Vuelta 4: Igor Anton wins but can't take lead

Philippe Gilbert retains leader's jersey

Belgium's Philippe Gilbert retained the overall leader's red jersey on Tuesday after the fourth stage of the Tour of Spain, which was won by Spanish rider Igor Anton.

Anton, who rides for Euskaltel, launched an attack in the final metres of the mountainous stage from a front group of about 20 riders to cross the finish line one second ahead of Italy's Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas.

"It was superhard. These types of climbs are very complicated but this time I kept my cool and experience helped me," the 27-year-old said.

Anton finished the 183.8 kilometre stage from Malaga to Valdepenas de Jaen in southern Spain in five hours, 28 seconds to become the first Spanish stage winner of the 65th edition of the Vuelta.

Peter Velits of HTC-Columbia finished third.

Philippe gilbertjust managed to keep the leader's jersey:

Philippe Gilbert

Gilbert of Omega Pharma managed to stay with the leaders to finish in fifth place, five seconds behind Anton, and keep his red jersey.

He took the overall lead of the Vuelta on Monday after sprinting alone to the finish line ON the third stage of the race, a 157.3 kilometre ride from Marbella to Malaga.

Carlos Sastre, the 2008 Tour de France winner, fell behind on the final climb of the stage and finished the stage in 25th place, one minute and 34 seconds behind the winner.

"I'm not at my best at the moment but I am still feeling enthusiastic and that motivates me to keep fighting on every day -- even though I can see that there are a lot of people who have come to the race feeling a lot fresher than myself," he said.

"When I decided to compete in the Vuelta, I knew that my decision to ride in three big tours in one season was a difficult challenge, especially in a year in which, for various reasons, I have been on an awkward footing with falls, setbacks and medical problems," he added.

The Vuelta continues on Wednesday with the 198.8-kilometre stage from Guadix to Lorca in southwestern Spain.

The 21-stage Tour of Spain, which began on Saturday with a nocturnal time trial through the streets of Seville, wraps up in Madrid on September 19.

© AFP 2010

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