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Thursday, March 26, 2009
Cobo wins stage; Leipheimer leads

Associated Press

LAGUNA DE LAS PECES, Spain -- Juan Jose Cobo of Spain won the fourth stage of the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon on Thursday, with Levi Leipheimer holding on to the overall lead.

Cobo finished the 90-mile stage featuring two climbs in 3 hours, 42 minutes, 3 seconds.

"This victory is very important moving forward to show that we are here," said Cobo, who rides for the Fuji-Servetto team, formerly known as Saunier Duval.

Rabobank's Denis Menchov was eight seconds back in second place and a large pack that included Leipheimer and Astana teammate Alberto Contador finished nine seconds behind.

"It was a very nice stage, as much for the mountains as for the whole course, but it was also really hard and even more aggressive than yesterday," Leipheimer said. "But I had the team and the strongest climber of the race [in Contador]."

Leipheimer's overall time of 12:15.38 remained 16 seconds faster than Contador, who turned to supporting rider to help the American cyclist stay on course for his second victory of the season.

The American won his third straight Tour of California in January.

Astana's Lance Armstrong was recovering from surgery in Austin, Texas, after breaking his collarbone in a crash on Monday that forced the seven-time Tour de France champion out of the race. He hopes to return for the Giro d'Italia, which begins May 9.

The Vuelta of Castilla and Leon ends Friday with a 95-mile stage from Benavente to Valladolid.