Philippe Gilbert’s late season return to form has arrived at just the right time.
The Belgian has struggled all year to find the form that saw him finish 2011 as the world number one, and with an Ardennes Classics hat-trick on his palmares.
In winning his second stage of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana, Gilbert showed he remains deadly in an uphill sprint, and by finihsing ahead of Valverde and Rodriguez showed the Spaniards that may not having things all their own way at the world road race championships in Limburg.
Our man, Stefano Sirotti, was close to the action as it unfolded to bring you these images.
Contarode makes a final check before beginning his first stage of the 2012 Vuelta in the red jersey of race leader
Contador wasn’t the only Spanish Grand Tour champion present. Pedro Delgado signed autographs
The three Amigos: the Spanish riders have enjoyed a hugely successful Vuelta
The effort of the sprint is obvious in this picture of Rodriguez, Gilbert, and Rodriguez
Contador ended the day as he had begun: in the red jersey of race leader