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Vuelta a Espana stage nine: photo gallery

Stage nine of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana saw Philippe Gilbert return to the top step of the podium.

The Belgian national time trial champion scored his first win for BMC Racing, an extraordinary period given the stellar form he exhbited last year on his way to an Ardennes Classics hat-trick and UCI world number one status.

Second place for Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) will not be as satisfying as victory, but  is certainly more significant than the Belgian’s victory, gaining him an eight second bonus to add to the 12 seconds won on the road from close rivals, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador.

The riders will enjoy a rest day on Monday (27) where thoughts will surely turn to Wednesday’s time trial.

Here’s a gallery of stunning images from stage nine courtesy of UCI WorldTour photographer, Stefanno Sirotti.

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Gaudi’s Sagrada Família provided an impressive backdrop to the racing on stage nine from Andorra to Barcelona

Philippe Gilbert (left) and Joaquim Rodriguez staged a close finish, with victory going to the Belgian

Victory in BMC colours had been a long time coming for Gilbert. Teammate,  Mauro Santambrogio, looks equally pleased

Paolo Tiralongo was third home ahead of a pack that includes Valverde, Contador, and Froome 

Rodriguez earned another trip to the podium in perhaps his most significant performance of the race so far

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