Day three of the Tour of Murcia finally gave climbers a chance to shine, with a yellow jersey on the line after race leader and two-time stage winner Robbie Hunter left the race after his wife went into labor.
Attacks came early and often, but with strong teams driving the front like RadioShack, Team Sky, and Garmin-Transitions, nothing stuck and a large lead group finished together, as MilramÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Luke Roberts took the final sprint into Alhama.
Early in the race one group of four riders was able to gain eight minutes over the rest of the field, as Michael Kwitakowski (Caja Rural), Nicki Westra (Vacansoleil), Jan Barta (NetApp) and Marcel Barth (German national team) got clear on a counterattack following the first break of the day being caught.
But the climbs were too much, and the group was all but caught around 20km to the finish. Almost all the strong GC contenders stayed at the front, with one final attack coming in the last few kilometers, only to be brought back just 3km from the finish.
This set up a sprint finish among those that were able to survive at the front of the peloton, and Luke Roberts (Team Milram) outkicked Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) for the win.
AstanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Josep Jufre, who finished third on the day, will move into the leaders jersey going into tomorrowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important 22km time trial, with over 20 riders within five seconds of the yellow.
Photo credit above goes to Graham Watson, view a full gallery from the third stage of the Tour of Murcia here. Stay tuned to BikeRumor for complete coverage of final two days of the Tour of Murcia.