Vuelta 10: Simon Gerrans wins from breakaway

Valverde keeps slim overall lead

Cervélo's Simon Gerrans completed a set of Grand Tour wins as he claimed the 10th stage of the Vuelta a España from a four-man group in Murcia on Tuesday afternoon. The plucky Australian now has a stage win in each of cycling's three-week races after he finished ahead of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) and Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) beneath another day of glorious Spanish sunshine.

Escaping the clutches of a larger, 19-man breakaway group on the slopes of the fourth category Alto de la Cresta del Gallo, Gerrans raced to the finish in the company of Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Hesjedal and Fuglsang.

As the quartet swung from side-to-side on the wide highway entrance to Murcia, it was Vinokourov who opened the sprint first, anxious to stamp his return to Grand Tour racing with a win. Yet, as the Kazakh faded, the Australian emerged from from his draft to finish fastest ahead of a desperate lunge from Hesjedal.

The four were followed in by members of their earlier breakaway group before the bulk of the peloton, containing most of the favourites for overall, came home, almost four minutes behind the victor.

The stage result did nothing to affect the top-five of the general classification as Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) maintained his seven-second buffer over Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). Rabobank's Robert Gesink remains in third position, still 36 seconds behind Valverde.

With the men for overall satisfied to have protected their positions, the day belonged to Gerrans. He's built a reputation for hard-fought wins from small groups, and on the road to Murcia he stuck victoriously close to his modus operandi. As he strode to the top of a Vuelta dais bathed in Spanish evening sun, Gerrans was clearly a happy man, content that he could now add a Vuelta stage win to collection that includes stage victories at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.

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