Alexandre Vinoukourov Wins Stage 3 of 2011 Tour of Basque Country
Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov won stage three of the Tour of the Basque Country 2011 earlier today.
Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov produced a decisive break to land his first Tour of the Basque Country stage win this past afternoon.
In an attack reminiscent of his successful solo move to win stage 13 of last year's Tour de France, Vinokourov sheered off the front with five kilometres to go of stage three.
Oscar Freire of Spain and Team Rabobank led in the bunch sprint a few seconds later to take second place, with German Paul Martens in third.
Pounding over the rolling roads to Zuia-Murgia, 37-year-old Vinokourov crossed the finish line pointing repeatedly to his chest.
"It's a very big win for me, my first ever in the Basque Country after all these years as a pro, but equally important for the team," Vinokourov told reporters after crossing the finish line.
"We'd tried setting things up for our team sprinter today, but the race just fell to bits in the last part of the course."
Asked if it reminded him of his 2010 Tour de France stage win, the normally taciturn Kazakh flashed a rare smile and said "they [his victories] are all like that these days, aren't they?"
He downplayed his chances of adding an overall title in the Basque Country to his career wins in week-long races of the calibre of Paris-Nice, the Dauphine Libere and the Tours of Germany and Switzerland.
"I'm going better than I was in Paris-Nice this year, but after yesterday, when I didn't do so well in the final climb, I've still got work to do.
"If I can finish in the top five overall, I'll be happy."
A tenth place finish on the stage enabled Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez to regain the leader's jersey, but the Katusha rider remains tied on time with Germany's Andreas Klöden (Team RadioShack) and Spain's Samuel Sanchez (Team Euskaltel).
"Tomorrow (Thursday) is the toughest stage of the lot, and I know I'll lose time in the final time trial [on Saturday], so I'll have to make it really count," Rodriguez told reporters.
"Getting time tomorrow is the only way I can win."
The Tour of the Basque Country 2011 finishes on Saturday with an individual time trial in Zalla.
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Click here for complete stage 3 results.