David Millar finished an excellent second in the Tour of Spain's first big time trial stage in Valencia, won by Fabian Cancellara.
Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) was at the top of the leader board almost until the end of the day's racing, beating one key contender, World Time Trial Champion Bert Grabsch (Columbia-HTC) by four seconds.
Just as in Assen a week ago, Millar had to combat heavy rain and gusting winds in the 30 kilometre time trial in Valencia. But unlike in Holland, those conditions did not change throughout the afternoon's racing, distorting the results.
Instead the Scot's strong performance saw him initially taking the best intermediate times at each checkpoint on the ultra-flat, exposed course.
Millar finally crossed the finishing line in Valencia's Formula One circuit with a provisional best time of 37 minutes 13 seconds, and for a long time it looked as if the Briton would finally take his first victory since the Time Trial National's back in 2007.
However, Cancellara was the top favourite for the stage and he lived up to those expectations with a vengeance.
Already the winner in Assen's opening prologue, the Olympic and multiple World Time Trial Champion, Cancellara was slightly slower than Millar - four seconds down - at the initial checkpoint.
But the Swiss specialist clearly had been holding back his effort for the time trial's second half, because he simply flew in the final 20 kilometres and finished 32 seconds faster than Millar.
"I was inspired by all those Formula One races on this circuit," the Saxo Bank pro said later, who also regained the overall lead.
However, on tomorrow's stage to Aitana, the Vuelta's first summit finish, it would seem more than likely that Cancellara will lose the lead again - and we'll finally start to see who is really in with a chance of winning the race overall.
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Stage seven, Valencia-Valencia, 30km ITT
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank in 36-41
2. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 32sec
3. Bert Grabsch (Ger) Columbia-HTC at 36sec
4. David Herrero (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia at 40sec
5. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne at 46sec
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 47sec
7. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 50sec
8. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r at 53sec
9. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank at 59sec
10. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 1-02
Overall classification after stage seven
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 51sec
3. David Herrero (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia at 59sec
4. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 1-03
5. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne at 1-08
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 1-12
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne at 1-14
8. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-19
9. Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-20
10. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-20
David Millar on his way to a fine second place in the TT
Cancellara: Back in gold
Stage six: Bozic surprises sprint rivals to win
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four: Greipel wins in Liege
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three: Henderson takes surprise win
Vuelta a Espana 2009, stage three photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Stage two: Ciolek takes first sprint stage, Hammond third
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one: Cancellara wins Vuelta opener
Vuelta a Espana 2009, stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Cycling Weekly's full coverage, the hubVuelta a Espana 2009: Who will win?
Vinokourov back with Astana for the Vuelta
Britain and Ireland well represented in Vuelta
2009 Vuelta route favours climbers
Cycling Weekly's Rider Profiles: Index
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