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Beñat Intxausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi) lived up to expectations to win Friday’s afternoon time trial and slip into the overall lead at the Vuelta a Asturias in northern Spain.
The highly touted Basque rider bested the field in the 14.2km course in Castrillón to claim his first professional victory. He paced to a time of 17 minutes, 6 seconds to win by 17 seconds faster than teammate Jonathan Castroviejo and 19 seconds faster than overnight leader Angel Vicioso (Andalucía-CajaSur) by 19 seconds.
That was just enough for the 24-year-old Intxausti to slip into the overall lead. Vicioso slips into second at four seconds back with José Herrera (Caja Rural) in third at 26 seconds back.
Intxausti, who turned pro with Scott-American beef in 2008, has been on a tear of late, with 10th at Critérium International, sixth at GP Miguel Indurain and third overall at the Vuelta al País Vasco.
In the morning sector, Joaquín Sobrino (Spanish national team) won in a bunch sprint in the 88km course from Gijón to Aviles.
A two-man breakaway was reeled in with just two kilometers to go and Sobrino made the most of the opportunity, out-kicking Javi Moreno (Andalucía-CajaSur) and Enrique Mata (Footon-Servetto) to snag the victory in a photo-finish.
The 54th Asturias tour continues Saturday with the decisive mountain-top finish. The 168.8km fourth stage starts along the coast at the Cafés Toscaf factory and ends atop the Cat. 1 Alto del Acebo.