Stage 4: Pollenca to Port d'Alcudia, 168.4km/104.5mi
- by Cathy Mehl / photo © Graham Watson

Feb 13, 2008

:: Official race web site: www.vueltamallorca.com/challenge08

Racing with power and determination in each stroke, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador wasted no time in showing his true place in the peloton, and yes, that would be at the front when climbing the mountains. Fresh on the heels of ASO's announcement that Team Astana would not be invited to any of their privately-owned races - including the Tour de France - 2007 champion Contador quietly made a statement on his bike by chasing down a break and easily passing them to ride solo until the final 8km of racing. Yelling into the television camera, "Astana to the Tour!" as he was caught by the main field, Contador left no questions unanswered as to how he feels about being unable to defend his well-earned title in 2007.

On the next-to-last stage of the 17th Challenge Mallorca 161 riders lined up to once again face the mountains. A break of five riders escaped off the front after 60km of racing as the rain began to fall. The group steadily built a gap that went to almost 10 minutes before Contador took matters into his own hands and simply went after them.

Catching the group and taking no prisoners, Contador blew by the riders and continued solo on the climb. With 22km of racing still to go he held a margin of 1:24 with Caisse d'Epargne leading the charge from behind. With other teams cooperating the gap continued to fall and by 10km to go Alberto's time buffer was reduced to 50 seconds and he was caught with less than 8km to go.

Approaching the line Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert (FdJ) took the win on the line in a bumpy sprint which caused Jose Rojas to crash into the barriers. Gilbert beat out Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) and Maarten Wynants (Quick Step) and retains the overall lead for another day. Thursday's final stage offers the last opportunities for upsetting the small margin of three seconds that Gilbert still holds as the Challenge Mallorca comes to a close.

*Beyond the Finish Line: About 27km (17 miles) north of Palma is Inca, the island's second-largest city and Majorca's market and agricultural center. Thursday is market day for farming equipment and livestock, but visitors will be more interested in the variety of low-priced leather goods -- shoes, purses, jackets, and coats -- sold here. In general, stores in Inca selling these leather goods are open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 7pm, Saturday 9:30am to noon. You can plan to attend tomorrow!


Contador on the attack!

Stage 4 Results
1 GILBERT, Philippe BEL FRANCAISE DES JEUX 4:24:17
2 LANGEVELD, Sebastian NED RABOBANK mt.
3 WYNANTS, Maarten BEL QUICK STEP mt.
4 COLOM, Antonio ESP ASTANA mt.
5 GALDOS, Aitor ESP EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI mt.
6 DE MAAR, Marc NED RABOBANK mt.
7 RAST, Gregori SUI ASTANA mt.
8 HOJ, Frank DEN COFIDIS Credit P.Tel mt.
9 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI mt.
10 DOMINGEZ, Gustavo ESP KARPIN GALICIA mt.

Team Astana Results
44 MAZET, Julien FRA mt.
60 JOACHIM, Benoit LUX mt.
62 NOVAL, Benjamin ESP mt.
66 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP mt.
67 MORABITO, Steve SUI mt.

General Classification after Stage 4
1 GILBERT, Philippe BEL FRANCAISE DES JEUX 14:22:12
2 PEREZ, Aitor ESP EXTREMADURA-G. Galla mt.
3 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI a 03
4 COLOM, Antonio ESP ASTANA a 03
5 BRU, Yon ESP EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI a 03
6 ALBIZURI, Benat ESP EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI a 03
7 MOSQUERA, Ezequiel ESP KARPIN GALICIA a 03
8 ROSENDO, Jesus ESP ANDALUCIA-CAJASUR a 03
9 LOSADA, Alberto ESP CAISSE D`EPARGNE a 03
10 CARRARA, Matteo ITA QUICK STEP a 03

Team Astana on GC after Stage 4
20 80 JOACHIM, Benoit LUX ASTANA a 21
25 91 NOVAL, Benjamin ESP ASTANA a 12:00

* Results provided by www.vueltamallorca.com/challenge08