Sam's the man
Following on team-mate Roberto Laiseka's gutsy win last Tuesday, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sanchez made it victory number two for the orange crew, taking advantage of a misjudged sprint by Mauricio Alberto Ardila (Davitamon-Lotto) and outsprinting breakaway companion Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) to earn his first professional career victory.
The 196 kilometre stage from Burgos to the far northern Spanish town of La Bien Aparecida had most of its major obstacles in the latter half, with a Cat. 1 and three Cat. 3 climbs in the final 75 kilometres, and the finish atop the Cat. 3 ascent of Ampuero. Naturally, the day provided plenty of encouragement for the breakaway specialists, and the winning break came from a large group of 32 men, which eventually found itself just eight riders strong with around 20 kilometres to go.
Approaching the finish line, Pereiro appeared to have the strongest legs, but then Ardila jumped with less than a kilometre to go, taking Sanchez with him. Thinking the mountain prime was also the finish line, the petite Colombian raised his arms prematurely, before realising his mistake as Sanchez flew past him for a comfortable win.
A high-speed crash at the 22 kilometre mark took down a number of riders, including third-placed on the overall, Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), who turned out to be unhurt. However, the same couldn't be said for Belgian Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto), who was taken to hospital in an unconscious state but was later reported to be in a stable condition.