Valverde Wins Stage 3 of Vuelta
Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana) has won Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana) has won Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana. Valverde took a wet uphill sprint from Stuart O?Grady (Cofidis) and Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) to win the rolling, 157-km run from Burgos to Soria in 3:43:17. Benoit Joachim (U.S. Postal Service) has taken the overall lead from teammate Max van Heeswijk.
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The stage was ridden in the rain. An early move was chased down, but at about 40 km, Kevin Hulmans (Quick Step), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), and Andy Flickinger (Ag2r) escaped. Joachim covered the move. The quartet?s lead grew to more than nine minutes before the peloton reacted.
Saeco began to chase, and Cofidis joined the Italian squad. Despite strong winds, the escapees appeared to have a chance to stay away. With eight km left, however, the gang of four surrendered, and the bunch reeled them in.
Luca Paolini (Quick Step) attacked, but the bunch snared him. With four km left, Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) punctured, which left teammate Alexander Vinokourov in the driver?s seat for the German squad. Pedro Horillo (Quick Step) led Vinokourov, defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros), and Valverde into the sprint. Vinokourov passed Horillo, but Valverde jumped Vino for the win.
After the stage, Valverde, who was third in last year?s Vuelta, said that his team foresaw the possibility of a stage win. ?The team discussed our chances at the start today and realized that if the bunch was together at the foot of the climb I?d have a good opportunity,? said the Comunidad Valenciana rider. Valverde is a climber who can sprint, and he should both talents today.
In the overall, Joachim leads teammates Max van Heeswijk by 0:16 and Floyd Landis by 0:22. Stage 4 will probably see U.S. Postal Service keep the leader?s jersey. The slightly downhill stage from Soria to Zaragoza should end in a bunch sprint. Who will take it? Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)? Oscar Freire (Rabobank)? Max van Heeswijk (U.S. Postal Service)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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