Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) has won the bunch finish in today’s third stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain. It is Valverde’s first win of the 2009 season.
The Spaniard let Astana control the race for leader Levi Leipheimer and then his Caisse d’Epargne team set a high pace on the climb to the finish. Valverde won the sprint to the line ahead of Ruben Plaza (Liberty Seguros) and Javier Moreno (Andalucia).
Spanish riders dominated the day’s action, with the entire top ten consisting of riders from the race’s host country.
Leipheimer was 18th in the same time keeping himself at the top of the overall standings thanks to his time trial win on Tuesday. Leipheimer’s team-mate Alberto Contador is in second place overall with a deficit of 16 seconds.
Valverde is targeting another victory in the hilly Ardennes classics but could be temporarily suspended before then after being questioned by the Italian anti-doping investigators about his involvement in Operacion Puerto.
He claims he is innocent and he has so far been allowed to race but the Italian investigators are set to defer him for disciplinary action which would end his hopes for the spring.
Castilla y Leon stage three results
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 156.9km in 3-28-16
2. Ruben Plaza (Spa) Liberty Seguros
3. Javier Moreno (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur
4. Jose Alberto Benitez (Spa) Fuji-Servetto
5. Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Rock Racing
7. Mauricio Ardila Cano (Col) Rabobank
8. Javier Mejias (Spa) Fuji-Servetto
9. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
10. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Fuji-Servetto all at same time.
General classification after stage three
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana in 8-33-26
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 16secs
3. Dave Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 22secs
4. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank at 49secs
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 55secs
6. Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-16
7. Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 1-17
8. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Rock Racing at 1-33
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-36
10. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-39
Race leader Levi Leipheimer (left) with Alberto Contador
Alejandro Valverde takes his first win of 2009
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Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage three photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Stage 2: Leipheimer smashes the opposition in time trial
Wednesday’s international news round-up