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2012 La Vuelta - Stage 9
By Mark Sharon
Date: 8/26/2012
2012 La Vuelta - Stage 9

Andorra - Barcelona, 196.3 Km.

Phillipe Gilbert (BMC) has waited a year for a victory, and saw has moment come on the streets of Barcelona taking stage 9.

After 18 victories in 2011 and the promise of more in 2012 Gilbert has instead had a disastrous year, until today. Gilbert timed his race and return to form perfectly to claim victory in an easy two-man sprint from Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha, seven seconds ahead of a group led hope by Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).

At the finish, looking as much relieved as pleased Gilbert said:

"It's already been one year since I won last time. It's very long and I am really happy to win in the jersey of BMC. It is a special victory for me because I had a hard season behind me. I was fighting and I get a lot of critics from the Belgian press. I never answered but on the bike I was still fighting from the beginning of the season to bring this shape back. Since the start of the. Vuelta I am really good. It was the first opportunity for me with a perfect finish."

Gilbert and Rodriguez seized their opportunity on the start the ascent to cat. 3 Montjuic climb: 1.1 km with 8.1% average gradient just 5km from the finish. Alberto CONTADOR (Team Saxo Bank)) attacked first, but Sky took control to pull him back in. Alessandro BALLAN then went for broke with Rodriguez then Gilbert in pursuit.

Ballan wasn't able to maintain the pace and blew-up to leave Rodriguez and Gilbert to build up a lead. Nicholas Roche followed by Tiralongo mounted reactions but not enough to thwart the result.

Rodriguez initially contested the sprint but once he knew that the pair would hold off the chasers he seemed content to have driven another 20 seconds in the gap back to Chris Froome (Sky).

Froome now lies 53 seconds behind in second place with Contador in third 7 seconds back.

Top 10 - Stage 9

1. Philippe GILBERT (041) - 04:45:28
2. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER (101) - at same time
3. Paolo TIRALONGO (038) at 00:07
4. Tomasz MARCZYNSKI (216) at 00:09
5. Daniele BENNATI (173) at 00:09
6. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE (009) at 00:09
7. Nacer BOUHANNI (084) at 00:09
8. Gorka VERDUGO MARCOTEGUI (079) at 00:12
9. Gianni MEERSMAN (136) at 00:12
10. Igor ANTON HERNANDEZ (071) at 00:12

Top 10 - Overall

1. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER (101) - 34:44:55
2. Christopher FROOME (181) at 00:53
3. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO (201) at 01:00
4. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE (009) at 01:07
5. Robert GESINK (161) at 02:01
6. Daniel MORENO FERNANDEZ (107) at 02:08
7. Nicolas ROCHE (019) at 02:34
8. Igor ANTON HERNANDEZ (071) at 03:07
9. Laurens TEN DAM (168) at 03:18
10. Bauke MOLLEMA (166) at 03:27

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