Vuelta: Laiseka climbs to victory

Denis Menchov retains the leader's gold jersey, sticking close to second-plced Roberto Heras' wheel,

Denis Menchov retains the leader's gold jersey, sticking close to second-plced Roberto Heras' wheel,
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Roberto Laiseka stormed away from the group of Vuelta favourites on Tuesday's 11th stage of the Tour of Spain to take a well-deserved victory after some aggressive riding over the closing kilometres. Only the previous day's stage winner, Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), seemed prepared to chase the Spaniard in the closing kilometres of the race, with defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) and current race leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank) seemingly content to let Laiseka take the stage, Menchov constantly stuck to Heras' rear wheel, who he leads by 47 seconds. With everything back together for the final climb of the day to the finish at the Aramon Cerler ski station, a group containing Menchov, Heras, Mancebo, Carlos Sastre (CSC), Carlos Garcia Quesada (Comunitat Valenciana) and Discovery's Tom Danielson - the top six overall - established itself with 12km left to go. But from behind came Laiseka, roaring past with a spirited attack, to which Sastre then reacted. Heras, with Menchov stuck to his wheel like a limpet, went after him, with the three catching Laiseka, who latched on to the back. Mancebo and Quesada were slow to react but gradually came up to the lead group, making six with six kilometres left to race. Heras, in the 'king of the mountains' jersey, then attacked, but was marked as usual by Menchov, with Laiseka momentarily forced out of the back of the group. All back together, Mancebo was driving the group along, looking strong for a back-to-back stage win, and continued on the front when Laiseka went flying past again. The overall contenders, however, were unwilling to help Mancebo further, intent instead on keeping an eye on one another. Laiseka took the applause, and a much-needed win for his Euskaltel-Euskadi team, who have looked decidedly average this season, with Sastre leading home the group, 15 seconds behind. "A victory in the Vuelta means a lot to me and my team," said Laiseka. "We've all worked hard to win and there are still 5 or 6 days left [in the mountains] to give it another go and get into the lead." Wednesday's rest day is followed on Thursday by a flat 148km run between Logrono and Burgos. Stage 11, Andorra - Aramon Cerler 1 Roberto Laiseka (Spa) Euskaltel 187km in 5.09.38 2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 0.15 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 6 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 7 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak 0.55 8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 9 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel 10 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak Overall 1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 45.07.35 2 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wrth 0.47 3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 1.53 4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 1.57 5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 3.31 6 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 5.03 7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel 5.09 8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step 5.45 9 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 5.58 10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros 6.37 46 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 40.09
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