Surprise win for Förster
Team Gerolsteiner had something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon: just as his teammate Stefan Schumacher was battling it out for the overall victory in Poland, Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) sailed to a surprise victory in the bunch sprint in Almussafes at the Vuelta in Spain. The German, who is regularly amongst the top ten in bunch finishes, outsprinted Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) and Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital) in that order, taking advantage of a light left hand side turn just before the finish line, which he took on the outside. Milram's Alessandro Petacchi was one of the riders who got blocked in that final curve.
"It was so close, but when Robert has a good day it's extremely hard to keep up," Team CSC's directeur sportif Kim Andersen said after the stage. "But even though Förster's victory was very convincing, Stuart's second place was equally so and he has every reason to be satisfied with his effort."
No changes occurred on the top end of the general classification.
In the 182km-long stage taking the peloton from Motilla del Palancar down to the South-East Valencian coast, a breakaway of two challenged the bunch in vain. Escaped since km 7, Jorge García (Relax-Gam) and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) tried to keep off the bunch on this all-downhill stretch of the race, but hard a very hard time to do so. After the duo saw its maximum lead of 6.30 melt away again, the man from Finland lost contact to his companion with 90 kilometres to go, and decided to sit up. The Spaniard then continued on his own, but was eventually caught with 15 kilometres to go.