Spaniard Manuel Váquez (Contentpolis-Murcia) won the third stage of the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana. Second was his compatriot Rubén Plaza (Benfica), who took over the race leadership. Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) finished third.
"I wanted to do a good stage, I knew the terrain perfectly and I tried to benefit from this," Plaza commented after taking the overall lead.
The 166km stage started and finished in Ibi, Rubén Plaza's hometown. In the first hour, a three man break escaped containing Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom), Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) and Patrick McCarty (Slipstream). The peloton let them go, as none of them were dangerous to the leader. The trio's maximum advantage was 4'52.
The break was caught before the last climb of the day, the Port de Carrasqueta (2nd category), where José Ángel Gómez (Saunier Duval), Alberto Contador (Astana), Rubén Plaza (Benfica), Manuel Váquez (Contentpolis-Murcia) all tried to escape. In the end, Plaza and Vázquez were able to stay clear. Plaza was the first over the summit ahead of Vázquez and 15 seconds ahead of Contador.
There was drama with nine kilometres to go when the lead motorcyclist went off course and a group with leader Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Alberto Contador (Astana) followed, parallel to the race route. It was a dangerous situation as the motorway was not blocked to normal traffic. One kilometre before the finish, the group was able to join the official route, but they no longer had a chance to reach Plaza and Vázquez.
The two Spaniards finished the stage in a sprint; Vázquez was faster than Plaza, but Plaza became the new leader of the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana.
The race continues tomorrow with stage four, starting and finishing in Naquera over 175.6 kilometres.
|1 Manuel Váquez (Spa|Contentpolis - Murcia)||4:08:49|
|2 Rubén Plaza (Spa|Benfica)|
|3 Xavier Florencio (Spa|Bouygues Telecom)||0:00:16|
|4 David De La Fuente (Spa|Saunier Duval-Scott)|
|5 Ryder Hesjedal (Can|Slipstream Chipotle - H30)|
|6 Jérôme Pineau (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)|
|7 Gorka Verdugo (Spa|Euskaltel-Euskadi)|
|8 Antonio Colom (Spa|Astana)|
|9 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita|Lampre)|
|10 Maxime Monfort (Bel|Cofidis)|
|General classification after stage 3|
|1 Rubén Plaza (Spa|Benfica)||12:26:55|
|2 Manuel Váquez (Spa|Contentpolis - Murcia)||0:00:05|
|3 Iván Gutiérrez (Spa|Caisse d'Epargne)||0:00:21|
|4 Xavier Florencio (Spa|Bouygues Telecom)||0:00:23|
|5 Gorka Verdugo (Spa|Euskaltel-Euskadi)||0:00:27|
|6 Alberto Contador (Spa|Astana)||0:00:29|
|7 Maxime Monfort (Bel|Cofidis)||0:00:31|
|8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can|Slipstream Chipotle - H30)|
|9 Jérôme Pineau (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)|
|10 Antonio Colom (Spa|Astana)|
For full results, report and photos, visit cyclingnews.com