For a second day, the sprint finish at the Vuelta a Espana threw up a surprise result with the big names being well beaten by New Zealand’s Greg Henderson (Columbia-HTC) on stage three.
The Kiwi is a key part of Andrei Greipel’s lead out train but when a late chicane reshuffled the front of the bunch and caught out Greipel, Henderson took over. He cleverly followed Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) down the finishing straight and then perfectly timed his surge to the line.
He beat Bozic, with Oscar Freire (Rabobank) finally showing signs of life in third place. All the other sprinters were spread across the top 20. Greipel was fourth, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) sixth, Stuart O’Grady (Saxo Bank) ninth, Tyler Farrar (Garmin) 11th and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) 13th.
Britain’s Roger Hammond (Cervelo) finished seventh and continues to impress with the way he mixes it up with the sprinters.
Prologue time trial winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) finished safely in the bunch and so kept the overall lead, with Henderson moving up to second at six seconds, thanks to the 20-second winner’s time bonus.
“We were setting up the sprint for Greipel,” Henderson admitted.
“All day we were saying, ‘Let’s set it up for Andre’. But then just after a kilometre to go, there was a sharp corner and Vacansoleil came flying through. I was waiting and looking for Greipel but it was 150 metres to go so I thought I’d better go myself.”
The stage was a classic day at the Vuelta, with nothing much happening until the final fireworks.
Lars Boom (Rabobank), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Jesus Rosendo (Andalucia-Cajasur) jumped away after two kilometres but they knew they would get caught and were reeled in one by one as the bunch finally awoke in the final 20km.
Garmin, Quick Step and Columbia shared the lead out work but the Vacansoleil pair proved that none of the teams seem to have the muscle to control the sprints at the Vuelta. It was a clever move to blast through the late chicane, but they were a man missing and ran out of steam, perfectly setting up Henderson for Team Columbia’s 72nd win of the season.
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On Tuesday, the race heads south to Liege, Belgium, before heading even further south to Spain after Wednesday’s first rest day.
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Stage three, Zutphen-Venlo, 189.7km
1. Greg Henderson (NZ) Columbia-HTC in 4-41-01
2. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil
3. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
4. Andre Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTC
5. William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
6. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
7. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo
8. Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step
9. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank
10. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto all same time.
Overall classification after stage three
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2. Greg Henderson (NZ) Columbia-HTC at 6 sec
3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram at 8sec
4. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 9sec
5. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 12sec
6. Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil at 14sec
7. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank at 16sec
8. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 16sec
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 17sec
10. David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia at 18sec
26. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 24sec
Greg Henderson sneaks in for a sprint win in the race’s final Netherlands finish
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
a Espana 2009, stage one photo gallery by Graham
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Cycling Weekly’s full coverage, the hub
Vuelta 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