Vuelta 19: David Arroyo wins two-up sprint

Astana's Contador and Leipheimer still 1-2 overall

Spain's David Arroyo won Stage 19 of the Tour of Spain on Friday, the third stage win for Caisse d'Epargne, though Alberto Contador looks set for overall victory.

The 28-year-old Arroyo crossed the line first in this 145.5km stretch from Las Rozas to Segovia, also consolidating Caisse d'Epargne's lead in the team standings.

Arroyo finished ahead of Vasili Kiryenka of Belarus, with whom he had made a breakaway about 50 kilometres from the line. Julien Loubet of France was also part of the breakaway group but was left behind.

The Caisse d'Epargne team's success was something of a consolation after team leader and a pre-race favourite Alejandro Valverde put himself out of the reckoning overall after a poor performance in stage 12.

It was Arroyo's fourth victory since he turned professional in 2002. He has had a tough time in the year's other two major Tours, injuring his elbow just before the start of the Tour of Italy which he was forced to miss, and then not getting what he deserved for attacks in the Tour de France.

"I had little luck concerning the Giro and the Tour de France, but this third tour has been a good one," Arroyo said.

Arroyo had refused to take turns riding in front, letting Kiryenka do all the work, in case his team leader Valverde in the peloton had other plans, to beat out an exhausted Belarussian to the line.

The scene is set, however, for the 2007 Tour de France winner and this year's Giro champion Alberto Contador of Spain to ride to victory.

Saturday's 17.1km time-trial, from La Granja de San Ildefonso to the summit finish at Navacerrada, will effectively decide the overall title race. The stage looks tailor made for Contador.

"I'm riding on home soil and I have known the course like the back of my hand since I started riding a bike," Contador said.

Should Contador win in Madrid on Sunday, he would become the first Spaniard and fifth rider in history to have won all three of the sport's major Tours.

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008

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