Oscar ?The Cat’ Freire of Rabobank pounced on Tom ?Tornado’ Boonen of Quick Step in the rush to the finish line in la Vuelta a Espa¤a Stage 11 in Burgos. The three-time World Champion from Spain showed that his racing form is coming along nicely ahead of his attempt on an unprecedented fourth rainbow jersey later this month in the World Championships in Varese, Italy. Behind the two former World champions Freire & Boonen were Argentinian speedster Juan Jose Haedo (CSC-Saxo Bank), evergreen old man Ete Zabel (Milram) and Lloyd Mondory (AG2R-La Mondiale).
It was a mixed start for the two top sprinters of the race: Freire receiving a 100CHF fine for not signing in and then Boonen took part in the first break of the day. It was not until 33km covered when Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo-Galicia) escaped the peloton, and was joined a few kilometres later by Jose Antonio Lopez Gil (Andalucia-Cajasur) and Andriy Grivko (Milram), that a breakaway succeeded in getting clear.
Between them, the three escapees co-operated well together, building a maximum lead of almost six minutes at the stage’s halfway point. With the sprinters’ teams controlling the peloton though the catch had an almost inevitability about it and the margin began to drop steadily. Even the inclusion of a third category climb with 37km to the finish was not enough to help the breakaway riders as even World champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) was seen to be leading the charging pack in service of his big Belgian team-mate.
With 7km to go the break was reeled in and the pace was kept too high by the sprinters’ teams for any counter attacks to stick. Tommeke Tornado Boonen was given a perfect lead out by his Quick Step teammates, but then Oscarito the Cat showed that brilliant final burst of speed that has earned him so many great victories in his career to come around Boonen in the final few metres to open his Vuelta account for this year.
63rd Vuelta a Espa¤a
Wednesday, September 10: Stage 11: Calahorra-Burgos / 178km
1. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank / 4h19’28” (41.16 km/hr avg. speed)
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
3. Juan Jos Haedo (Arg) Team CSC – Saxo Bank
4. Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
5. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
7. Xavier Florencio (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence – Lotto
9. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre
10. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
Vuelta a Espa¤a / General classification after Stage 11
1. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana @ 11″
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana @ 32″
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 1′
5. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank @ 1’38”
6. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia @ 2’10”
7. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi @ 2’23”
8. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 2’32”
9. Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Team CSC – Saxo Bank @ 2’54”
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank @ 3’22”