Who said Colombians couldn?t sprint? Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) set the record straight with a vengeance in Tuesday?s stage 16 of the Vuelta as he easily outpowered Russian Alexander Kolobnev (CSC) and Spain?s Joan Horrach (Caisse D?Epargne).

The three were part of a day-long break of 17, all of them non-threats overall, that went clear after an hour?s racing on the 165 kilometre stage – hilly enough in the first half to ensure there was no bunch sprint and open up a good time gap on the main bunch, and with false flats aplenty in the last 30 kilometres to make for an entertaining last half hour.

After Duque, Kolobnev and Horrach had finally eased their way clear of the 13 other breakaways the Colombian tried to surprise the other two just before the finish in Puertollano.

His first move didn?t work, but as Duque pointed out later, his prolongued acceleration ensured it was still just three riders off the front at the finish ?because otherwise the rest of the break would have caught us again.?

If Kolobnev and Horrach thought Duque would be easier to outsprint as a result, they were sorely mistaken.

Instead the Colombian easily outpowered the two other breakaways to cross the line a couple of bike-lengths clear for the 27-year-old?s first ProTour win of his career, and to prove the myth that Colombians can’t sprint is just that – a myth.

Overall for Denis Menchov (Rabobank), stage 16 represented another day less en route to victory in Madrid. Barring major accident or misfortunate, the Russian is now just five stages away from celebrating his second victory in the Vuelta.

Tour of Spain stage 16 Jaen – Puertollano 165km
1 Leonardo Duque (Colombia) Cofidis 4-00-39
2 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) CSC
3 Joan Horrach (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne all st
4 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 6 sec
5 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Liquigas
6 Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
7 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis
8 David López (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
9 Jean-Marc Marino (Fra) Crédit Agricole
10 Jose Ruiz Sanchez (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur all st
37 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas at 7-43

Denis Menchov is still in the race lead after stage 16. Photos by Graham Watson

Overall standings after 16 stages
1 Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank 66-40-49
2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne at 2-01
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor – Lotto at 2-27
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC at 3-02
5 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi at 4-01
6 Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Karpin Galicia at 4-35
7 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas at 5-15
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne at 6-17
9 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quickstep – Innergetic at 6-22
10 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi at 7-41
131 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas at 1-47-42


TOUR OF SPAIN 2007: STAGE REPORTS
Stage 15: Menchov stays on top
Stage 14: Almost goodbye, but Discovery still winning
Stage 13: Klier ends four-year gap with win
Stage 12: Petacchi racks up the wins
Stage 11: Petacchi puts troubles behind him for stage win
Rest day review
Stage 10: Menchov proves he’s the boss
Stage nine: Menchov takes control
Stage eight (TT): Devolder soars to race lead
Stage seven: Zabel surprise winner
Stage six: Freire outguns Petacchi for stage hat-trick
Stage five: Freire takes second bunch sprint victory
Stage four: Efimkin upstages favourites in Vuelta
Stage three: Bettini bounces back with Vuelta stage win
Stage two: Freire nets stage win and Vuelta lead
Stage one: Bennati takes race lead in bunch sprint
Tour of Spain preview, including stage and team list

RELATED LINKS
Astana out of 2007 Tour of Spain
Eurosport cycling TV schedule for September
Vuelta confirms support for ASO in ProTour row
Vinokourov wins 2006 Tour of Spain overall

Official site: www.lavuelta.com.