Tue, Sep 12, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Forster takes Tour of Spain's stage 15

AFP , ALMUSSAFES, SPAIN

Germany's Robert Forster of the Gerolsteiner team dominated a group sprint to win the 15th stage of the Tour of Spain on Sunday held over 182km between Motilla del Palancar and Almussafes.

Spanish ace Alejandro Valverde, of Caisse d'Epargne, maintained his grip on the Vuelta's leader's gold jersey ahead of yesterday's second rest day.

Forster, who claimed the final stage victory on this year's Tour of Italy, thus picked up his sixth win of the season after dominating a bunch sprint in a time of 4 hours, 24 minutes, 55 seconds.

In close second place was Australian Stuart O'Grady of CSC, with Italian Danilo Napolitano of Lampre finishing just ahead of Norwegian Thor Hushovd and Italy's Olympic champion Paolo Bettini.

Overall, Valverde was 48 seconds ahead of Kazakhstan's Andrey Kashechkin and 1 minute 25 seconds in front of compatriot Carlos Sastre.

Forster was in a group of about 40 riders and managed to win over the final few meters in a tight bunch sprint.

"It was a very important victory," Forster said. "The final kilometer was difficult however and it was Haselbacher who caused me to make my move. I was tight on the wheel of Napolitano and at 150m from the finish, I tried my luck."

"It was a very rough, confusing sprint, with a lot of elbows flying around," he added.

Valverde said it was a stage which contrasted in the way it started and finished.

"The sprint finish was very dangerous," Valverde said. "The first part of the stage was a very calm affair but it was very dangerous at the end."

After yesterday's rest day, the riders resume today with a 145km stage in the mountains, including two first category climbs and a then a climb so difficult it cannot be classified to the finish at Calar Alto at 2,090m high.

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