2008 Vuelta a España: Live Updates – Stage 9

12:18 PM: Good day and welcometo VeloNews.com's Live Coverage of the ninth stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España, a 200.8-kilometer ride from Vielha to Sabiñánigo.

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  • 12:18 PM: Good day and welcome

    to VeloNews.com’s Live Coverage of the ninth stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España, a 200.8-kilometer ride from Vielha to Sabiñánigo.

    Today’s route traverses the Pyrénées as it pushes west across the southern, sun-baked flank of the mountains. The hilly stage shouldn’t present a major problem for the main GC contenders, but provides plenty of opportunities for stage-hunters. Two second-category and one third-category climbs in the first half of the long stage should set a breakaway.

    There’s the narrow and steep Cat. 1 Puerto de Serrablo, but at 66km from the finish, the climb should only be difficult for riders who are already on the ropes. The stage finishes with a 16km circuit around Sabiñánigo, hometown of retired Spanish climber Fernando Escartín.

  • 12:24 PM: Riders in the neutral zone

    today’s stage will formally begin at around 12:35.

    The day’s first climb – the Category 2 Alto del Tunel de Vieha – kicks in early, with the climb beginning almost from the gun. The day’s start is at 980 meters and turns upward, climbing 420 meters in the first 6.5km. The summit of the Alto del Tunel de Vieha comes at 12.2km at an altitude of 1610 meters. How’s that for a nice start to your day?

  • 12:26 PM: Bernhard Kohl

    The Silence-Lotto team has signed a deal with this year’s big surprise, the Austrian Bernhard Kohl. Kohl’s signing may give a big boost to Cadel Evans’ hopes of winning the Tour. Of course signing a contender in his own right might prove to be as big of a disappointment as the team’s contract with Yaroslav Popovych, who was hoped to be a major help to Evans in this last Tour. That didn’t pan out as well as the team had planned and Evans often found himself isolated at key moments, most significantly on the slopes of L’Alpe d’Huez, the stage in which Carlos Sastre really won the 2008 Tour de France.

    On another note, Silence Lotto’s Mathew Lloyd has not signed in today. He won’t be here and the peloton is now down to 161 riders. Lloyd was in a big crash in yesterday’s stage and has taken a pass on starting today’s.

  • 12:36 PM: On the road again

    the official start came at 12:30 and the riders are heading to the Alto Túnel de Vielha.

  • 12:38 PM: Drop us a line

    As you know, you can send us a note, simply by hitting the “Contact Our Editors” link below our Live Update Window.

    We promise to read them all, answer as many as we can and even post a few of your comments in our coverage as the day progresses.

  • 12:50 PM: Bobby J

    News from the CSC team today is that American Bobby Julich has formally announced plans to retire at the end of the season.

    Julich has had a long and impressive career, which began as a member of the Spago team in 1992, a squad under the direction of former 7-Eleven DS Mike Neel. Julich then went to Chevrolet in 1994 and then hit European roads with Motorola (1995-1996), Cofidis (1997-1999), Crédit Agricole (2000-2001), Telekom (2002-2003), before coming to CSC in 2004. His contract comes to an end this year and he has already said he’d been considering retirement when the season comes to a close.

    His biggest accomplishment as a cyclist came in 1998 when he reached the podium in the Tour de France, finishing behind Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich, both of whom have left the sport for reasons other than retirement.

    Out on the road of today’s stage, the peloton is staying relatively intact as riders work their way up the Alto del Túnel de Vielha.

  • 01:00 PM: We have some action

    at the front of the peloton.

    There is a substantial group of 11 riders. None appear to pose a GC threat to race leader Levi Leipheimer. The gap is not significant.

    Alan Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto)
    Valero Agnoli (Liquigas)
    Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r)
    Iban Myoz (Xacebo Galicia)
    Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff)
    Patrice Hagland (Credit Agricole)
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
    Matti Breschel (CSC)
    Jerome Vincent (Bouygues Telecom).

    … and they’ve been caught.

  • 01:09 PM: Up and over

    the peloton has crested the first climb of the day. A group of five riders – Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Marteen Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto), David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas) – scampered off the front as the summit approached. They led the group over the top, but the gap is not huge.

    The crested the climb in the following order:

    Moncoutie may be in the hunt for KOM points. He is second in that contest, trailing stage 7 stage winner, Alessandro Ballan by 10 points:
    1. Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Lampre, 51pts
    2. David Moncoutie (FRA), Cofidis, 41
    3. Manuel Garate, Juan (ESP), Quick Step, 32
    4. Alberto Contador (ESP), Astana, 32
    5. Marc De Maar (NED), Rabobank, 31

  • 01:13 PM: It’s an interesting

    descent, with the peloton passing through a series of tunnels on the way down. It could prompt riders to take this one on a bit more cautiously than usual.

  • 01:23 PM: All together now

    The break has been pulled back and the peloton is working its way down the back side of the Alto del Túnel de Vielha.

    As we said, there are four tunnels that mark the descent. That may have contributed to the catch. It’s a scary thing to speed into a tunnel at high speeds some times, since even the ones that feature internal lighting still cause a momentary blindness as a rider’s eyes adjust to the change.

  • 01:30 PM: Up ahead

    the Category 2 Coll de L’ Espina begins at kilometer 39.8, at an altitude of 1005 meters and summits at 46.2km at 1410 meters.

    The KOM mark actually comes a bit before the top of the climb and then drops slightly before another short haul up the unrated Coll de Fadas (1470m) before dropping for the next 28km to the base of the Cat.3 Puerto de La Foradada. That climb begins at 86.6km (650m) and summits at 92.5km (1020m).

    Then, at 121.1km the Cat. 1 Puerto de Serrablo begins at an altitude of 600 meters and rides to an altitude of 1290 meters at km 134.4.

    From there, the race continues for another 66km on rolling terrain, with the finish at Sabiñánigo at 790 meters.

  • 01:37 PM: Nearing the second climb

    the peloton is on the lower slopes of the Coll de l’Espina. There have been several attacks, but until now none of them have managed to hold.

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) has joined up with Luis Pasamontes (Caisse d’Epargene), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Martin Velits (Milram) in another attack.

  • 01:45 PM: Reader comment

    Reader Rebecca writes in to say:

    Dear VeloNews,
    Why is it not possible to contact Andrew Hood or your other writers via e-mail? I’ve sent compliments to Andrew before for his excellent work, but I’ve never heard back and have no idea if he ever got the messages.

    It’s not good for a journalist to be inaccessible to his readership. If there is praise, he should hear it. If there’s a point to contend, he should welcome it. It goes with the territory.

    The Stage 8 report for the Vuelta is very fine. The reports just get better and better. Presenting comments by the riders and DS’s is crucial to understanding what’s really going on–thanks for that.

    And to repeat what I’ve said in this auto-message form in the past, thanks to Andrew for his coverage of Alberto Contador.
    Rebecca, we agree that writers need to hear from readers and we do our best to make sure that our staff members do receive those messages. While we also try to answer as many as time permits, Mr. Hood is especially busy during the grand tours and doesn’t always get the chance to answer them personally. We do expect that he reads them, though.

    Our man Hoody has been on the road for much of the year, covering the Classics, the Giro, the Tour, the Olympics (for the IOC) and now the Vuelta. He doesn’t even answer all of our emails, but he does call and email home to his lovely (and patient) wife Maria Jesus back home in Leon, Spain.

  • 01:56 PM: Reader question

    Robert Y writes in to ask

    Why is Levi Leipheimer conceding the Vuelta to Alberto Contador? He could become the first American winner of this grand tour and is clearly riding better than Alberto.
    We might disagree with the assertion that he’s riding better than Contador. He did do better in the Stage 5 time trial, but Contador is expected excel when the steep stages come up, especially on Saturday’s finish atop the Angrilu. Leipheimer is a skilled rider and a helluva climber, but he’s also a team player. He’s ready to step into the role of team leader should Contador falter in the remaining two weeks of the race, but we doubt that there will be the sort of intra-team infighting akin to the big LeMond/Hinault battle of the 1986 Tour.

  • 01:58 PM: Changes

    The Flecha group was pulled back by a steady effort from Astana, but there is now a new group, featuring Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre). We’ll ID the rest, but we may not get to much of a chance to do so, since this group of 10 is only a few seconds up the road.

  • 02:00 PM: The Cunego/Moncoutie group

    has led the peloton over the top of the KOM mark. We still need a breakdown of the point distribution and a time gap, though.

  • 02:04 PM: The men in the break

    Have been pulled back, but not before Moncoutie scored top points on the climb. He now leads the KOM contest.

    Astana is setting a tough pace, having trimmed the yellow jersey group to about 45 riders. None of the major favorites have missed the cut and we can expect the lead group to swell on the way down the back side of the Coll de l´Espina.

  • 02:08 PM: Cunego isn’t giving up

    he’s now joined in his third breakaway effort of the day. Flecha is in there, too. Wow… so is Moncoutie. They are up ahead with Davide Rebellin, Greg Van Avermart (Silence Lotto), Alan Perez (Euskaltel), Andrea Tonti (Quick Step), Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne), Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) and Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole).

  • 02:14 PM: On the downhill

    the break has just 25 seconds on the group that includes race leader Levi Leipheimer and a large contingent of Astana riders and other race favorites, including Valverde.

  • 02:21 PM: Reader question

    Richard writes in to ask:

    I have a quick question regarding Carlos Sastre’s new team – as I understand it, the team will be designated as a “Continental” team, as such, are they eligible to ride in the Grand Tours? Is this a case in which the team won’t get an automatic bid but can be invited by the organizers to help fill out the fields or, given the ongoing soap opera otherwise known as cycling’s governing structure, is all of this still up in the air at this point?

    The new Cervelo squad will be a Continental team, but – as was the case with Garmin-Chipotle this year – it will be eligible to compete in the grand tours. The tours are pretty much dictacting who they want to invite these days, since the the ProTour has collapsed, meaning that no one gets an automatic invitation anymore. There are no guarantees, but barring a doping scandal, it’s very, very likely that the team of the defending Tour champion will be given the invitation to next year’s race. Of course, we are aware that the Astana team of Alberto Contador did not get the chance to defend the title he won while riding for Discovery, but the justification for that decision was based on ASO’s position that the Astana program – despite its from-the-ground-up restructuring – had been involved in two years’ worth of doping scandals.

    We’ll just wait and see.

  • 02:23 PM: The Cunego/Moncoutie group

    has been joined by Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel). They are closely followed by FDJ’s Jelle Vanedert, who is desperately trying to bridge.

    The Astana-led group is now 1:11 behind the break.

  • 02:28 PM: The highest placed

    rider in the break is Euskaltel’s Martinez, who started the day in 16th on GC, 6:41 out of first. Next is Davide Rebellin – 22nd at 10:24. Yesterday’s stage winner, David Moncoutie (Cofidis), is in 24th, at 10:49. The only grand tour winner in the bunch – Damiano Cunego (Lampre) – began the day in 50th position, already 25:45 out of the lead.

  • 02:33 PM: At 80km

    the leading group has an advantage of 2:00 on the Astana-led chase. Up ahead, the Cat.3 Puerto de la Foradada begins at km 86.6.

  • 02:40 PM: The gap

    has been cut a little as the riders approach the base of the day’s third KOM-rated climb.

  • 02:43 PM: On the Puerto de la Foradada

    the lead group is holding a 1:45 advantage over the group containing race leader Levi Leipheimer and his team.

  • 02:47 PM: Nearing the top of the climb

    our leaders have extended their advantage to 2:45.

    The men in the break are:
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto)
    Alan Perez (Euskaltel)
    Andrea Tonti (Quick Step)
    Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)
    Patrice Halgland (Credit Agricole)
    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole)
    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
    David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R)
    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)

  • 03:00 PM: On the way off

    the mountain, our lead group has upped its advantage to 3:15.

  • 03:06 PM: Reader question

    Ted C writes to ask

    What performance enhancing (so-called?) products such as GU, PowerGels, Shot Blocks, etc. are permissible for the riders to consume during actual stage competition? This would include products with very high caffeine content.

    Of course, food items – if you want to call things like GU “food” – are quite legal. The World Anti-Doping Code has toyed with the caffeine question in the past, setting dosage limits and such, but (we believe) that effort has been abandoned. Caffeine is pretty much the sort of drug (and we know that it is a drug) that one can use as one sees fit.

    There is a banned substances and methods list. That is the guidebook by which all riders are obligated to operate. If it’s not mentioned, one can assume it’s legal. That said, the Garmin team adopted an across-the-board no needles policy for the Tour this year, and that included iron and vitamin injections as well as saline IV solutions. They had the right to do it, but they opted not to do so.

  • 03:08 PM: Speaking of food

    the race leaders – with an advantage of 3:25 – are now past the feedzone, which is located at the 106km mark today.

  • 03:14 PM: Germany

    has named its team for the 2008 world championships.

    Road Race
    Gerald Ciolek (Columbia)
    Marcus Burghardt (Columbia)
    Gerdemann (Columbia)
    Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
    Fabian Wegmann
    Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner)
    Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)
    Christian Knees (Milram)
    Erik Zabel (Milram)

    Bert Grabsch (Columbia)
    Tony Martin (Columbia)

    One rider who is notably absent from that list is Andreas Kloden (Astana), who has essentially told the German federation to bugger off, after they passed over his name as a candidate for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

  • 03:16 PM: With the peloton

    well past the feedzone, too, the race is heading toward the day’s fourth – and toughest – climb.

    Currently, the escapees are enjoying an advantage of 3:30 over the Astana-led chase group.

  • 03:23 PM: The biggie

    up ahead is the Category 1 Puerto de Serrablo, which kicks in at km 121.1 at altitude of 600 meters and continues up to 1290 meters at km134.4.

  • 03:28 PM: At 115km

    the lead is holding in the 3:30 to 3:45 range.

  • 03:35 PM: On the climb

    The lead group is still intact. They have extended their lead to 6:00 and are making their way up the day’s major climb. Moncoutie, who won yesterday’s stage, is clearly looking to solidify his new lead in the KOM contest.

    The men in the break are:
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto)
    Alan Perez (Euskaltel)
    Andrea Tonti (Quick Step)
    Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)
    Patrice Halgland (Credit Agricole)
    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole)
    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
    David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R)
    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)

  • 03:42 PM: Steep and narrow

    the road up the Cat. 1 Puerto de Serrablo is quite steep at points and this is a relatively narrow road. The escapees are holding on to a nice lead – around 6:00 – and staying together. They may well be interested in keeping the break intact, since there are 66km remaining in the stage once they reach the summit.

  • 03:47 PM: Reader comment/question

    David writes in to ask

    Hi there,
    It seems French cycling is slightly on the up this year (Montcoutie, Chavanel in Spain); do you see a change there or do you think it reflects a tightening of drug controls in other countries?
    We’re not sure about that, David. It could simply be a reflection of the cyclical nature of the sport. It’s been a long, long time since the French have had a superstar of the peloton (Bernard Hinault won his last Tour in 1985) and it could just be time for a resurgence. We sure hope so. It would be nice to see French cycling have a turn at it again.

  • 03:52 PM: The gap

    is holding at around 5:55. Astana apparently feels comfortable letting these boys get a bit of time, although with Martinez just 6:41 out of the lead, we don’t expect there to be much of an increase in that gap, and we can predict a lessening of their advantage over the remainder of the stage.

  • 04:04 PM: Weather at the finish

    is quite nice. It’s partly cloudy, but there is no rain and the temperatures are in the 70s.

    Meanwhile out on the road, the 12-man lead group is now coursing its way down the back side of the Cat. 1. Serrablo. The gap is now around 5:40. The peloton certainly grew in size on the way to the climb and there are no attacks out of the field.

  • 04:08 PM: The full Astana crew

    is setting tempo at the front of the peloton as they near the top of the climb. Leipheimer and Contador are both riding in protected positions and the pace is pretty moderate, since we’re not seeing any splits in the main field and there have been no attacks.

  • 04:09 PM: 6:40

    the peloton is over the top 6:40 behind the break.

    The men in the break are:
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto)
    Alan Perez (Euskaltel)
    Andrea Tonti (Quick Step)
    Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)
    Patrice Halgland (Credit Agricole)
    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole)
    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
    David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R)
    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)

  • 04:15 PM: With 54km remaining

    for the leaders, the gap is dropping a little. They now lead by 6:35.

  • 04:19 PM: A little help?

    Silence-Lotto and Cofidis are moving up in the peloton. Both teams have riders in the break, but they may want to keep the gap to a minimum. Let’s see what their riders do up in the break.

  • 04:24 PM: Caisse d’Epargne

    Is now sitting in the spot right behind the Astana team in the peloton. The chasing duties, however, are still exclusively being handled by the team of the two men atop the GC.

    Our leaders are now 45km from the finish and holding on to a healthy lead of 6:16.

  • 04:29 PM: A long and relatively mellow descent

    Both groups – the break and the peloton – are still on the long drop off of the day’s big climb.

    The road is a fairly gradual descent, with no really dicey hairpins. The leaders are now 6:10 ahead of the peloton.

    The men in the break are:
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto)
    Alan Perez (Euskaltel)
    Andrea Tonti (Quick Step)
    Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)
    Patrice Halgland (Credit Agricole)
    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole)
    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
    David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R)
    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)

  • 04:31 PM: Moncoutie

    has collected a total of 37 KOM points today. He’s now leading that contest with 78 points, to Ballan’s 51, having started the day with 41. He has a good hold on the jersey.

    Meanwhile the break he’s in is now 6:06 ahead of the main field.

  • 04:37 PM: With 36km to go

    the leaders are 6:00 ahead of the peloton.

    The men in the break are:
    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto)
    Alan Perez (Euskaltel)
    Andrea Tonti (Quick Step)
    Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)
    Patrice Halgland (Credit Agricole)
    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole)
    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
    David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R)
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

  • 04:42 PM: It looks like

    the day’s winner is going to come out of the break. Astana is not setting a furious pace and the leaders are still in the six-minute range as they hit the 30km to go mark.

  • 04:44 PM: Sastre and CSC’s plans

    We talked to Bjarne Riis this morning: “The race hasn’t been very hard yet. Contador can attack, but he hasn’t been able to really drop anyone too dramatically. Sastre had cramps yesterday, but only lost five seconds. The final week will decide everything. I think Carlos can still podium.”

    We asked Riis who will win: “Contador.”

    Then we asked Riis who is his most dangerous rival: “Leipheimer.”

    Riis said despite the imminent departure of Carlos Sastre and Gustav Larsson (confirmed to Caisse d’Epargne today), he’s not expecting to sign any big names.

    “We have a good base with the Schleck brothers, Cancellara and some young guys coming up,” he said. “That’s enough for now.”

  • 04:47 PM: Drop us a line

    As you know, you can send us a note, simply by hitting the “Contact Our Editors” link below our Live Update Window.

    We promise to read them all, answer as many as we can and even post a few of your comments in our coverage as the day progresses.

  • 04:51 PM: Zandio

    the Caisse d’Epargne man in the break who might be worth watching today. He’s not adding to the pace making – probably because his teammate Valverde is under threat from Martinez. So, Zandio is getting something of a free ride. He’s free to chase attacks, though, and may try for the win today.

    Right now, with 25km remaining the leaders have bumped their lead up to 6:30.

  • 04:53 PM: The gap

    is up to 6:43, making Martinez the virtual leader on the road, by two seconds. We can expect Astana to whittle that down, but no matter how things shake out today, the Euskaltel rider will move up into the top 10 today.

  • 04:58 PM: Contador

    Contador was happy to see his teammate in the lead: “I am very glad that Levi captured the golden jersey again. It shows that our team is very strong. What all Astana team-mates did today was amazing. Our Kazakh sponsor deserves this all. The only thing I regret is that again the time differences are so small.”

  • 05:03 PM: 20km to go

    the leaders are now 20 kilometers from the finish. The gap is still in the 6:30 range.

  • 05:13 PM: Astana

    is still setting tempo at the front. The peloton is now 19km from the finish. Our leaders are now holding on to a 7:00 lead. Is Astana just giving the jersey away?

    Martinez has grabbed 10 seconds of time at the day’s two sprint spots, so he needs to finish 6:31 ahead of the main field. Indeed, less than that if he finishes in the top three in the stage.

  • 05:16 PM: 10km to go

    our leaders are now 10km from the finish of today’s stage. They now lead by 7:50.

    As a reminder, the men in the break are:
    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto)
    Alan Perez (Euskaltel)
    Andrea Tonti (Quick Step)
    Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)
    Patrice Halgland (Credit Agricole)
    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
    Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole)
    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
    David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R)
    Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

    We could expect to see the attacks starting in the lead group. If Astana intends to keep the jersey, they will have to ramp things up over the closing kilometers.

  • 05:18 PM: With 9km to go

    the leaders are starting to take a few small digs, but no one has managed to put in a big effort.

  • 05:19 PM: 8km to go

    the gap is now nearing 8:00.

    Astana doesn’t seem too concerned about Martinez, who does not have a reputation as a dangerous climber.

  • 05:22 PM: Astana

    Bruyneel just talked to Spanish TV: “It’s difficult to control the stage today, with 12 guys up the road in the breakaway. Egoi can take the jersey now, we’ll see if it happens.”

    Up front, Moncoutie has attacked with 6km to go…. he’s caught and then he goes again!

    He’s caught again.

  • 05:23 PM: Back together

    there are some tough riders in this bunch.

    Well, one of them – Juan Antonio Flecha – has attacked.

  • 05:25 PM: Flecha is caught

    with 3km to go. He’s been pulled back by Cunego.

    Moncoutie looks ready to launch an attack. He’s eyeing the group.

  • 05:25 PM: Zandio

    gives it a dig…. He’s pulled back.

  • 05:27 PM: 1km to go

    our leaders are together, but we’re bound to see someone try.

  • 05:28 PM: Moncoutie

    tries an attack… and he’s caught. Tonti is going for it, Cunego… and Van Avermaet charges. Rebellin comes up fast, but not fast enough.

    Greg Van Avermaet takes the win! Rebellin is second and Juan Antonio Flech takes third.

    Now let’s see when the peloton comes in.

  • 05:30 PM: Now let’s watch the clock

    we may see the peloton eat up some of that gap in the closing kilometers.

    Van Avermat is a former soccer player, who appears to have found his legs in cycling.

  • 05:31 PM: Martinez

    Egoi Martinez is talking to reporters at the line: “When I went in the break today, I thought it might be possible. We really dug as hard as we could in the final kilometers when we heard that the gap was opening. It would be like a dream to take the jersey.”

  • 05:32 PM: Other teams

    CSC and Caisse d’Epargne are now pulling. They are apparently more concerned about the gap than is Astana.

  • 05:33 PM: It’s 5:42 with 1km to go

    it looks like Martinez will get the jersey.

  • 05:34 PM: He does

    Martinez is the new leader of the Vuelta a Espana.

    Leipheimer is now second on GC, trailing Martinez by 11 seconds.

    Well, this is interesting. Stay tuned for full results, photos and a complete stage report from Andrew Hood.

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