Greg Van Avermaet of Silence-Lotto won Stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espa¤a by beating his escape companions in a sprint in Sabi¤ nigo. The Belgian speedster was the strongest of a group of 12 who broke away after 60km of the 200.8km stage, but Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was the best-placed rider and took over
the leader’s jersey by just 11 seconds from previous leader Levi Leipheimer (Astana).
After an active, attacking start to Stage 9 where several unsuccessful attempts were made to get away on the first of four categorised climbs and finally after 60km, a break succeeded and then steadily built a lead over the Astana led peloton. Leipheimer’s team then deciding that the jersey was not worth defending at this point in the race and let the break ride away. The escape du jour had a decidedly spring classics feel about it, with riders like Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre) involved. The break continued to work well together with yesterday’s winner David Moncoutie snapping up the main mountain points along the way.
With 60km to go to Sabi¤ nigo, Martinez was virtual leader on the road, and although the Astana team reduced the lead slightly, an attack by Flecha inside the closing stages caused the break’s speed to rise again. The other eleven riders worked together to pull back the flying Spanish Rabobanker, and Van Avemaet then the sprint win over Rebellin and Flecha, while Quick Step’s Wouter Weylandt led the bunch home 6’42” behind Van Avemaet. With time bonuses gained on the stage, Martinez now leads his former Discovery Channel teammate Leipheimer by 11″. Moncoutie’s reward for his aggressive climbing was to take the lead in the mountains standings, while Van Avermaet still finds himself trailing Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) in the points classification by a solitary point.
63rd Vuelta a Espa¤a
Monday, Stage 9: Viella-Sabi¤ nigo / 200.8km
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto
4h57’22” (40.52km/hr avg. speed)
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
General Classification after Stage 9
1. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 33h23’56”
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 @ 2’34”
9. Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Team CSC-Saxo Bank @ 2’54”
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank @ 3’22”