Columbia-HTC's Henderson wins, Hammond seventh...

Image © Unipublic

Vuelta 2009 Stage 3: Zutphen-Venlo, 190KM

Kiwi Greg Henderson proved that even without Mark Cavendish, Columbia-HTC remain the team to beat in grand tour sprint finishes, taking the plaudits after a bunch sprint in Venlo on a gloriously sunny afternoon in The Netherlands. The time bonus put the New Zealander second in the general classification behind Team Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara.

Meanwhile, Britain's Roger Hammond's excellent start to the Vuelta continued, the Cervélo TestTeam rider following yesterday's third place with seventh today.

Shortly after the start in Zutphen, three riders – the Spaniard, Jesus Rosendo, of the Andalucia-Cajasur team, and Dutchmen Lars Boom of Rabobank and Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil, went off the front of the peloton and built up a lead of almost ten minutes by the 30-kilometre mark.

However, by the time the race crossed the German border with 100 kilometres to go, Milram, Garmin-Slipstream and Quick Step were starting to force the pace at the front of the peloton, halving the three breakaway riders’ lead over the next 30 kilometres as the Vuelta headed back into The Netherlands.

With 20 kilometres to go, two of the three escapees had been brought back into the peloton, Rosendo managing to keep ahead on his own for a further six kilometres as the strong sprinting teams jockeyed for position ahead of the entry into Venlo.

With three kilometres left, Columbia-HTC had moved to the front, with Rabobank's Oscar Freire and Quick Step's Tom Boonen also well positioned, finishing third and sixth, respectively. Garmin-Slipstream sprinter Tyler Farrar, who hit a problem 20 kilometres out requiring him to be paced back to the main field, not helped by his lead-out man Julian Dean puncturing shortly after, made it back through the field to finish 11th.

Tomorrow’s 225-kilometre Stage 4 takes the riders from Venlo to the Belgian city of Liege and has a distinctly classic flavour, taking in parts of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold routes, including the infamous Cauberg climb. Wednesday has been designated a rest day as the race heads down to Spain for Thursday's Stage 5 start in Tarragona.

Top 20 Vuelta 2009, Stage 3

1) Greg Henderson (Columbia-HTC)             4:41:01
2) Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil)
3) Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
4) André Greipel (Columbia-HTC)
5) William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
6) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
7) Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam)
8) Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step)
9) Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank)
10) Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto)
11) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream)
12) Fco. José Pacheco (Contentpolis-Ampo)
13) Daniele Bennati (Liquigas)
14) Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux)
15) Leonardo Duque (Cofidis)
16) Enrico Gasparotto (Lampre-NGC)
17) Marcel Sieberg (Columbia-HTC)
18) Vitaliy Buts (Lampre-NGC)
19) Gerald Ciolek (Milram)
20) Tom Leezer (Rabobank)

Top 10 General Classification after Stage 3

1) Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)       9:29:23
2) Greg Henderson (Columbia-HTC)       0:00:06
3) Gerald Ciolek (Milram)              0:00:08
4) Tom Boonen (Quick Step)             0:00:09
5) Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream)    0:00:12
6) Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil)           0:00:14
7) Lars Boom (Rabobank)                0:00:16
8) Daniele Bennati (Liquigas)          0:00:16
9) Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas)          0:00:17
10) David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia)     0:00:18


Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.