early break: Francisco Jose Martinez Perez (Andalucia-Caja Sur), Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Dominik Roels (Milram), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and David Garcia da Pena (Xacobeo-Galicia) got away and built up a lead that at one point stretched to seven minutes, before the sprint teams (or their directeurs' did the maths and put the hammer down with 70Km to go. Cancellara's Saxo Bank team had, as expected been sitting at the head of things and they did some of the early work, but then Garmin and Quick Step took over and upped the pace with the Garmin duo of Svein Tuft and David Millar putting in a conspicuous effort.
This being Holland there were cobbles and the escape started to break up under the pressure of the chase going over a section of the rough stuff 20km from the finish with Martinez Perez dropped, maybe he was just more aware than the others that the game was already up – the catch was made with 12Km to go and there followed a tussle for the front of the pack between all the major sprint teams with Columbia inevitably winning prime spot for the closing kilometres.
However, there's no point doing all that work if you can't finish the job – and Andre Greipel (depping for Mark Cavendish) couldn't. It was left to Quickstep's Tom Boonen to make the first decisive move for the line but he went too early and Ciolek came through the middle to take the win, had the stage been 50m longer a rapidly closing Sabatini might have taken it.
On Monday the race tackles a 190Km route from Zutphen to Venio with a detour into Ciolek's homeland along the way – maybe the young German will take that as an omen for his chances.
Top 20 Vuelta 2009, Stage 2
1) Gerald Ciolek (Milram) 4:43:12
2) Fabio Sabatini (ILiquigas)
3) Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam)
4) André Greipel (Columbia-HTC)
5) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream)
6) Leonardo Duque (Cofidis)
7) Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto)
8) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
9) Davide Viganò (Fuji-Servetto)
10) Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux)
11) Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil)
12) Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
13) Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil)
14) Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank)
15) Alessandro Ballan (ILampre-NGC)
16) Sébastien Hinault (AG2R La Mondiale)
17) Francisco Jose Pacheco Torres (Contentpolis-Ampo)
18) Dominique Rollin (Cervélo TestTeam)
19) Björn Schröder (Milram)
20) William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
Top 10 General Classification after Stage 2
1) Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) 4:48:32
2) Gerald Ciolek (Milram) 0:00:08
3) Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 0:00:09
4) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) 0:00:12
5) Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil) 0:00:14
6) Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) 0:00:16
7) Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) 0:00:17
8) David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia) 0:00:18
9) Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
10) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
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