PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Comunitat Valenciana's Ruben Plaza won the fourth stage of the Tour of Aragon, an 11.2km mountain time trial up to the Ermita de Herrera de los Navarros. Plaza finished 20 seconds clear of Britain's Charly Wegelius, with Luis Perez of Cofidis another 19 seconds further back in third place. The win gave Plaza a good lead going into Sunday's final stage.
This was former Spanish road champion Plaza's first win of the season in Spain, although it remains to be seen whether he might be given a belated victory from the Tour of Murcia's time trial, where he finished second to Danilo Hondo. The German sprinter later tested positive for a banned substance in that race.
Second to Perez on the easier first section of the course, Plaza timed his effort perfectly and later dedicated his victory to Efrain Gutierrez, who sustained serious injuries on stage two of the race when he crashed into a parked car. "I want to send best wishes from all the members of the peloton to Efrain because he is my friend and often my training partner," said Plaza.
Jan Ullrich was among those who suffered on the steeper part of the climb towards the finish. The T-Mobile rider came in 19th, almost two minutes down on Plaza.
Stage 4, Herrara de los Navarros-Virgen de la Sierra de Herrera
1 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 11.2km in 24.03 (27.94kph)
2 Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.20
3 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 0.39
4 Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 1.01
5 David Bernabeu (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 1.07
6 David Lopez (Spa) Euskaltel 1.12
7 Gustavo Cesar (Spa) Kaiku 1.15
8 Julian Sanchez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 1.16
9 Felix Cardenas (Col) Barloworld 1.18
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Barloworld 1.19
17 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 1.38
19 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile 1.50
1 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 13.33.02
2 Perez 0.20
3 Wegelius 0.21
4 Efimkin 0.56
5 Pascual Llorente 1.02
6 Bernabeu 1.08
7 Lopez 1.13
8 Cesar 1.16
9 Cardenas 1.19
10 Francisco Cabello (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 1.22
11 Davis 1.24
18 Ullrich 1.51
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An early 17-man breakaway was whittled down to the race-winning quartet halfway through the 60-mile, 27-lap race around the Laguna Seca race track, with Wherry's second place enough for him to take over the yellow leader's jersey from team-mate Gord Fraser, who won the opening prologue time trial. Wherry is now favourite to win the race overall with his strong Health Net team just needing to control the race on Saturday's final 100-mile road stage.
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