Kiryienka ends long drought with Basque stage

LEKUNBERRI, Spain Tue Apr 5, 2011 2:43pm EDT

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LEKUNBERRI, Spain (Reuters) - Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus ended a three-year drought by winning the second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country Tuesday.

Last seen raising his arms in victory after a solo break in a mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2008, the Movistar rider performed the trick again after making a break with two kilometers to go.

While a group of 21 riders dithered behind, the 29-year-old even had time to straighten his team jersey before claiming the win.

Germany's Andreas Kloeden was second to take over as race leader while Andy Schleck of Luxemberg came in third.

"Winning after all this time is a great feeling," Kiryienka told reporters. "To do so near my adopted hometown (Pamplona) is even more special.

"Our team hasn't got a real leader, so we have to make the most of stages like this one where everybody has a chance to attack.

"On the final climb close to the finish, the whole of my team moved to the front, and then I got away when the rest weren't looking. It was a gamble, but I had nothing to lose."

Kloeden moved into the overall lead ahead of Spaniards Joaquim Rodriguez, the stage one winner, and Samuel Sanchez.

RadioShack rider Kloeden won the Tour of the Basque Country outright in 2000 in one of the earliest wins of his career.

He should have no problems defending his lead on Wednesday's stage, a rolling 180 kilometer-trek from Villatuerta to Zuia-Murgia.

The Tour of the Basque Country finishes Saturday April 9, with a 24-kilometre individual time trial in Zalla.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)

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