Vuelta a Murcia Results - Stage 3
Van Heeswijk strikes again.
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With a strong final lead out by Lance Armstrong, Dutchman Max van Heeswijk (US Postal) continued his amazing start to the 2004 season today by winning the third stage of the Tour of Murcia in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Armstrong finished 23rd in the stage, one second back of van Heeswijk, and maintained his overall position of second place heading into tomorrow's decisive fourth stage from Totana to Alto Collado Bermejo. Jan Ullrich is behind the overall race leader.
"Last year I gained my confidence back and was able to trust myself again after some good rides in the Classics and the first part of the season," van Heeswijk said. "I continued to have good feelings this year at training camp and feel very comfortable that the team has given me its trust. I have never felt this good before."
Van Heeswijk topped T-Mobile's Erik Zabel to win the 156.4 kilometer stage in .
"The sprint was a bit uphill and I have had some success in the past with uphill sprint finishes," van Heeswijk said. "Three of my four wins this year have been on uphill sprint finishes. Only Monday's stage was a flat finish (and the victory) came as a surprise to me."
Van Heeswijk hopes to bring his winning form to next month's Classics and World Cup events.
"That is my goal," van Heeswijk said. "These wins are all very nice but my big goal is Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of
Van Heeswijk's teammates are even tabbing him as a favorite for Milan-San Remo, the opening race of the World Cup calendar set for March 20.
"We'll see," said van Heeswijk. "I am climbing very well now, much better than last year, and Lance and Johan (Bruyneel, the
Regarding Armstrong's lead out in today's stage, van Heeswijk added, "Lance pulled very hard the last few hundred meters and provided me with a very good lead out. He said it had been a long time since he last did a lead out but it was perfect. He went really hard into the last corner. He's a great champion."
March 5, 2004: Stage 3: Yecla - Yecla (156 km):
1 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor 03:32:23
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
3 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 0.01
4 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5 Miguel A M.Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Jos? Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Com.Valenciana-Kelme
8 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Relax-Bodysol
9 Carlos Torrent (Spa) Costa Almeria-Paternina
10 Bj?rn Leukemans (Bel) Mrbookmaker.com-Palmans
11 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre
12 Unai Yus (Spa) Brioches La Boulangere