Cycling - Poels earns surprise win, Contador’s lead shrinks

A flurry of late surges from Wout Poels helped the Omega Pharma-QuickStep domestique escape the clutches of an elite front group and win stage four of the Tour of the Basque Country.

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Cycling - Poels earns surprise win, Contador’s lead shrinks
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Team Omega Pharma's Dutch cyclist Wouter Poels celebrates after winning the fourth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country (AFP)

Poels quickly amassed a lead in excess of 10 seconds before holding on to take a surprise victory with the chasing pack in pursuit.

The fast-finishing Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sanchez closed the winning margin to a solitary second as the pair took second and third respectively.

Valverde’s late burst reduced Alberto Contador’s GC lead by two seconds to leave the two-time Tour de France champion’s advantage at 12s.

After a series of breakaways were successfully managed by the peloton on the 151km ride from Vitoria to Eibar, the action intensified in the final five kilometres as Contador attempted to pull clear of Valverde.

The decisive move came from Simon Spilak though as he dragged Thibaut Pinot clear before Poels and Jean-Christophe Peraud made it a four-strong front group.

Poels broke clear on the Usartza climb and transformed into time-trial mode on the short final descent to keep the riders behind at bay.

And the Dutch rider held on, crossing the line with his arms aloft as he celebrated a fine solo win.

Stage four results

1. Wout Poels (Netherlands / Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 3:39:29"

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar) +2"

3. Samuel Sanchez (Spain / BMC Racing)

4. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Netherlands / Garmin) +3"

5. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands / Belkin)

6. Yury Trofimov (Russia / Katusha)

7. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing)

8. Mikel Landa (Spain / Astana)

9. Damiano Cunego (Italy / Lampre)

10. Alberto Contador (Spain / Tinkoff - Saxo)

General classification

1. Alberto Contador (Spain / Tinkoff - Saxo) 16:33:35"

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar) +12"

3. Damiano Cunego (Italy / Lampre) +36"

4. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing)

5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (France / AG2R)

6. Yury Trofimov (Russia / Katusha)

7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland / Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +41"

8. Mikel Landa (Spain / Astana) +54"

9. Wout Poels (Netherlands / Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +55"

10. Samuel Sanchez (Spain / BMC Racing) +56"

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