Simon Gerrans continued Cervélo's great debut season with a classy win from a day-long breakaway, the first in the 2009 Vuelta that managed to make it to the finish. Alejandro Valverde leads for a second successive day.
Gerrans formed part of a 19-man break that split apart on the second category Col de la Cuesta del Gallo close to the finish in Murcia. Just five kilometres long and not a difficult climb by any means, the ultra-fast and dangerous descent proved to be much more decisive in the stage's outcome
First to make a move was Germany's Linus Gerdemann (Milram), and the 2007 Tour de France stage winner rode up almost all of the climb before being caught by Fuji-Servetto's Beñat Intxausti.
However, first Intxausti and then Gerdemann, who punctured, came a cropper on the Cresta del Gallo's badly-surfaced descent. As a result, a four-man group containing Gerrans, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Jakob Fugslang (SaxoBank) made it to the front with around seven kilometres to go.
"Vinokourov was trying his best to get away in the last part of the stage," Gerrans told Cycling Weekly afterwards, "but he wasn't able to do it, we kept him under control."
"I wanted it to come down to a sprint for the line and that's what happened."
Hesjedal made two digs in the final kilometre, but Gerrans was clearly in control of the situation and came round the Canadian for a comfortable win.
Gerrans' Vuelta victory means he has now won a stage in all three major Tours, something he recognised was "important to do. Taking this win completes the set, it's a special kind of hat-trick."
If his present is looking good, when asked about his future - he has been linked to Sky for 2010 - Gerrans said with a smile: "no comment, it's a big secret."
The overall saw no major changes, with all of the top 20 general classification riders finishing in a group around 3-42. Valverde got huge cheers as he went up on the podium to get the leader's jersey, as could be expected given Murcia is his home town. Outside Spain, though, his continuing presence in the peloton, let alone leading the Vuelta, continues to draw much more mixed reactions.
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Stage 10, Alicante-Murcia, 162km
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervelo in 3-56-19
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Slipstream
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at same time
5. Adam Hansen (Aus) Columbia-HTC at 29sec
6. Francisco Perez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne at 31sec
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 37sec
8. Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank at 39sec
9. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Francaise des Jeux
10. Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step at same time.
Overall classification after stage 10
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne in 40-26-41
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 7sec
3. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 36sec
4. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 51sec
5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 53sec
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-03
7. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 2-04
8. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia at 2-24
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana at 3-01
10. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r La Mondiale at 3-13
Simon Gerrans joins the elite group of riders to have won a stage in all three grand tours
Alejandro Valverde kept his race lead
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Stage reports
Stage nine: Cesar wins as Valverde leads in Vuelta
Stage eight: Cunego takes first mountain stage of 2009 Vuelta
Stage seven: Cancellara outpaces Millar in TT
Stage six: Bozic surprises sprint rivals to take win
Stage five: Greipel wins again and takes race lead
Stage four: Greipel wins after big crash wipes out bunch
Stage three: Henderson wins stage
Stage two: Ciolek takes first road stage, Hammond third
Stage one: Cancellara wins Vuelta opener
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Photos
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham WatsonStage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
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