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Stage 6 - April 8: Zalla - Zalla ITT, 24 Km

46th Vuelta al Pais Vasco - PT

Spain, April 3-8, 2006

Overall standings Previous Stage

Gomez Marchante takes overall with great time trial

José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has won the 46th Vuelta al Pais Vasco with a strong ride in the final 24 km time trial in Zalla. Gomez Marchante finished six seconds clear of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and eight ahead of Antonio Colom (Caisse d'Epargne), and those three also finished as the top three overall. Gomez Marchante's time of 32'44 obliterated the eight second deficit to race leader Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who could only manage 33'35 and dropped out of the top 5 as a result.

The win is by far the biggest of Gomez Marchante's career, which is only in its third season. Prior to this, he won a stage in the GP CTT Correios De Portugal in 2004, but has recorded several top 10 placings in ProTour events.

How it unfolded

The final stage was a challenging 24 km time trial around Zalla. There was very little flat, with the riders climbing to an altitude of 310m at one stage, from a starting point of 65m. With several riders, including Piepoli (Saunier Duval), Van den Broeck and Noval (Discovery), Fertonani (Caisse D'Epargne) all not starting, the first rider off was Ian McLeod (Française des Jeux). The South African recorded a time of 39'49, which turned out to be the slowest of the day.

As the riders continued to finish the final stage, Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas-Bianchi) moved to the top of the leaderboard with a solid 33'56. But he was bettered by Janez Brajkovic (Discovery) with a 33'02, before the final 15 riders opened the throttle and gave it everything for a chance to win the overall.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) posted an excellent time of 32'50, which put him in the hot seat for a short while until José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) posted the winning time of 32'44. There were still seven riders to come, including race leader Samuel Sanchez, but no-one could get close to Gomez Marchante. Antonio Colom (Caisse d'Epargne) finished third at 8 seconds, while Sanchez had a bad ride to finish 15th at 51 seconds. The shake up on GC meant that Gomez Marchante finished with a 7 second gap to Valverde and Colom in the overall, scoring his biggest win to date.

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