Tour of Murcia, Stage 3: Puerto Lumbreras to San Pedro del Pinatar, 146km/91mi
- by Cathy Mehl

After a thrilling win Wednesday by Team Astana's veteran professional Jose Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera it was a calm day in the peloton on the stage leading up to the individual time trial on Friday. A break of six riders went away in Thursday's Stage 3 of the Tour of Murcia and with the highest-ranked rider on general classification being a full six minutes down to race leader Aitor Perez (G. Gallardo) the peloton allowed the group to stay off the front as the race progressed. The teams of CSC and Rabobank had the most interest in maintaining the pace as they sought for victories on the stage with their top-notch sprinters.

Working well together until the last 20km of racing, the cooperation in the breakaway group finally gave way to personal ambitions and attacks began in earnest. Playing right into the plans of the chasing peloton, the break was steadily reeled in and reabsorbed at 8km to go.

Rabobank, CSC and Euskaltel-Euskadi drove hard at the front of the race, keeping the pace high to avoid further jumps off the front. Facing stiff winds the teams of the sprinters barreled into the finish with Argentinean fast man Juan Jose Haedo (CSC) able to grab the win as he came off the wheel of Australian sprinter Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and out-sprinted Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in second place and Brown in third.

There was no change at the top of the leader board with Perez narrowly clinging to the race lead just in front of Rubiera who maintains the same time in second place. Friday's all-important time trial on the next-to-last stage should shape the final outcome of the race. With three Team Astana riders sitting in the top ten the boys in blue are poised to give a final push to secure the overall lead in the final stages of the Tour of Murcia.

Stage 3 results
1 Juan Jos Haedo (Arg) Team CSC 3.31.08 (41.49 km/h)
2 Koldo Fernndez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
3 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
4 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua Sapone - Caffe Mokambo
5 Francisco Jos Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Andaluca - Cajasur
6 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems
7 Diego Miln Jimnez (Spa) Acqua Sapone - Caffe Mokambo
8 Ricardo Serrano Gonzlez (Spa) Tinkoff Credit Systems
9 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Tinkoff Credit Systems
10 David Garcia Dapena (Spa) Karpin Galicia

20 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa)
31 Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa)
41 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz)
43 Antonio Colom Mas (Spa)
56 Janez Brajkovic (Slo)
60 Jos Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa)
63 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa)
75 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por)

General Classification after stage 3
1 Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Extremadura-Gruppo Gallardo 12.49.33 2 Jos Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Astana 3 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Tinkoff Credit Systems 0.02 4 Manuel Vazquez Hueso (Spa) Contentpolis - Murcia 0.06 5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 7 Ricardo Serrano Gonzlez (Spa) Tinkoff Credit Systems 8 Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Karpin Galicia 9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 10 Antonio Colom Mas (Spa) Astana

15 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) 1.10
52 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) 12.15
53 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) 15.09
72 Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa) 21.27
86 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) 28.51

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