Veteran German sprint specialist Erik Zabel won the 178 kilometres second stage of the Tour of the Valencian Community from Alzira to Xativa on Wednesday.
Despite the 37-year-old's success, Spain's Jose Ivan Gutierrez retained the overall leader's yellow jersey - he leads compatriot Ruben Plaza by four seconds while the previous two Tour de France champions Alberto Contador and Oscar Pereiro are nine seconds and 1min 56sec off the pace respectively.
Zabel, who began riding in the peloton back in 1992, beat home Mirco Lorenzetto of Italy and Frenchman Samuel Dumoulin in the sprint finish.
"That was a very challenging final sprint, since it went uphill to the finish line and was pretty narrow," admitted Zabel, whose admission that he used the blood booster EPO should see him stripped of the first of his six successive Tour de France green jerseys back in 1996.
"So I am very happy with my first season victory. As a team we worked very well today, especially in the last 20 km, when we forced the tempo and set up the mass sprint," added Zabel, who has hinted that this may well be his last in the saddle.
Another sprint ace Alessandro Petacchi of Italy failed to show the form he did last week in winning three of the five stages in the Road to the Sun race as he could finish only 42nd.
|1 Erik Zabel (Ger|Team Milram)||4:31:22|
|2 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita|Lampre)|
|3 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra|Cofidis)|
|4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita|Liquigas)|
|5 Danilo Napolitano (Ita|Lampre)|
|6 Javier Benitez (Spa|Benfica)|
|7 Manuele Mori (Ita|Saunier Duval-Scott)|
|8 Alberto Ongarato (Ita|Team Milram)|
|9 Gorka Verdugo (Spa|Euskaltel-Euskadi)|
|10 Iván Gutiérrez (Spa|Caisse d'Epargne)|
|11 Rubén Pérez (Spa|Euskaltel-Euskadi)|
|General classification after stage 2|
|1 Iván Gutiérrez (Spa|Caisse d'Epargne)||8:18:11|
|2 Rubén Plaza (Spa|Benfica)||0:00:04|
|3 Gorka Verdugo (Spa|Euskaltel-Euskadi)||0:00:06|
|4 Xavier Florencio (Spa|Bouygues Telecom)|
|5 Alberto Contador (Spa|Astana)||0:00:09|
|6 Maxime Monfort (Bel|Cofidis)||0:00:10|
|7 Jérôme Pineau (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)|
|8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can|Slipstream Chipotle - H30)|
|9 Antonio Colom (Spa|Astana)|
|10 Daniel Petrov (Bul|Benfica)|
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.
© AFP & BikeRadar 2008