Bradley Wiggins looks set for his first podium finish in Sky colours after a third place in Saturday’s decisive time trial of the Tour of Murcia saw the Briton move up to third overall.
Wiggins finished the flat 22 kilometre time trial in Alhama de Murcia 48 seconds slower than Czech Frantisek Rabon (HTC-Columbia), the winner of the same stage last year and who is now the new overall leader. Denis Menchov (Rabobank), victorious in the Giro in 2009 and the Vuelta in 2008 and 2005, was second.
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The Sky leader was 30 seconds faster than Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), who completed the course in eighth place. Murcia is the one stage race where the two Tour contenders are likely to cross paths before July.
Following his ninth place in the most mountainous stage of the race on Friday, and today’s strong performance, Wiggins is all but certain to leave Murcia with his first podium finish of the season.
The last stage from Redyser to Murcia has just one major climb, a second category lump 52 kilometres from the finish, making a bunch sprint extremely likely.
Tour of Murcia 2010: Stage four ITT
1. Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC-Columbia 22km in 25-10
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 33secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 48secs
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Radioshack at 52secs
5. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Columbia at 1-03
6. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil at 1-10
7. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank at 1-17
8. Lance Armstrong (USA) Radioshack at 1-18
9. Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana at 1-21
10. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 1-23
41. Rob Partridge (GB) Endura at 2-46
48. Ian Wilkinson (GB) Endura at 3-09
62. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 3-35
74. Russell Downing (GB) Team Sky at 4-01
92. Evan Oliphant (GB) Endura at 4-51
95. James Moss (GB) Endura at 5-16
100. Ros Creber (GB) Endura at 5-33
Overall classification after stage four
1. Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC-Columbia in 13-17-49
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 38secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 53secs
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Radioshack at 57secs
5. Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana at 1-21
6. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank at 1-23
7. Lance Armstrong (USA) Radioshack at 1-23
8. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank at 1-41
9. Luke Roberts (Aus) Milram at 1042
10. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice at 1-59
41. Ian Wilkinson (GB) Endura at 11-16
Frantisek Rabon took the stage and race lead
Rabon in full flow
Lance Amrstrong placed eighth
Bradley Wiggins in third
Denis Menchov in second