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It would be no surprise to find out that Euskaltel team boss Miguel Madariaga is spending Wednesday evening trying to set up a meeting with his team's sponsor to discuss a deal for next year following a second successive win by Samuel Sanchez at the Tour of the Basque Country.
Recently implored to be more prominent by Euskaltel chairman Jos Antonio Ardanza, who is also a former Basque regional president and carries significant weight in the region, Madariaga's team have battled hard this season but had not tasted victory until Sanchez provided the breakthrough yesterday. Now there is simply no way of not noticing them.
Sanchez's orange support team spent most of the second half of the stage chasing down a break by former team-mate Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel) and Cofidis's Ivan Parra, then kept things tight over three third-cat climbs in the closing kilometres.
The race concluded with a fourth third-cat hill up into the town of Lerin. At not much more than a kilometre it wasn't long, but it was steep enough to string out a large leading group that had been pretty compact at its foot. There the first attack came from another Cofidis rider, Leonardo Bertagnolli, who's been very lively this week.
Three hundred metres from the line, though, the gradient steepened, and a group closed in on the Italian. From the back of it, Sanchez's yellow jersey and orange shorts suddenly emerged, as the Asturian launched an attack that no one could follow, an attack made by a rider who is sure that he is going to win.
As on stage two, Sanchez's success did not take him clear of second-placed Alberto Contador on time, but that won't worry him or Se¤or Madariaga tonight, as they contemplate two victories in a row and taking the yellow jersey into the Basque capital of Vitoria tomorrow.
Stage 3, Segura-Lerin
1 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 170km in 4.07.36 (41.20kph)
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Liberty Seguros
4 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis
5 Jos Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
7 Antonio Colom (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.06
8 Miguel A. M. Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak
9 Ricardo Serrano (Spa) Kaiku 0.08
10 Michael Boogerd (Hol) Rabobank
1 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 11.40.58
3 Rebellin 0.02
6 Perdiguero 0.08
8 Gomez Marchante 0.09
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.10
10 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile
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