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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Ventuso sprints to surprise win
Francisco Ventoso
Ventoso is up to third place in overall standings
Francisco Ventoso out-gunned the top sprinters to take the third stage of the Tour of Spain on Monday.

The third-year professional from Spain fended off Thor Hushovd of Norway in a bunch sprint at Almendralejo, with Australian Stuart O'Grady in third.

Hushovd held on to the overall lead of the Vuelta, and now has an 11-second lead on Australian Stuart O'Grady.

Ventoso's effort saw him move to third overall, 12 seconds off the lead and just ahead of Italy's Paolo Bettini.

Ventoso initiated the charge for the line at the end of the 219 km flat run between Cordoba and Almendralejo.

"I took a big risk by accelerating hard early on and it paid off," said the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider.

Born in Cantabria, the same region as three-times world champion Oscar Freire, Ventoso rode for the Spanish squad Saunier Duval-Prodir in the junior and amateur categories before turning professional with them in 2004.

He then won the team's first professional race, a stage of the Tour of Qatar.

"After beating the world's top sprinters in Qatar when I was so inexperienced, I thought it was going to be easy to do it again," said Ventoso.

"But in fact it's taken me until today to do so again."

The fourth stage from Almendralejo to Caceres on Tuesday will be a last chance for the sprinters to snatch a win before the Vuelta's first incursion into the mountains.

The Tour of Spain finishes on 17 September in Madrid.

Stage Three results:

1. Francisco Ventoso (Spain / Saunier Duval ) 5:43:45"
2. Thor Hushovd (Norway / Credit Agricole ) ST
3. Stuart O'Grady (Australia / Team CSC )
4. Erik Zabel (Germany / Milram )
5. Robbie McEwen (Australia / Davitamon - Lotto )
6. Danilo Napolitano (Italy / Lampre )
7. Luca Paolini (Italy / Liquigas )
8. Pedro Horrillo (Spain / Rabobank )
9. Aurelien Clerc (Switzerland / Phonak )
10. Jean-Patrick Nazon (France / AG2R )

General classification:

1. Thor Hushovd (Norway / Credit Agricole ) 10:10:33"
2. Stuart O'Grady (Australia / Team CSC ) +11"
3. Francisco Ventoso (Spain / Saunier Duval ) +12"
4. Paolo Bettini (Italy / Quick-Step ) +14"
5. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway / Team CSC ) +19"
6. Nicki Sorensen (Denmark / Team CSC )
7. Lars Bak (Denmark / Team CSC )
8. Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden / Team CSC )
9. Carlos Sastre (Spain / Team CSC )
10. Vladimir Gustov (Ukraine / Team CSC )

Bettini snatches Spain stage win
27 Aug 06 |  Cycling
CSC's Sastre leads Tour of Spain
26 Aug 06 |  Cycling

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