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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Rodriguez takes stage win
Roberto Heras is still wearing the yellow jersey
Spaniard Javier Pascual Rodriguez outsprinted Colombian Ivan Parra to win the 18th stage of the Tour of Spain from Bejar to Avila on Thursday.

The victory was the Kelme team's fourth stage win of the race.

"I knew I was stronger than Ivan in the sprint and after we didn't do so well as a squad on Wednesday, this was an opportunity we couldn't miss," he said.

Compatriot Roberto Heras, riding for the Liberty team, retained the overall race lead.

Rodriguez came out on top after an escape by a group of 10 riders, the breakaway made up of riders without any realistic chance of winning the event on Sunday.

The group containing the leaders, including Heras, came in one minute and 24 seconds behind Rodriguez.

Heras reacted impressively to successive attacks from Francisco Mancebo and Santiago Perez at Navalmoral, the last difficult climb of the day.

Stage 18 results:

1 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Kelme 5:02:59secs
2 Ivan Parra (Col) Cafes Baque same time
3 Joan Horrach (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto +19secs
4 Hernan Buenahora (Col) Cafes Baque same time
5 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Vini Caldirola +24secs
6 Cedric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis +35secs
7 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick Step +37secs
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme +1:24
8 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto same time
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola same time
8 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros same time
8 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak same time
8 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis same time
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC same time

Overall standings:

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 68:33:04
2 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak +1:13secs
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme +2:15
4 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto +2:16
5 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros +6:08
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC +7:56
7 Angel Gomez (Spa) Paternina-Costa +10:21
8 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Kelme +11:18
9 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis +12:25
10 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal +12:56

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Perez wins again
19 Sep 04  |  Cycling
Perez storms to stage win
18 Sep 04  |  Cycling
Petacchi storms home
17 Sep 04  |  Cycling
Heras grabs lead in Spain
16 Sep 04  |  Cycling
Zabriskie scores lone win
14 Sep 04  |  Cycling
Jimenez takes stage victory
13 Sep 04  |  Cycling

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