News24

Rodriguez takes Basque lead

2012-04-05 18:19

Madrid - Spanish cyclist Joaquin Rodriguez took the overall lead of the Tour of Basque Country on Thursday after winning the fourth stage.

The Movistar cyclist took a big push toward winning the 52nd edition of the race after finishing the 151km ride nine seconds ahead of Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, the overall leader after the third stage.

Luxembourg's Frank Schleck and the Netherlands' Wouter Poels tried to get ahead in the final km of the steep, final ascent, but Rodriguez controlled before counterattacking with 500 meters to ride. Rodriguez crossed the line alone in 3 hours, 55 minutes, 56 seconds to also hold a nine-second overall advantage over fellow Spanish cyclist Sanchez.

"It was a really hard final part, but very suitable to my characteristics," Rodriguez said. "First, I was able to slipstream Schleck (and) then Poels, then I managed to pass him and win."

Sergio Luis Henao of Colombia and Robert Kiserlovski of Croatia both crossed the line 12 seconds later, while Lars Petter Nordhaug of Norway led a group 16 seconds behind in fifth.

Rodriguez leads his Euskaltel-Euskadi rival with an overall time of 16:02:02, which is 21 seconds better than American cyclist Christopher Horner of RadioShack-Nissan. Kiserlovski and Henao trail the leader by 24 seconds.

The next-to-last stage on Friday is a 183km cycle from Bera to Onati, before Saturday's time trial finale.

"Races against the clock are not my specialty, but this one will be quite technical, with many ups and downs. It won't be a classic time trial," Rodriguez said. "Now I have a nice gap so I think I have some chances, at least, to (win)."

Results on Thursday from the fourth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, a 151km stage from Eibar to Bera (with rider, nationality, team and time):


1. Joaquin Rodriguez, Spain, Katusha, 3 hours, 55 minutes, 56 seconds.
2. Samuel Sanchez, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 9 seconds behind.
3. Sergio Luis Henao, Colombia, Sky Team, :12.
4. Robert Kiserlovski, Croatia, Astana, same time.
5. Lars Petter Nordhaug, Norway, Sky Team, :16.
6. Michele Scarponi, Italy, Lampre-ISD, same time.
7. Jurgen van den Broeck, Belgium, Lotto Belisol, same time.
8. Wouter Poels, Netherlands, Vacansoleil, same time.
9. Simon Spilak, Slovakia, Katusha, same time.
10. Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Garmin-Barracuda, same time.

Overall Standings After 4 of 6 stages):

1. Joaquin Rodriguez, Spain, Katusha, 16 hours, 2 minutes, 2 seconds.
2. Samuel Sanchez, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 9 seconds behind.
3. Christopher Horner, United States, RadioShack-Nissan, :21.
4. Robert Kiserlovski, Croatia, Astana, :24.
5. Sergio Luis Henao, Colombia, Sky Team, same time.
6. Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Garmin-Barracuda, :28.
7. Wouter Poels, Netherlands, Vacansoleil, same time.
8. Jurgen van den Broeck, Belgium, Lotto Belisol, same time.
9. Lars Petter Nordhaug, Norway, Sky Team, same time.
10. Michele Scarponi, Italy, Lampre-ISD, same time.

AFP