Rabon completes Murcia victory

Eurosport - Sat, 06 Mar 19:43:00 2010

Frantisek Rabon of HTC-Columbia completed a comfortable win in the Vuelta a Murcia, with Theo Bos of Cervelo Test Team taking the honours in the 121km final stage.

2010 Tour de Murcie Frantisek Rabon (Columbia) - 0

Rabon had taken control of the overall standings after winning Saturday's time trial, and never looked in danger of giving up his advantage.

Denis Menchov, Rabon's nearest challenger in the general classification, suffered a puncture with 30km left of the stage, but was propelled back into the peloton by his Rabobank team-mates to secure second ahead of Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).

Menchov completed the race 38 seconds behind Rabon, with Wiggins a further 15 seconds back. Lance Armstrong finished in the bunch to take seventh place, one minute 23 seconds behind the winner.

In the final stage Dutch rider Bos won the sprint to the line ahead of Rabobank's Graeme Brown and Team Netapp's Daniel Schorn.

STAGE FOUR

HTC-Columbia's Frantisek Rabon has moved into the overall lead of the Tour of Murcia in Spain thanks to a convincing victory in stage four's individual time trial.

Rabon finished 33 seconds ahead of Russia's Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and 48 seconds ahead of Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) in a flat 22 kilometre course at Alhama de Murcia.

With just one stage of the Tour of Murcia remaining, HTC-Columbia's Czech rider now leads by 38 seconds from Menchov and has 53 on Wiggins.

The winner of the same time trial in Murcia in  2009, Rabon said later "my performance was pretty similar, but I think the big difference overall is that last year after winning the time trial I got dropped on the mountains the following day.

"This time we've already had the race's most mountainous stage and I got through fine.

"I was feeling confident because I'd done pretty well in my previous race, the Tour of the Algarve, where I was seventh overall. I was third last rider to start, which was an advantage because I had time references on my rivals and knew when I had to go faster."

Rabon said the the time trial was "like last year's course, just six kilometres longer, so my approach was almost the same."

As for the overall, Rabon is optimistic, because "although some of the other teams will try to attack me on the last stage, and of course it can be dangerous, I've already shown I'm pretty strong in the climbs. We've got a good team here, so if everything goes well I'll be able to hold on."

Rabon's victory in the Tour of Murcia is the tenth of the 2010 season for HTC-Columbia men's team.

STAGE THREE

Milram's Luke Roberts won the third stage of the Tour of Murcia in Spain after leader Robbie Hunter abandoned the race to rush to his wife's side for the birth of his second child.

Astana's Josep Jufre, who finished third, took overall lead of the race.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) made an early break with nine riders early on, only to be reeled in, but Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Michal Kwiatkowski (Caja Rural), Jan Barta (NetApp) and Marcel Barth (German Team) were more successful, building a lead of nine minutes as they passed the 50km mark.

Minutes after the four had begun the climb into the Category 3 Alto de Pliego, race leader Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) pulled out to be with his wife, who had just gone into labour.

As the climb to the Category 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo began, the leaders' advantage had almost disappeared, and it was the quintet of Wouter Poels and Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil), Peter Weening (Rabobank), Astana's Josep Jufre and Stefan Denifl (Cervelo TestTeam) who dashed to the finish.

With six kilometres remaining, they held a 25-second advantage, but this was reduced to just 10 seconds within three kilometres and the five were eventually swept up on the approach to the final kilometre.

In the end, it was Roberts who prevailed as he crossed the line ahead of Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) and new race leader, Jufre (Astana).

STAGE TWO REPORT

Garmin-Transitions rider Robbie Hunter won the second stage of the Tour of Murcia in Spain to maintain his overall lead.

The South African headed an identical podium to Wednesday's opening stage, with Graeme Brown (Rabobank) second and Vicente Reynes (HTC-Columbia) third.

Alexandre Blain of Endura kept the intermediate sprinter's blue jersey with fourth position while his team-mate Ian Wilkinson of Britain took eighth to go sixth overall.

Vacansoleil's breakaway rider Sergey Lagutin was caught with 10km to go after two climbs up the category one Alto de San Juan, leading to a second sprint finish.

Briton Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky suffered a wheel change in the final five kilometres but recovered to finish five seconds behind the leader in the second group.

There are five stages in the race, including a 166.5km hilly stage three on Friday.

STAGE ONE REPORT

Robbie Hunter sprinted to victory in the Tour of Murcia's opening stage, taking his first win of the season and the US ProTour team's first on European soil.

South African Garmin-Transitions rider beat both Rabobank's Graeme Brown and HTC-Columbia's Vicente Reyens at the finish in San Pedro del Pinatar, denying Brown the opportunity to win Murcia's first stage for the second consecutive year.

Hunter's teammate Danny Pate was involved in the break of the day after 11km, along with Endura Racing's Alexandre Blain, and with Ruben Reig and Lieuwe Westra joining them later, the four were 5:15 ahead of the field after 26 km.

However, the peloton chipped away at their lead, and ultimately absorbed them within 20 km to the finish after 135km of freedom.

Blain claimed the intermediate sprint jersey along the way for his British team. 

"I decided with the wind and the climbs today that I would go on the attack," he said. "I wanted the Meta Volantes jersey and I took that today.

"It shows that we are not just here for show, but that we came to race."

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