Roberts gives Milram win in Murcia
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Roberts gives Milram win in Murcia

by Bjorn Haake at 11:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

Luke Roberts used his finishing speed to propel himself past Sergey Lagutin and Josep Jufré in a sprint finish of the Queen stage in the Vuelta a Murcia. Denis Menchov and Andreas Klöden came in fourth and fifth. Jufré took the overall lead, with Roberts in second place.

Milram's directors are quite relieved that this season is off to a far better start than last year. "That was a perfect stage for us!" said Ralf Grabsch, who guides the team in Murcia. "After our good performances the last few days weren't rewarded, that is very satisfactory for us." Grabsch stood near the podium with a big smile on his face. "Our team brought Luke Roberts and Tommy Rohregger into the finale very well.  In the end there were no sprinters there and we had the strongest rider with Luke."

Grabsch pointed out the strong work by youngster Dominik Nerz. "Dominik is riding very strongly here this week and has integrated himself into the team very well.  Today he was the most important helper on the mountains for Roberts, falling back only shortly before the top. He can be  very proud of his  performance in the Queen stage."

The team's manager, Gerry van Gerwen received the good news after attending a meeting in Paris. "This stage win comes at just the right time.  Luke Roberts didn't feel well over the weekend, so I didn't expect this  from him.  Now we will look at the fight against the clock on Saturday.  Luke is not a bad time trialist and has good chances for the podium in Murcia."

The break of the day was caught on the final climb, the Collado Bermejo, which was named the Cima Marco Pantani. A group of four, including Jufré, then took off but was caught with a couple of kilometers left to race. Jufré still had enough left to finish third and take the overall lead.

Wiggins blasts to the front

One of the first attackers was Bradley Wiggins today, who was the initiator of a ten-man group. But Armstrong's RadioShack team pulled hard to bring them back. Shortly thereafter the break of the day established with Lieuwe Westra, Jan Barta, Michal Kwiatkowski and  Marcel Barth. Alexandre Blain, who was riding for Cofidis last year, tried to join the break. After 47km he was still 1'50 behind, with the peloton at almost nine minutes.

Blain never was able to make the break, with the peloton starting to cut into the lead. After more than 90km, with the first of three climbs, the Alto del Pliego coming up, the gap was down below four minutes.

Westra led Barta and Kwiatkowski over the Pliego. On the climb up the Alto de Espuña, Westra and Barta accelerated, leaving the other two behind. Westra was first over the top (km 124.7), with Kwiatkowski and Barth  more than two minutes behind.

On the final climb up to the Cima Pantani, Kwiatkowski and Barth were caught by the peloton sooner, Westra and Barta were caught later. It was Pieter Weening who emerged as the sole leader of the race, followed by a group at 15 seconds. Lance Armstrong and  Wiggins were in another group, 30 seconds behind.

Weening was caught before the top and the order over the Cima Pantani was Wouter Poels, Weening, Stefan Denifl, Jufré, Chris Froome and Wiggins.  The sprinters successfully quashed the plans of the break.

Stage 3 results

1. Luke Roberts (Team Milram)
2. Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil)
3. Josep Jufré (Astana)
4. Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
5. Andreas Klöden (RadioShack)
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank)
7. Stefan Denifl (Cervélo)
8. Michel Kreder (Garmin-Transitions)
9. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
10. José Herrada (Caja Rural)

General after stage 3:

1. Josep Jufré (Astana)
2. Luke Roberts (Milram)
3. Frantisek Rabon (Team HTC-Columbia)
4. Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil)
5. Thomas Rohregger (Team Milram)


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