Ventoso Wins Stage 3 of Vuelta
Francisco Jose Ventoso (Saunier Duval) is the surprise winner of Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Francisco Jose Ventoso (Saunier Duval) is the surprise winner of Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana. Ventoso took a bunch sprint from Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Stuart O?Grady (CSC) to snare the flat, 220-km run from Cordoba to Almendralejo in 5:43:45. Hushovd remains the maillot oro .<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The riders endured extreme heat (about 40 degrees Celsius). Nonetheless, some aggression occurred early. After six km, David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval), Enrico Franzoi (Lampre), and Herve Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis) sallied off of the front. The trio forged a 7:46 lead before Credit Agricole began to ride tempo.
Gradually, the bunch reduced the break?s advantage. At 167 km, with the gap down to 5:09, Duclos-Lassalle punctured, but his companions waited for him. Davitamon and Milram joined Credit Agricole at the front, and the bunch was with 3:30 of the break at 185 km.
With 16 km remaining, De La Fuente and Franzoi dropped Duclos-Lassalle. The peloton, however, was in hot pursuit and reeled in the pair 10 km later.
The sprinters? teams, particularly Quick Step and Milram, battled for position. With one km remaining, David Millar (Saunier Duval) attacked. With 500 m left, the bunch reeled him in.
Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon) led out teammate Robbie McEwen. With 100 m left, however, Ventoso led the charge past the Australian. McEwen settled for fifth place behind Ventoso, Hushovd, O?Grady, and Erik Zabel (Milram).
In the overall, Hushovd leads O?Grady by 0:11 and Ventoso by 0:12. Stage 3 should see an outcome similar to today?s. The flat, 142-km ride from Almendralejo to Caceres should end in a bunch sprint. Who will win it? McEwen? Hushovd? O?Grady? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!