Vuelta 15: sonic Boom hits Córdoba

Former 'cross world champ breaks away for victory in Spain

Former world champion cyclo-cross racer Lars Boom (Rabobank) won the 168km stage 15 of the 2009 Vuelta a España with a commanding breakaway victory between Jaén and Córdoba Monday.

The 23-year-old broke away from the rest of the peloton on the second of two trips up the category two climb of Alto de San Jeronimo to cross the finish line more than 90 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, David Herrero of Xacobeo Galicia.

Dominik Roels of Milram came in third in the stage, which offered a bit of a respite to riders following three consecutive mountaintop finishes.

The main group of race leader Alejandro Valverde, of Caisse d'Epargne, crossed over the finish 25 minutes later to retain the gold jersey with a 31 second lead on main rival, Dutchman Robert Gesink of Rabobank.

Spain's Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez, of Euskaltel, is third overall at 1:10 with Italian Ivan Basso (Liquigas) fourth at 1:28 and Australian Cadel Evans of Silence fifth at 1:51.

Valverde, who has never won a major three-week Tour, is now expected to keep a tight grip on the race until the potential decider - the penultimate stage time trial over 26km in Toledo on Saturday.

The Tour resumes on Tuesday with a 170.3-kilometre ride from Cordoba to Puertollano that includes two third category climbs early in the route. It features two climbs, the category three-rated Alto de los Villares and Puerto de la Chimorra in the first 50 kilometres and could see an early breakaway.

The three-week race, the third major Tour of the year after the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, wraps up in Madrid on Sunday.

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