Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez defied intense heat to clinch the toughest stage of the Tour of the Basque Country for the second year running in Eibar, Spain, yesterday.
As temperatures soared on the notoriously difficult Arrate climb, the Euskaltel-Euskadi leader powered a few metres ahead of a group of 11 riders to claim victory on stage four.
Second across the line was Germany's Andreas Klöden, with Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov third and race leader Joaquim Rodriguez fourth, all tied on the same time.
Sanchez said he was pleased to have taken such a prestigious victory but admitted that failing to dislodge Rodriguez was a major disappointment. "Everybody suffered in that extreme heat, and it made what is already a very tough climb even harder," he said. "It's going to be very difficult to beat Rodriguez after he defended himself so well today."