Cancellara Dominates Vuelta Opening Prologue Time Trial

James ThompsonCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2009

The Tour of Spain is officially on the road and opened with a 4.8-kilometer prologue time trial. The barnstorming effort made for very close racing, as the racers, who normally race for hours on end, had to prepare themselves for a five and a half minute effort.

Some riders, especially those to go first, experienced rain on the prologue course in Holland, which was actually on a Moto GP course. Riders were coming in, and times around 5:40 or less were looking to be good enough for the win.

The big guns then came to play. GC rider Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas) managed to knock the new best time down to 5:37, averaging over 50 kph. His own teammate, the sprinter Daniele Bennati, went even lower than that. 

Other GC riders made their way onto the course. They weren't necessarily looking to win the stage, but they needed to set themselves apart from their peers. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) put up a good time of the favorites at 5:39, beaten only by one second by Ivan Basso (Liquigas). 

Other contrenders like Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) went just outside the time of Evans at 5:44 while Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was right in the middle of the GC players.

With most of the GC riders settling in fairly together and keeping the time margins to a minimum for the coming stages, the stage win had to be decided.

Tom Boonen (QuickStep), the sprinter who has had a very up and down season, thought he could put up the answer and blew the time away, coming in at 5:29, roughly seven seconds faster than Basso.

However, no one could thwart the immense power of Olympic TT champ Fabian Cancellara (Saxobank), who came in at 5:20 and took the day, averaging a staggering 54 kph. 

The Swiss rider Cancellara is of course no stranger to prologue wins, having won the Tour de France prologue three times in his career, as well as many victories in longer time trials.  He is a two-time World and the reigning Olympic time trial champion and is considered to be the best TT rider on the professional circuit.

Cancellara dons the first Golden leader's jersey of the Vuelta. The sprinters though will have their say in the next few days, and with 20 second time bonuses on the line for a stage win, someone like Boonen or third-placed Tyler Farrar (Garmin) might want to take the gold jersey off Cancellara's back.