Roberts wins dash into Alhama de Murcia

Hunter abandons race, races to birth of second child

In Australian parlance, Milram's Luke Roberts is having a "blinder" of a season, and his road renaissance continued on Friday as he claimed the third stage of the Tour of Murcia in Spain.

Roberts sprinted ahead of a select front peloton to secure arguably the biggest stage win of his career and his first since the 2008 Giro del Capo. He was joined on the podium by Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) and Josep Jufre (Astana), who assumed the race lead.

"That was a perfect stage for us! Our performances the last few days hadn't been rewarded and this is a great satisfaction for us,“ said Milram's Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch at the podium ceremony. "Our team did a good job to bring Luke Roberts and Tommy Rohregger into the finale. In the end there were no sprinters there and we had the strongest rider in the group; Luke.“

Grabsch also praised Milram neo-pro Dominik Nerz for his work on the second of the stage's two Category 1 climbs. "Dominik is riding very strongly here this week and has integrated himself into the team very well. Today he was the most important helper on the mountains for Roberts, [who was] falling back only shortly before the top. That was a great performance on this Queen stage.“

Jufre's control of the yellow jersey owed a lot to his ability to stay on terms with the front group, but his path to the tunic was made easier after former leader Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) exited the race during the stage. The South African dashed immediately away from Spain to be by his wife's side after word arrived that she had gone into labour with the couple's second child.

Roberts, too, accelerated his way into second overall. Frantisek Rabon (Team HTC-Columbia) has assumed third place on the major classification.

The race to remember Pantani

Although the stage profile indicated only one truly significant climb, the Category 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo had been the centre of attention even before the start of the Tour on Wednesday.

Faced with a storm of controversy over his alleged discrimination against Italian teams, Race Director Paco Guzmán had pointed to the summit - where a memorial prize to Marco Pantani would be awarded to the first rider to cross - as a symbol of solidarity with Spain's European neighbours.

Whatever the significance of the climb, 107 riders set off from Las Torres de Cotillas bound for its slopes. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) appeared more anxious than most when he escaped with nine other riders early in the stage. An impromptu tête-à-tête ensued between RadioShack and the temporary leaders as the American squad worked to successfully reel in the escape.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Michal Kwiatkowski (Caja Rural), Jan Barta (NetApp) and Marcel Barth (German Team) were the next to zip off the front. The quartet quickly revealed themselves as the escape of the day; building a lead of nine minutes on their way past the 50-kilometre mark.

That'll do boys

The leash was extended only so far, however, as RadioShack, Garmin-Transitions and Rabobank marshalled their troops and reduced the advantage to below five minutes. The gap was broken by a sole chaser, Frenchman Alexandre Blain (Endura Racing), whose brave attempt fell to nought over the next 30 kilometres.

Several minutes after the four escapees had begun the only other categorized climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Alto de Pliego, Race leader Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) pulled over to the side of the road. The South African was to begin an even more desperate race: to be with his wife, who had just gone into labour.

Despite the symbolism of the Bermejo, the race did have to contend with the Alto de Espuña on its way to the summit. Though lower in altitude that the climb that would follow, the Category 1 ascent proved fatal for the breakaway and its lead had all but evaporated as the Bermejo began.

Dutch courage not quite enough

As expected, the final climb again served to change the face of the race. Peter Weening (Rabobank) appeared solo on the descent, but it had been Wouter Poels who had secured the Marco Pantani prize for another of the race's other Dutch team, Vacansoleil.

Clearly, Poels was in a boisterous mood as he worked to bridge across to Weening with Vacansoleil teammate Rob Ruijgh, Josep Jufre (Astana) and Stefan Denifl (Cervélo TestTeam). Sky's Chris Froome and Wiggins had been fifth and sixth across the summit, but it was the quintet ahead that put their heads down in a desperate dash to the finish.

With six kilometres to go on the largely down hill run to the line the escape held a 25-second advantage over a group of some 25 riders, including Wiggins and Lance Armstrong (RadioShack). Three kilometres later and the gap was just 10 seconds as the break's slim hope wore thinner and thinner.

But alas, the majority ruled over the minority as the escape was swept up on the approach to the final kilometre. In a group that contained the race's expected heads of state, it was Luke Roberts (Milram) who proved to be the best of the select bunch as he crossed the line ahead of Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) and former-escapee turned new race leader, Jufré (Astana).

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram4:16:47 
2Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
3Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana  
4Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank  
5Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack  
6Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank  
7Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam  
8Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions  
9Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky  
10José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural  
11Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana  
12Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram  
13Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia  
14Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana  
15Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing  
16Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam  
17Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
18Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
19Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia  
20Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky  
21Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
22Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank  
23Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
24Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam  
25Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Team Radioshack  
26Lance Armstrong (USA) Team Radioshack  
27Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank  
28Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana  
29José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack  
30Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
31Morris Possoni (Ita) Team Sky0:00:06 
32Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky0:00:09 
33Dominik Nerz (Ger) Team Milram0:03:41 
34Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia  
35Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural  
36Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia  
37Mauricio Ardila (Col) Rabobank  
38Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
39Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
40Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp0:05:23 
41Nico Keinath (Ger) Team Netapp  
42Sergey Chernetskiy (Rus) Russian National Team  
43Vitor Rodrigues (Por) Caja Rural  
44Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
45Salvador Guardiola (Spa) Spanish National Team0:08:07 
46Ian Wilkilson (GBr) Endura Racing  
47José Carlos Lara (Spa) Spanish National Team  
48Egor Korolev (Rus) Russian National Team  
49Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam  
50Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervélo TestTeam  
51Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana  
52David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
53Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky0:11:37 
54Evan Oliphant (GBr) Endura Racing  
55Dariusz Batek (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
56Arturo Mora (Spa) Caja Rural  
57Higinio Fernández (Spa) Caja Rural  
58Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram  
59Robert Partridge (GBr) Endura Racing  
60Bjorn Schroder (Ger) Team Milram  
61Nicolas Portal (Fra) Team Sky  
62Artur Ershow (Rus) Russian National Team  
63Stefan Schafer (Ger) German National Team  
64Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team Netapp  
65Manuel Anton (Spa) Spanish National Team  
66Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack  
67Gregory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack  
68Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing0:23:53 
69Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team Netapp  
70Timon Seubert (Ger) Team Netapp  
71Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural  
72Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp  
73Antonio Cabello (Spa) Spanish National Team  
74Tomasz Lisowicz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
75Krzystof Jezowsky (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
76Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia  
77Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia  
78Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram  
79Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank  
80Maxim Kozyrev (Rus) Russian National Team  
81Alexander Sokolov (Rus) Russian National Team  
82Robert Bengsch (Ger) German National Team  
83Adan Sznitko (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
84Pablo Lechuga (Spa) Spanish National Team  
85Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions  
86Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana  
87Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions  
88Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack  
89Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team  
90Víctor Cabedo (Spa) Spanish National Team  
91Joao Correia (Por) Cervélo TestTeam  
92Robert Bartko (Ger) German National Team  
93Sergey Shilov (Rus) Russian National Team  
94Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team  
95James Moss (GBr) Endura Racing  
96Alexander Rybakov (Rus) Russian National Team  
97Ross Creber (GBr) Endura Racing  
98Theo Bos (Ned) Cervélo TestTeam  
99Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram  
100Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural  
101Lukasz Bodnart (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
102Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Rabobank  
103Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Team HTC - Columbia  
104Henning Bommel (Ger) German National Team  
ABNRobert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Transitions  
ABNJohn Lee Augustyn (RSA) Team Sky  
ABNAlexsandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana  
Sprint 1 - Archena
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3 pts
2Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team2 
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1 
Mountain 1 - Alto de Pliego (Cat. 3)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3 pts
2Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp2 
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1 
Mountain 2 - Alto de Espuña (Cat. 1)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team10 pts
2Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team8 
3Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp6 
4Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam4 
5Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam2 
6Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam1 
Mountain 3 - Alto de Collado Bermejo (Cat. 1). Cima Marco Pantani
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team10 pts
2Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank8 
3Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam6 
4Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana4 
5Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky2 
6Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky1 
Points 1 - Molina de Segura
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3 pts
2Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team2 
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1 
Points 2 - final
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram25 pts
2Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team20 
3Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana16 
4Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank14 
5Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack12 
6Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank10 
7Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam9 
8Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions8 
9Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky7 
10José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural6 
11Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana5 
12Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram4 
13Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia3 
14Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana2 
15Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing1 
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
3Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
4Cervelo Test Team  
5Team Radioshack  
6Team Sky0:00:06 
7Team Milram0:03:41 
8Garmin - Transitions  
9Team HTC - Columbia  
10Caja Rural0:09:04 
11Endura Racing0:19:44 
12Team Netapp0:22:23 
13Russian National Team0:25:07 
14Spanish National Team0:27:51 
15CCC Polsat Polkowice0:35:30 
16German National Team0:59:23 
General classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana12:52:39 
2Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram  
3Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia  
4Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
5Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram  
6Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
7Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
8Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
9Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank  
10Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:05 
11Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky  
12Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia  
13Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank  
14Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack  
15Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana  
16José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural  
17Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank  
18Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank  
19Lance Armstrong (USA) Team Radioshack  
20Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Team Radioshack  
21José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack  
22Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam0:00:43 
23Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana  
24Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing0:01:03 
25Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam0:01:09 
26Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:02:53 
27Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam  
28Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia0:03:41 
29Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
30Dominik Nerz (Ger) Team Milram  
31Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:03:46 
32Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia  
33Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural  
34Morris Possoni (Ita) Team Sky0:04:23 
35Sergey Chernetskiy (Rus) Russian National Team0:05:28 
36Vitor Rodrigues (Por) Caja Rural  
37Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp0:06:06 
38Mauricio Ardila (Col) Rabobank0:06:34 
39Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana0:07:51 
40Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions0:08:06 
41Ian Wilkilson (GBr) Endura Racing0:08:07 
42Egor Korolev (Rus) Russian National Team  
43David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:08:12 
44Salvador Guardiola (Spa) Spanish National Team0:08:50 
45Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervélo TestTeam  
46Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam0:11:00 
47Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack0:11:37 
48Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram  
49Artur Ershow (Rus) Russian National Team0:11:42 
50Gregory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack  
51Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team Netapp  
52Evan Oliphant (GBr) Endura Racing0:12:20 
53Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:13:14 
54Robert Partridge (GBr) Endura Racing0:14:30 
55Dariusz Batek (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
56Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky0:18:09 
57Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky0:18:18 
58Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana0:19:03 
59Higinio Fernández (Spa) Caja Rural0:19:28 
60Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank0:23:53 
61Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp  
62Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing  
63Sergey Shilov (Rus) Russian National Team  
64Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack0:23:58 
65Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia0:24:33 
66Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia0:26:46 
67Nico Keinath (Ger) Team Netapp0:26:54 
68Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team Netapp0:27:13 
69José Carlos Lara (Spa) Spanish National Team0:29:38 
70Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky0:29:46 
71Nicolas Portal (Fra) Team Sky  
72Arturo Mora (Spa) Caja Rural0:30:19 
73Bjorn Schroder (Ger) Team Milram0:31:38 
74Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana0:31:39 
75Henning Bommel (Ger) German National Team0:31:44 
76Alexander Rybakov (Rus) Russian National Team  
77James Moss (GBr) Endura Racing0:32:00 
78Stefan Schafer (Ger) German National Team0:33:11 
79Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions0:33:50 
80Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions0:36:55 
81Víctor Cabedo (Spa) Spanish National Team0:37:38 
82Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram0:37:42 
83Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Team HTC - Columbia  
84Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team0:40:30 
85Krzystof Jezowsky (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:42:02 
86Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural0:42:40 
87Theo Bos (Ned) Cervélo TestTeam0:43:10 
88Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Rabobank0:44:50 
89Timon Seubert (Ger) Team Netapp0:45:24 
90Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural  
91Joao Correia (Por) Cervélo TestTeam  
92Manuel Anton (Spa) Spanish National Team0:45:25 
93Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team0:45:28 
94Tomasz Lisowicz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:49:48 
95Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram  
96Ross Creber (GBr) Endura Racing  
97Robert Bengsch (Ger) German National Team  
98Maxim Kozyrev (Rus) Russian National Team  
99Alexander Sokolov (Rus) Russian National Team  
100Robert Bartko (Ger) German National Team  
101Lukasz Bodnart (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice  
102Pablo Lechuga (Spa) Spanish National Team0:50:37 
103Adan Sznitko (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:56:16 
104Antonio Cabello (Spa) Spanish National Team0:57:41 
Sprint classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing6 pts
2Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team5 
3Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3 
4Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team2 
5José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack2 
6Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank2 
7Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1 
8Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana1 
9Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team1 
10Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural1 
Mountains classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team20 pts
2Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team17 
3Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam12 
4José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural8 
5Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions7 
6Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team4 
7Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural4 
8Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing2 
9Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions2 
10Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana2 
11Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank1 
12Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions1 
Points classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Transitions50 pts
2Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank40 
3Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia32 
4Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing20 
5Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp19 
6Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack18 
7Ian Wilkilson (GBr) Endura Racing14 
8Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram14 
9Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team13 
10Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia10 
11Krzystof Jezowsky (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice10 
12Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana9 
13Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions9 
14Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky8 
15Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana5 
16Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana5 
17Víctor Cabedo (Spa) Spanish National Team4 
18Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3 
19Egor Korolev (Rus) Russian National Team3 
20Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram3 
21Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram2 
22Sergey Shilov (Rus) Russian National Team2 
23Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram2 
24José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack2 
25Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team2 
26Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural1 
27Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana1 
28Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team1 
Team classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team38:37:57 
4Team Radioshack0:00:10 
5Cervelo Test Team0:02:35 
6Team Milram0:03:41 
7Team HTC - Columbia0:03:46 
8Garmin - Transitions  
9Caja Rural0:09:19 
10Endura Racing0:20:27 
11Team Sky0:21:59 
12Team Netapp0:23:11 
13Russian National Team0:25:12 
14CCC Polsat Polkowice0:56:32 
15Spanish National Team1:03:50 
16German National Team1:45:25 

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