Race roundup: Spain, Italy and Belgium

Castilla, Coppi and Dwars results

Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) won the third stage of the Tour of Castilla y León on Wednesday in a sprint finish at the San Isidro ski station.

American Levi Leipheimer (Astana), who won Tuesday's individual time trial, maintained his overall lead ahead of Spanish teammate Alberto Contador, who launched an unsuccessful attack to try and take the first mountain stage of the event.

One breakaway group, involving Paco Mancebo and Ricardo Serrano, was caught two kilometres from the finish of the 156.9-kilometre stage from Sahagun to San Isidro.

The riders on Thursday tackle the most challenging stage of the 24th edition of the  race, with tough two mountain climbs. It will probably be the last chance for Contador, who won the last two editions, to win a stage or take over the top of the overall standings.

This year's event has been overshadowed by the withdrawal of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who broke his collarbone when he fell along with several other riders in Monday's first stage. The 37-year-old American is making a comeback to the sport after a three-and-a-half year retirement.

For complete results, visit Cyclingnews.com

Lampre's damiano cunego (file photo).:

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali: Cunego!

Former Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre) won the second stage of the Coppi e Bartali race over 182.1km from San Lazzaro to Faenza on Wednesday.

Italian Cunego edged out Colombian Jose Serpa into second with third place going to Giovanni Visconti, the new overall leader.

A group of nine riders broke clear on the Monte Trebbo before Cunego and Serpa separated themselves from the rest and the Italian easily took the sprint finish.

Thursday's third stage sees the peloton ride over 163km from Borgo San Lorenzo to Serramazzoni.

For complete results, visit Cyclingnews.com

© BikeRadar & AFP 2009

QuickStep teammates kevin van impe (l) and tom boonen in qatar.:

QuickStep teammates Kevin Van Impe (L) and Tom Boonen

Dwars door Vlaanderen: Van Impe!

Belgian Kevin Van Impe profited from a strong team performance of his QuickStep outfit to beat former Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Niko Eeckhout (An Post Sean Kelly) in a two-up sprint in Belgium Wednesday.

Eeckhout led out the sprint but had nothing left after being in the break of the day. A dozen seconds later Tom Boonen easily outsprinted an exhausted Heinrich Haussler for third. Haussler had animated the latter part of the race and his solo break forced a QuickStep team time trial to reel him back in.

A crash in the peloton, less than two minutes behind, brought down several riders, including Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) and Andreas Klier (Cervélo Test Team).

With three men in the five-man break, QuickStep looked set for an easy win, but Haussler made it tough for the three Belgians Van Impe, Boonen and Stijn Devolder. When Haussler reeled back in a counter attack by Devolder, Van Impe went and drew Eeckhout with him. That put Haussler out of the game, but the experienced Eeckhout in the front was not necessarily good news for QuickStep.

Van Impe acknowledged that there was some pressure on him. 

"I wasn't sure I could beat him [Eeckhout], he is a fast man. But with the conditions like today, with the rain and the wind, things are a little different." Van Impe crossed the line with a big grin on his face, then buried his head in disbelief. "This is indescribable. My teammates kept Haussler in check behind. I have to thank Stijn and Tom for giving me this chance."

For complete results, visit Cyclingnews.com

AFP
Author: AFP
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