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Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval)
Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has pulled off victory in stage 3 of the Vuelta in...
Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has pulled off victory in stage 3 of the Vuelta in Almendralejo, which, as expected, finished in a bunch sprint. Ventoso was not the expected winner, but rode a smart sprint on the uphill finish to beat golden jersey wearer Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) for the honours. Hushovd therefore extended his lead in the general classification, and O'Grady now sits in second spot at 11 seconds.
The 220 km stage from Córdoba to Almendralejo was the longest in the race and was ridden in bakingly hot 40+ degree conditions. It was dominated by a three man breakaway that escaped after the first climb at km 13. David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital) and Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis) were the riders involved, and they gained 7'46 over the bunch before the sprinters teams started to flex their muscles.
The inevitable happened with 7 km to go, when the survivors De La Fuente and Franzoi were caught by the peloton, and the stage was set for a bunch sprint. David Millar (Saunier Duval) had other ideas and attacked inside the technical final kilometre. He was caught by the Milram train, before Fred Rodriguez led out for McEwen at around 400m to go. Once again, McEwen found himself in the wind too early, and faded to fifth as Ventoso powered up the left to take a fine win ahead of Hushovd and O'Grady.