Britain's Roger Hammond has settled in to his first ever grand tour outing with two top ten places in the first three stages of the 2009 Vuelta a Espana.
The Cervelo pro was third on stage two and seventh on stage three, and Tuesday's stage to Liege in Belgium should again suit Hammond's riding style perfectly with the possibility of another top ten.
Hammond was well-placed for the sprint at the end of Monday's stage to Venlo won by Greg Henderson (Columbia-HTC) before things got chaotic: "Until the roundabout with 1.5km to go, it was absolutely perfect, with [Andre] Greipel on the wheel of the Columbia train, Boonen, then me," Hammond said after the stage.
"On that last corner, [Borut] Bozic and Marcato came through. Bozic made it, but [Marco] Marcato was absolutely useless, he chopped, couldn't hold the wheel, then Boonen and I had to close the gap with 800 metres to go. We had already done our sprint with 500 metres, and then everyone else started."
"I wasn't really thinking about today's stage, because yesterday's stage was quite hard in the final 40 kilometres and that strings it out a little bit more and it's selective before the final sprint. Today there was a lot of headwind, so everybody thinks they can be a winner.
"With a headwind like that, everyone keeps coming past, so you use so much energy in the final 20 kilometres just passing climbers who are trying not to lose GC time."
Henderson wins stage three
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
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Cycling Weekly's Rider Profiles: Index
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