CSC's Nicki Sørensen achieved his first Vuelta a España stage win today by outsprinting Javier...
Sørensen strongest in CSC vs Balears battle
CSC's Nicki Sørensen achieved his first Vuelta a España stage win today by outsprinting Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) in an exciting three-man battle also involving José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), who finished third. Sørensen had been part of the day's main breakaway since kilometre 12, and proved to be the strongest in the cobblestone section around Avila's ancient Murallas, the fortress-like boundaries of the inner city.
In the finale, third-placed Garcia Acosta made an enormous effort to bridge the gap back to Rodriguez and the Dane, who were leading the race since the last climb, the Puerto de Navalmoral some 22 kilometres before the finish line. Only a few seconds behind, he paid for it in the end and finished the race 22 seconds later than the winner.
The remnants of the early breakaway, Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Mario Aerts (Davitamon), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) and Gorka Gonzales (Euskaltel) arrived in the finish just in front of the chasing bunch, led out by Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), who gained some seconds on CSC's Carlos Sastre in the battle for third overall placing - but Sastre still leads this spot by 58 seconds.
Golden jersey wearer Roberto Heras (Liberty) arrived in Avila after what must have been an 'easy' day for him, as the bunch let the initial breakaway leave and lead by a maximun of over 10 minutes. Illes Balears drove the pace in the second half of the race, with Mancebo attacking on the final climb. But it was no use - CSC today proved stronger by taking the stage win and maintaining the General Classification as it is.
Stage 18 full results & report
Stages & results
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