Roberts wins Tour of Murcia third stage

Milram's Luke Roberts edges out Sergey Lagutin of the Vacansoleil team (Photo: AAP)

Australia's Luke Roberts who rides for the German Milram team won the third stage of the Tour of Murcia in a mass sprint finish.

Roberts edged Uzbekistan's Sergey Lagutin and Spain's Josep Jufre to the line at the end of the 166.5-kilometre stage between Las Torres de Cotillas and Alhama de Murcia.

Jufre took over the leader's yellow jersey from South Africa's Robbie Hunter, who won the first two stages but withdrew from the event early in the stage because his wife went into labour.

The win also moved Roberts into second place in the general classification behind new leader Jufre, and the former Olympic and world championship pursuit specialist is now well positioned for the fourth stage time-trial.

"That was a perfect stage for us. After our good performances the last few days weren't rewarded, that is very satisfactory for us," said Milram Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch

"Our team brought Luke Roberts and Tommy Rohregger into the finale very well. In the end there were no sprinters there and we had the strongest rider there."

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins was involved in an early nine rider break only to be reeled in by the peloton before another four-man group, including Vacansoleil's Lieuwe Westra, formed and went on to build a lead of nine minutes at the 50km mark.

Those four were caught before the major Category 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo climb began, and another five man group launched themselves into the hunt for a stage win.

However, they were caught in the final kilometre with Roberts winning the sprint ahead of Vacansoleil's Lagutin and new race leader, Astana's Jufre.

Lance Armstrong, who is on only his second stage race of the year, finished with the same time Roberts, along with early escapee Wiggins and last year's Tour of Murcia winner Dennis Menchov.

Stage 3: Las Torres de Cotillas - Alhama de Murcia 166.5km

1 Luke Roberts (Aus) Milram 4:16:47, 2 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil, 3 Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana, 4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Radioshack, 6 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank, 7 Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo, 8 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions, 9 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky, 10 José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural.

General classification:

1 Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana 12:52:39, 2 Luke Roberts (Aus) Milram, 3 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC - Columbia, 4 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil, 5 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Milram, 6 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice, 7 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil, 8 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil, 9 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank, 10 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil 0:00:05.

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