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Ciolek wins stage 2 at Vuelta

By Andrew Hood

2009 Vuelta a España, Stage 2: Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara enjoys another day in the leader’s golden jersey.

Photo: Graham Watson

Gerald Ciolek (Milram) has been lurking on the edge of greatness ever since he came out of nowhere to beat Erik Zabel and claim the 2005 German national title as a 20-year-old neo-pro.

After winning the 2006 U23 world title, Ciolek has patiently been collecting minor wins and close calls in bigger events. He finally got his just reward in Sunday’s second stage of the 2009 Vuelta a España, a pan-flat 203.7km ride from Assen to Emmen in the Netherlands.

The German sprinter seemed to come out of nowhere as Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia-HTC fought to set up their own sprinters, Tyler Farrar and André Greipel. He shot across the line just a whisker ahead of Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas), who was a little late with his bike throw, while a surprising Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam) took third.

2009 Vuelta a España, Stage 2: Milram’s Gerald Ciolek was happy with what proved to be a tough victory.

Photo: Graham Watson

“I am very happy to win today. The form and condition was good since the Tour, but all that I was missing was a major victory,” Ciolek said. “There was some wind from the left side, I tried to keep my front wheel free for the sprint. I had to start it pretty early, but in the last meters, it was just enough to hang on to win.”

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) continues to lead the Vuelta, with Ciolek moving into second overall at eight seconds back. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is third at nine seconds.

How it unfolded

The weather was unsettled — cloudy, windy and damp — but that didn’t keep the Dutch from turning out in droves to watch the Vuelta cover the narrow, circuitous route, which was rich in road furniture, roundabouts and even a bit of pavé.

A five-man break slipped off the front at 3km and built a lead of three minutes by the 20km mark. Francisco Pérez (Andalucia-Cajasur) was best-placed at 25 seconds behind race leader Cancellara. Joining him were Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Dominik Roels (Milram), David García (Xacobeo Galicia) and Tom Leezer (Rabobank).

2009 Vuelta a España, Stage 2: A very early break indeed, this one took off at 3km.

Photo: Graham Watson

There seemed little impetus to chase on this, the first road stage of the season’s last grand tour, and the break set about expanding its advantage. By 47km, the quintet had 6:05 on the bunch, and Saxo Bank kept the leash in the six-minute range for the next 60km.

Leezer collected the KOM jersey atop the day’s lone climb, a Category 4 speed bump at 60.7km. Some 30km further along, as the gap topped seven minutes, first Garmin-Slipstream, then Quick Step chipped in, and the break’s advantage began dwindling. At 128km it was down to less than five minutes.

With the sprinters’ teams driving the chase the clock quickly started running backward, and 60km from the finish their advantage was just 3:25.

Twenty kilometers later another minute had flown. The chase was briefly disrupted by a pileup that sent a half-dozen riders to the deck 32km from the line. But with 25km to race the escapees’ margin was just a couple dozen seconds as both break and chase bounced along a dark stretch of tree-lined cobblestones.

Bye-bye, breakaway

The pavé did a job on the break — Perez fell back and Westra shot forward, trying to stay away on his own. Fifteen kilometers from the line he had less than a minute on the bunch, and a few kilometers further along the Vacansoleil rider’s day in the spotlight was over.

Then the sprinters’ trains began assembling, with Columbia-HTC moving forward for Greipel. Liquigas came up, ostensibly for Daniele Bennati, and of course Garmin and Quick Step were still at the front, for Farrar and Boonen.

2009 Vuelta a España, Stage 2: Saxo Bank mans the front for Cancellara.

Photo: Graham Watson

The bunch hit 56kph as Columbia-HTC got down to business, charging along with 3km to go, with Griepel tucked safely behind his teammates. Farrar was lurking nearby, as was Boonen.

With 1km to go Millar was drilling it at the front, and Farrar took his shot — but he went too soon, and it was Ciolek claiming the narrow win ahead of Sabatini with Hammond third. Greipel and Farrar had to settle for fourth and fifth, respectively.

“It was very nervous in the last few hundred meters. I came up to the front group with maybe 50 meters to go, maybe I went too early,” Farrar said at the line. “It was a difficult sprint. There was a lot of wind from the left. We’ll keep trying.”

Monday’s stage 3 is a 189km leg that takes a 30km swing through Germany before finishing back in Holland. It’s another flat stage, without any rated climbs; expect the sprinters to get another chance to strut their stuff.

Cancellara still golden, Vino, Sánchez gapped

Cancellara was the happy bearer of the leader’s jersey at the end of the stage. Had either Boonen or Bennati won, he would have lost the Vuelta’s golden jersey. Instead, he’s still in the lead, and intends on riding to defend once again.

“I didn’t expect that. I thought for sure Boonen or Farrar would take one of those two spots, when we saw the last few days, they were quite good at the Eneco Tour. But a sprint is kind of lottery, there’s no guarantee that you can win,” Cancellara said.

2009 Vuelta a España, Stage 2: Garmin lends a hand in the chase.

Photo: Graham Watson

“There were many sprinters today. On paper, those two looked like the best ones. I have the luck on my side. Tomorrow is another day in the jersey. It’s good for us, for our motivation, for the sponsors. We did our job today and this is the payback.”

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) was among several major names caught out as the peloton split in the closing kilometers. After his strong opening prologue, Vinokourov forfeited 18 seconds and dropped from seventh to 67th, now 36 seconds back.

Others losing 18 seconds included Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Olympic gold medalist Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel) and Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank). Andy Schleck lost 30 seconds, along with Igor Anton (Euskaltel).

Because the splits were not caused by crashes or mechanics, the gaps stand.

Photo Gallery


Stage results: | (GC standings)

  • 1. Gerald Ciolek (GER), Team Milram, at 0:4:43:12
  • 2. Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
  • 3. Roger Hammond (GBR), Cervélo TestTeam, s.t.
  • 4. André Greipel (GER), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 5. Tyler Farrar (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
  • 6. Leonardo Duque (COL), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, s.t.
  • 7. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
  • 8. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
  • 9. Davide Vigano (ITA), Fuji-Servetto, s.t.
  • 10. Sébastien Chavanel (FRA), Française des Jeux, s.t.
  • 11. Óscar Freire (ESP), Rabobank, s.t.
  • 12. Marco Marcato (ITA), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 13. Stuart O’Grady (AUS), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
  • 14. Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, s.t.
  • 15. Sébastien Hinault (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale, s.t.
  • 16. Fco. José Pacheco (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, s.t.
  • 17. Dominique Rollin (CAN), Cervélo TestTeam, s.t.
  • 18. Björn Schröder (GER), Team Milram, s.t.
  • 19. William Bonnet (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
  • 20. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO), Fuji-Servetto, s.t.
  • 21. Greg Henderson (NZL), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 22. Matti Breschel (DEN), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
  • 23. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, s.t.
  • 24. Assan Bazayev (KAZ), Astana, s.t.
  • 25. David García (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, s.t.
  • 26. Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
  • 27. Manuel Vázquez (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, s.t.
  • 28. Daniele Bennati (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
  • 29. Laurent Lefevre (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
  • 30. Thomas Danielson (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
  • 31. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, s.t.
  • 32. Christophe Brandt (BEL), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
  • 33. Jacob Fuglsang (DEN), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
  • 34. Björn Leukemans (BEL), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 35. Gabriel Rasch (NOR), Cervélo TestTeam, s.t.
  • 36. Cadel Evans (AUS), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
  • 37. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, s.t.
  • 38. Bingen Fernández (ESP), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, s.t.
  • 39. Philip Deignan (IRL), Cervélo TestTeam, s.t.
  • 40. Matteo Carrara (ITA), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 41. Matheus Pronk (NED), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 42. Michael Schär (SUI), Astana, s.t.
  • 43. Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
  • 44. Carlos Barredo (ESP), Quick Step, s.t.
  • 45. Bert Grabsch (GER), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 46. Olivier Kaisen (BEL), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
  • 47. David Herrero (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, s.t.
  • 48. Christian Knees (GER), Team Milram, s.t.
  • 49. Inaki Isasi (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
  • 50. Olivier Bonnaire (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
  • 51. Mickael Delage (FRA), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
  • 52. Eduard Vorganov (RUS), Xacobeo Galicia, s.t.
  • 53. Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA), Française des Jeux, s.t.
  • 54. Ivan Basso (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
  • 55. Kim Kirchen (LUX), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 56. Francisco PÉrez (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, s.t.
  • 57. Christophe Riblon (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale, s.t.
  • 58. Eros Capecchi (ITA), Fuji-Servetto, s.t.
  • 59. Lars Boom (NED), Rabobank, s.t.
  • 60. Vasili Kiryienka (BLR), Caisse d’Epargne, s.t.
  • 61. Koos Moerenhout (NED), Rabobank, s.t.
  • 62. Stijn Devolder (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
  • 63. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP), Astana, s.t.
  • 64. Daniel Navarro (ESP), Astana, s.t.
  • 65. Damien Monier (FRA), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, s.t.
  • 66. Imanol Erviti (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, s.t.
  • 67. Paul Voss (GER), Team Milram, s.t.
  • 68. Juan José Cobo (ESP), Fuji-Servetto, s.t.
  • 69. Rubén Pérez (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
  • 70. Julian Dean (NZL), Garmin-Slipstream, s.t.
  • 71. Bram Tankink (NED), Rabobank, s.t.
  • 72. Jens Mouris (NED), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 73. Marco Velo (ITA), Quick Step, s.t.
  • 74. Tadej Valjavec (SLO), AG2R La Mondiale, s.t.
  • 75. Marcel Sieberg (GER), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 76. Gustavo César Veloso (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, s.t.
  • 77. Johnny Hoogerland (NED), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 78. Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Liquigas, s.t.
  • 79. Michael Albasini (SUI), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 80. Vicente Reynes (ESP), Columbia-HTC, s.t.
  • 81. Mikael Cherel (FRA), Française des Jeux, s.t.
  • 82. Gonzalo Rabunal RÍos (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, s.t.
  • 83. Matteo Tosatto (ITA), Quick Step, s.t.
  • 84. Karsten Kroon (NED), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
  • 85. Damiano Cunego (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:18
  • 86. Jesús Rosendo Prado (ESP), Andalucia Cajasur, at 0:18
  • 87. J. Ángel Gómez Marchante (ESP), Cervélo TestTeam, at 0:18
  • 88. Manuel Calvente (ESP), Andalucia Cajasur, at 0:18
  • 89. Alexander Kolobnev (RUS), Team Saxo Bank, at 0:18
  • 90. Daniel Moreno (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:18
  • 91. Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:18
  • 92. Emanuele Bindi (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:18
  • 93. Pieter Weening (NED), Rabobank, at 0:18
  • 94. Maxim Iglinsky (KAZ), Astana, at 0:18
  • 95. John Gadret (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale, at 0:18
  • 96. Rein Taaramae (EST), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 0:18
  • 97. Alexander Vinokourov (KAZ), Astana, at 0:18
  • 98. Linus Gerdemann (GER), Team Milram, at 0:18
  • 99. Martin Velits (SVK), Team Milram, at 0:18
  • 100. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, at 0:18
  • 101. Xavier Florencio (ESP), Cervélo TestTeam, at 0:18
  • 102. David De La Fuente (ESP), Fuji-Servetto, at 0:18
  • 103. Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE), Fuji-Servetto, at 0:18
  • 104. Sandy Casar (FRA), Française des Jeux, at 0:18
  • 105. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), Garmin-Slipstream, at 0:18
  • 106. Ludovic Turpin (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale, at 0:18
  • 107. Alexander Efimkin (RUS), AG2R La Mondiale, at 0:18
  • 108. Lieuwe Westra (NED), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, at 0:18
  • 109. Paul Martens (GER), Rabobank, at 0:18
  • 110. Juan Manuel Garate (ESP), Rabobank, at 0:18
  • 111. Kevin De Weert (BEL), Quick Step, at 0:18
  • 112. Frank Schleck (LUX), Team Saxo Bank, at 0:18
  • 113. Aitor Hernández (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:18
  • 114. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:18
  • 115. Simon Gerrans (AUS), Cervélo TestTeam, at 0:18
  • 116. Franck Bouyer (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, at 0:18
  • 117. Timothy Gudsell (NZL), Française des Jeux, at 0:18
  • 118. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:18
  • 119. Maciej Bodnar (POL), Liquigas, at 0:18
  • 120. Wouter Weylandt (BEL), Quick Step, at 0:24
  • 121. Vitaliy Buts (UKR), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:24
  • 122. David Millar (GBR), Garmin-Slipstream, at 0:27
  • 123. Alan Pérez (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:29
  • 124. Jean-Eudes Demaret (FRA), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 0:30
  • 125. Mickaël Buffaz (FRA), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 0:30
  • 126. Amaël Moinard (FRA), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 0:30
  • 127. Anthony Roux (FRA), Française des Jeux, at 0:30
  • 128. Francis De Greef (BEL), Silence-Lotto, at 0:30
  • 129. Iñigo Cuesta (ESP), Cervélo TestTeam, at 0:30
  • 130. Markel Irizar (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:30
  • 131. Gustavo Domínguez (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, at 0:30
  • 132. Serafín MartÍnez Acevedo (ESP), Xacobeo Galicia, at 0:30
  • 133. José Luis Rubiera (ESP), Astana, at 0:30
  • 134. Sylvester Szmyd (POL), Liquigas, at 0:30
  • 135. Igor Anton (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:30
  • 136. Jesús Del Nero (ESP), Fuji-Servetto, at 0:30
  • 137. Christian Meier (CAN), Garmin-Slipstream, at 0:30
  • 138. Arnaud Gerard (FRA), Française des Jeux, at 0:30
  • 139. Amets Txurruka (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:30
  • 140. Damien Gaudin (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, at 0:30
  • 141. David Moncoutie (FRA), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 0:30
  • 142. Wesley Sulzberger (AUS), Française des Jeux, at 0:30
  • 143. Andy Schleck (LUX), Team Saxo Bank, at 0:30
  • 144. Matthieu Sprick (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, at 0:30
  • 145. José Luis Arrieta (ESP), AG2R La Mondiale, at 0:30
  • 146. Enrico Gasparotto (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:30
  • 147. Kjell Carlström (FIN), Liquigas, at 0:30
  • 148. Oliver Zaugg (SUI), Liquigas, at 0:30
  • 149. Massimiliano Mori (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:30
  • 150. Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU), Cervélo TestTeam, at 0:30
  • 151. Matthias Russ (GER), Team Milram, at 0:30
  • 152. Sergio DomÍnguez (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, at 0:30
  • 153. Julien Loubet (FRA), AG2R La Mondiale, at 0:30
  • 154. Francesco Tomei (ITA), Lampre-N.G.C, at 0:30
  • 155. Aitor Pérez Arrieta (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, at 0:30
  • 156. Beñat Intxausti (ESP), Fuji-Servetto, at 0:30
  • 157. David López (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:30
  • 158. Svein Tuft (CAN), Garmin-Slipstream, at 0:30
  • 159. Antonio Piedra (ESP), Andalucia Cajasur, at 0:30
  • 160. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA), AG2R La Mondiale, at 0:30
  • 161. Jesús Hernández Blázquez (ESP), Astana, at 0:30
  • 162. J. Vicente García Acosta (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:30
  • 163. Adam Hansen (AUS), Columbia-HTC, at 0:40
  • 164. Javier Benitez (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, at 0:51
  • 165. Adrián Palomares (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, at 0:56
  • 166. Xabier Zandio (ESP), Caisse d’Epargne, at 1:00
  • 167. Giovanni Bernaudeau (FRA), Bbox Bouygues Telecom, at 0:01:00
  • 168. Mikel Gaztañaga (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, at 1:00
  • 169. Óscar García Casarrubios (ESP), Contentpolis-Ampo, at 0:01:00
  • 170. Javier Ramírez Abeja (ESP), Andalucia Cajasur, at 1:00
  • 171. Tom Leezer (NED), Rabobank, at 1:00
  • 172. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (NOR), Team Saxo Bank, at 1:00
  • 173. Charles Wegelius (GBR), Silence-Lotto, at 1:00

GC standings | ( Stage results)