Former Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro failed his first stage exams in the Tour of the Valencian Community as Spanish compatriot and teammate Ivan Gutierrez took out the victory.
Gutierrez dominated a 24-man breakaway in a sprint finish which gave him the winner's jersey, and some relief after an embarrassing 'win' at the Tour of the Mediterranean. Ruben Plaza finished second after the 157km hilly ride from Sagunto to Port de Sagunto, with Bouygues Telecom's top sprinter Xavier Florencio finishing in a disappointing third.
Pereiro, crowned the 2006 yellow jersey winner last year after American Floyd Landis was finally confirmed as being disqualified for doping at the 2006 Tour de France, finished nearly two minutes in arrears.
Current Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, of Astana, instigated a decisive breakaway on the category one Col du Garbi at 111km, finally remaining in contention for overall victory in the five-day race after finishing just 9secs behind Gutierrez.
Gutierrez was delighted with his first win of the season - after missing out in embarrassing fashion at the Tour of the Med when he raised his arms in triumph at the finish only to be told he had been a lap too early.
"This time I really won," said Gutierrez, a former three-time Spanish time trial champion. "I am very happy not only for the stage win but also because I am in a good position now for the final win even if I know that some other 20 riders are exactly in the same position."
|1 Iván Gutiérrez (Spa|Caisse d'Epargne)||3:46:59|
|2 Rubén Plaza (Spa|Benfica)|
|3 Xavier Florencio (Spa|Bouygues Telecom)|
|4 Daniel Petrov (Bul|Benfica)|
|5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita|Liquigas)|
|6 Antonio Colom (Spa|Astana)|
|7 Patxi Vila (Spa|Lampre)|
|8 David De La Fuente (Spa|Saunier Duval-Scott)|
|9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can|Slipstream Chipotle - H30)|
|10 Gorka Verdugo (Spa|Euskaltel-Euskadi)|
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.
© AFP & BikeRadar 2008