Rabon takes stage and lead in Murcia TT; round one to Wiggo in battle with Armstrong
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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rabon takes stage and lead in Murcia TT; round one to Wiggo in battle with Armstrong

by Ben Atkins at 11:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 

Frantisek Rabon (HTC-Columbia) won the stage 4 individual time trial of the Vuelta a Murcia. The Czech time trial champion, who was third from last to start, blasted round the pan-flat 22km course in a time of 25’10”, 33 seconds faster than Giro d’Italia champion Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and a further 15 seconds ahead of British Tour de France hope Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).

Starting among the first half of the field due to a lowly position on the overall classification, Patrick Gretsch set a best time of 26’13”, which proved tough for the leading riders to break. Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) who has been part of many of the race's breaks so far went close, but could not get closer than 7 seconds to the German’s time.

Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), who has highlighted this time trial as a key stepping stone to building his Tour de France form, was the first of the big names in the race to go. The American came within 15 seconds of Gretsch, but was quickly pushed into fourth by Dutch TT champion Stef Clement, who beat Armstrong’s time by just one second.

Finally, Armstrong’s teammate Andreas Klöden pushed his compatriot off the top of the leaderboard, but his lead was to be short lived as Menchov set a seemingly unbeatable time; dipping below 26 minutes for the first time. Wiggins managed to come within 15 seconds of the Russian, but then Rabon – with the benefit of knowing the times of all the previous riders – flew round 33 seconds faster.

As one of a group of riders on the same time as overnight leader Josep Jufre (Astana), Rabon moves into the race lead.

Although there are several months until the Tour de France starts in Rotterdam, the Wiggins camp will see his 35 second victory over Armstrong as a vital psychological blow in the upcoming battle with the seven-time winner.

Vuelta a Murcia stage 4 results:
1. Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC-Columbia 25’10”
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank @ 33s
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky @ 48s
4. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack @ 52s
5. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Columbia @ 1’03”
6. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil @ 1’10”
7. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank @ 1’17”
8. Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack @ 1’18”
9. Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana @ 1’21”
10. David Zabriskie (USA) @ 1’23”

Standings after stage 4:
1. Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC-Columbia 25’10”
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank @ 38s
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky @ 53s

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