Isaac Galvez handed his Illes Balears-Banesto team a welcome stage victory on the third day of Setmana Catalana in Montcada I Reixac on Wednesday, pipping T-Mobile’s Erik Zabel on the finish line.
After two days of Swiss domination, with wins going to Fabian Cancellara and Beat Zberg, Galvez finally handed Spain a victory following the 159.5km stage from Castello d’Empuries.
Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Saunier Duval) took the overall race lead after finishing third.
Galvez, meanwhile, had to wait for a photo finish decision before being told he had beat T-Mobile veteran Zabel, who finished second for the third time in less than a week.
Zabel was sensationally pipped by Oscar Freire for victory in the World Cup-opening Milan-San Remo last Saturday and two days later Cancellara beat him to claim a stage in Setmana Catalana.
The final sprint at the finish however was marred by a crash which took down American Levi Leipheimer and Denmark’s Michael Rasmussen.
Thursday’s fourth and penultimate stage is over 179.5 km from Palau Solita i Plegamans to the category one, summit finish of El Port del Comte – a stage which is likely to determine the overall winner.
Velo takes lead in Coppi-Bartali race week
Riding on the strength of a solid team time trial, cycling’s best-named racer, Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo) took over the lead of the Coppi-Bartali international in Rimini Wednesday.
The day’s first half-stage, held over 84.8km, was won in a sprint finish De Nardi’s Graziano Gasparre team, ahead of compatriot Cresenzo d’Amore.
The day’s second half-stage was a team time trial, held over 10.7km – dominated by Fassa Bortolo – was enough to give Velo the race leader’s jersey.
Thursday’s second stage in the five-stage race is over 207km from Riccione to Faenza.
Capelle claims ‘A Travers La Flandres’
Ludovic Capelle claimed victory in the first of a series of Flemish one-day classic races in the ‘A Travers La Flandres (Across Flanders) as it finished in Waregem on Wednesday. The 28-year-old, who rides for the Belgian Landbouwkrediet team, came over the finish line alone ahead of Estonian sprinter Jan Kirsipuu, of AG2R. Britain’s Roger Hammond took third place.
Beloki still confident of making weekend debut
Joseba Beloki, who has been out of action since last year’s dramatic crash in front of Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France, will make his return to competition this Saturday.
Beloki will ride in the Criterium International according to his Brioches La Boulangere team, which has had to postpone his return on several occasions.
Beloki, who has finished on the Tour de France podium three times from 2000 to 2002, was supposed to return to action in February’s GP La Marseillaise but had to call off because of Achilles tendon problems.
It was thought the 30-year-old Basque rider might be forced to miss most of the early season preparation for the 2004 Tour de France but he has come back to form much sooner than expected.