By VeloNews Interactive, and wire services
Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha defied a spirited chase and wintry weather to claim stage 4 of the sixth annual Volta Ciclista Comunidad Valencia on Friday
Bitter weather, a mixture of rain and snow, marked the stage from Alzira to Valada, and though organizers trimmed the route from 161km to 156km, the conditions nevertheless took a heavy toll on the field. Among those who abandoned were Christophe Moreau, Andreas Klöden, Erik and Thomas Dekker, and Stefano Garzelli, along with seven of Kaiku’s eight riders.
Flecha and fellow Spaniards Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears) and Rafael Casero (Saunier Duval) took an early lead over the field and built it to three minutes with 50km remaining.
But with the bunch cranking up a chase behind, Flecha set off alone up front and made it stick, crossing the finish line alone.
Nine seconds later, Flecha’s teammate, race leader Alessandro Petacchi, winner of the first two stages, took the pack sprint for second ahead of Aitor Perez (Spiuk). –Agence France Presse contributed to this report
Volta Comunidad Valencia
Stage 4, Alzira-Vallada
1. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 156km in 3:39:14
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I) Fassa Bortolo, at 0:09
3. Aitor Perez (Sp), Spiuk, s.t.
4. David Etxebarria (Sp), Liberty Seguros, s.t.
5. Antonio Colom (Sp), Illes Balears, s.t.
Petacchi (I) 15:44:44
Perez, at 0:27
Colom, at 0:31
4. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, s.t.
5. Javier Cherro (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 0:32