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By Andrew Hood
Cofidis’ David Millar roared to his third time trial victory of the season in Thursday’s 14.4km fourth stage of the Vuelta a Burgos while iBanesto.com’s Pablo Lastras all but sewed up overall victory with just one stage to go.
Millar held off a list of favorites for the upcoming Vuelta a España, easily beating defending Vuelta champion Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) by 12 seconds, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) by 21 seconds and Angel Casero (Bianchi) by 23 seconds.
Millar, who won a time trial at the Tour of West Flanders and the final time trial of the 2003 Tour de France earlier this year, zipped over the relatively flat course as clouds helped turn down Spain’s heat-wave a notch from very hot to hot.
The real battle was between Lastras and Phonak’s Oscar Pereiro, who started the day separated by just 22 seconds in the overall standings. Pereiro quickly gained 11 seconds on Lastras, but the iBanesto.com rider found his rhythm and only forfeited 12 seconds to keep the race leader’s purple jersey.
“The most important thing was to maintain my lead. Pereiro went very fast in the first part of the time trial, but I didn’t panic and just kept pushing. I went as hard as I could, there’s no doubt,” said Lastras, a winner of a stage at the 2003 Tour. “Oscar and I played some head games in Wednesday’s stage. I think he expected to gain time on me and instead I gained time on him.”
Lastras attacked Pereiro in the final kilometer of Wednesday’s “queen stage” to open up the decisive 22-second gap. Lastras enters Friday’s rolling final stage with a 10-second margin over Pereiro as all 11 riders from Monday’s jailbreak continued to dominate the top of the leader board.
25th Vuelta a Burgos, Stage 4, 14.4km Medina de Pomar, individual time trial
1. David Millar (GBr), Cofidis 16 minutes, 24 seconds (52.68 kph)
2. Aitor Gonzalez (Sp), Fassa Bortolo +0:12
3. Bert Grabsch (G), Phonak +0:21
4. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Sp), ONCE +0:21
5. Angel Casero (Sp), Bianchi +0:23
7. Bobby Julich (USA), Telekom +0:25
12. Oscar Pereiro (Sp), Phonak +0:36
14. Floyd Landis (USA), USPS +0:39
19. Pablo Lastras (Sp), iBanesto.com +0:48
Overall standings after four stages
1. Pablo Lastras (Sp), iBanesto.com 12 hours, 25 minutes, 32 seconds
2. Oscar Pereiro (Sp), Phonak +0:10
3. Carlos Garcia Quesada (Sp), Kelme +1:32
4. Giampaolo Cheula (I), Caldirola +1:48
5. Ikor Flores (Sp), Euskaltel +2:35Lion of Flanders wins in Denmark
Johan Museeuw (Quick Step) showed signs of life to win Thursday’s windy third stage of the Tour of Denmark to score his first victory since winning Het Volk back in March.
The Lion of Flanders was among seven Quick Step riders who worked themselves into a 37-rider break with 70km to go in the 185km stage from Hammel to Kolding, the most difficult stage of the five-day Danish tour.
Museeuw skipped the Tour to save his legs for the second half of the World Cup season and the move paid off with an important win for the 37-year-old veteran.
“This is a great win that has repaid me for all my hard work and efforts the past few months,” he said.
With 30km to go, Museeuw punched the accelerator and Jacob Piil (CSC), Kurt Asle Arvesen (Team fakta) and Sergei Gonchar (De Nardi-Colpack) came along for the ride. Museeuw attacked again with 2km to go to finish 28 seconds ahead of Piil and Arvesen.
Defending champion Piil did what he could do to make up for more than two minutes he lost in the opening stage, but couldn’t follow Museeuw’s pace. Overnight leader Mark Scanlon, the young Irish rider on Ag2r, ceded leadership to Michael Skelde, a Dane on fakta. French rider Laurent Brochard (Ag2r) finished fifth at 1:03 back to move into second overall at 15 seconds back.
The race continues with Friday’s decisive split stage. The morning sector is a 100-mile rolling stage from Middelfart to Faaborg and the afternoon sector is a 15.7km individual time trial at Svendorg. The race concludes Saturday with the final road stage.
Tour of Denmark, Stage 3, Hammel to Kolding, 185km
1. Johan Museeuw (B), Quick Step 4 hours, 48 minutes, 14 seconds
2. Jakob Piil (Den), CSC +0:27
3. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Den), fakta
4. Sergei Gonchar (Ukr), De Nardi-Colpack — all same time
5. Laurent Brochard (F), Ag2r +1:03
Overall standings after three stages
1. Michael Skelde (Den), fakta 13 hours, 35 minutes, 40 seconds
2. Laurent Brochard (F), Ag2r +0:15
3. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), Quick Step +0:16
4. Mark Scanlon (Ire), Ag2r +0:19
5. Aart Vierhouten (Ned), Lotto-Domo +0:23
Barbero wins fourth stage at Portugal
Candido Barbero (LA Pecol) won his fourth stage in the 65th Tour of Portugal, taking the 188.6km eighth stage in a bunch sprint. Barbosa held off compatriots Alberto Benito (Antarte) and Carlos Golbano (Paternina), who came across second and third, respectively, to win his second stage in a row.
The day’s rolling stage was marked by several breakaways, but the leading teams worked together to bring it down to a mass gallop. Milaneza’s Rui Lavarinhas finished in the main bunch to retain the overall lead.
The Portuguese tour continues Friday with the 153km ninth stage from Fafe to Graca.65th Volta a Portugal, Stage 8, Santa Maria da Feira to Fafe, 188.6km
1. Candido Barbosa (Por), LA Pecol, 4 hours, 36 minutes, 12 seconds
2. Alberto Benito (Sp), Antarte
3. Carlos Golbano (Sp), Paternina
4. Joan Horrach (Sp), Milaneza-MSS
5. Daniele Righi (I), Lampre – all same time
Overall standings after eight stages
1. Rui Lavarinhas (Por), Milaneza-MSS 33 hours, 13 minutes, 53 seconds
2. Nuno Ribeiro (Por) LA Pecol +0:17
3. David Blanco (Sp), Ravessa +1:57
4. Claus Moller (Den), Milaneza-MSS +2:19
5. Nelson Vitorino (Por) Ravessa +2:48
Turpin wins in l’Ain, Merckx takes over
French rider Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r) won the 155km third stage between Saint Genis Pouilly to Lélex Monts Jura of the Tour de l’Ain while Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) moved into the overall lead.
Merckx was part of an 11-man chase group working in Turpin’s vapors. Overnight leader Samuel Dumoulin (Jean Delatour) missed the move and finished 16th at 2:12 back to fall into second at 59 seconds behind Merckx.
Tour de l’Ain, Stage 3, Saint Genis Pouilly to Lélex-Monts Jura, 155 km
1. Ludovic Turpin (F), Ag2R 4 hours, 1 minute, 44 seconds
2. Javier Pascual (Sp), iBanesto.com +0:56
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), iBanesto.com
4. Richard Virenque (F), Quick Step
5. Christophe Oriol (F), Ag2r – all same time
Overall standings after three stages
1. Axel Merckx (B), Lotto-Domo 11 hours, 19 minutes, 19 seconds
2. Samuel Dumoulin (F), Jean Delatour +0:59
3. Jérôme Pineau (F), Brioches La Boulangère +1:03
4. Ludovic Turpin (F), Ag2r +1:05
5. Richard Virenque (F), Quick Step +2:01
Credit Agricole grabs young Kazakh
Credit Agricole continues on its rebuilding campaign and announced it signed young Kazakh rider Andrey Kashechkin to a two-year contract. Kashechkin raced with Patrick Lefevre at Lotto-Domo and Quick Step, but took the offer to join Roger Legeay’s team. Kashechkin is the sixth signing for Credit Agricole, which has already penned deals with Patrick Halgand, Sebastian Joly, Benoit Salmon, Alexandre Botcharov and Damien Nazon.