Vino and team-mate Andrey Kashechkin reacted to an attack by Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) with 6 kilometres to go, to put the hurt on the rest of the elite lead group. The sky-blue duo accelerated away with Vino doing most of the pulling.
Alejandro Valverde jumped after them in the closing stages and managed to claw himself up to Kashechkin. Vino had already flown and wasn’t going to come back and he soloed home for the win.
Valverde got a pretty nice consolation prize, snaring himself the maillot d’oro, as Discovery’s Janez Brajkovic felt the effects of a full-on first week catch up with him. The young Slovenian was a couple of minute down on the leaders, relying on Tom Danielson and Stijn Devolder for pacemaking duties.
Things really kicked off on the hors categorie Alto de San Lorenzo about 50kms from home, with the breakaway group splintering and three leaders now clear – Arroyo, Martinez and Anton. Behind, the field was in meltdown, too, as Carlos Barredo drove things for Vino’s Astana team.
With the leaders back in the fold, Paolo Bettini tried a move with 20kms to go, and pulled out a nifty lead of 45 seconds. But the steep grade and the power being laid down behind saw him swamped once Vino and Kashechkin had jumped.
Vladimir Karpets did his job to keep Valverde in touch with Kashechkin, his closest rival for the lead, and that helped the Caisse d’ Epargne boys snag the lead.
Early on today we had the ‘deluxe’ model breakaway group trying to go clear – Vuelta 2005 ‘champion’ Denis Menchov, Tour de France 2006 ‘champion’ Oscar Pereiro and Michael Rasmussen all involved in a failed attempt to blow things up.
Pez diarist Dario Cioni was active throughout the stage, even spending a good few kms off the front by himself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his day, but we’ll hope to bring you the inside story of his adventure in the next couple of days.
Tomorrow gives the riders a chance to rest up before resuming with a flat stage on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the field numbers will be reduced as we had a few more DNFs today – Bernard Kohl crashed out, and T-Mobole lost his team-mates Griepel and Ziegler, too. We also lost Jalabert, De Vocht and Isasi among others.
Pez will have plenty more action for you even if the roads are quiet, so don’t touch that dial!
Vuelta a Espana Stage 9: A Fonsagrada – Alto de La Cobertoria, 207 km
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 5hrs 50’ 43”
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears + 16”
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana + 21”
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC + 43”
5 Josй Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir same
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas same
7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel + 1’ 46”
8 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir same
9 Samuel Sбnchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 1’ 59”
10 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel + 2’ 14”
Vuelta a Espana General Classification After Stage 9
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears 36hrs 41’ 31”
2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana + 26”
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC + 44”
4 Josй Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir + 56”
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana + 1’ 38
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel + 2’ 05”
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas + 2’ 21”
8 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel + 2’ 28”
9 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Lampre-Fondital + 3’ 59”
10 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Fondital + 5’ 18”