Sprinter Ventoso rising

Young Francisco José Ventoso of Saunier Duval-Prodir is hardly mentioned when talking about 'top...

Young Francisco José Ventoso of Saunier Duval-Prodir is hardly mentioned when talking about 'top sprinters,' but he proved yesterday that he is one to watch. The 24 year-old topped the the bunch at the close of the 157 kilometre stage two from Zamora to Salamanca in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

"It was a little crazy," remarked the Cantabrian to Marca after the stage finish. Ventoso is used to being in the sprinters' mix, he took his first win in 2004, at the age of 22, in the Wachovia Invitational/USPro championship in Philadelphia, and, more recently, won stage three of the 2006 Vuelta a España.

"There was no one clear team that was controlling the sprint, except for Benfica for Javier Benitez. Just before the final curve I had one of my teammates take me up front, afterwards I started my sprint, and the others were not able to stay with me.

Ventoso had figured on Caisse d'Epargne to hold together the race after its rider, Vladimir Karpets, won the time trial. "The time splits caused yesterday were small and it was known that Caisse d'Epargne would control, although Euskaltel also helped by placing its men at front for an eventual sprint."

The peloton picked up the day's escape and set up for Ventoso's fourth career win. "The escape was reeled in quickly and the group, which did not want to risk any riders going off front, continued a good rhythm, aided by a tailwind."

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