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Rediff.com  » Sports » Popovych wins Tour's 12th stage

Popovych wins Tour's 12th stage

July 15, 2006 13:41 IST

Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych restored some pride for the Discovery Channel team when he led a 115-km breakaway to clinch the 12th stage of the Tour de France over 211.5 kms from Luchon to Carcassonne on Friday.

Popovych decisively attacked a group of four riders three kms from the finish to grab his first stage victory on the world's greatest cycling race one day after his team's failure in the Pyrenees.

Italy's Alessandro Ballan took second place 27 seconds behind Popovych with Oscar Freire of Spain finishing third 29 seconds off the pace.

Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel, looking to shine on Bastille Day, had to settle for fourth 35 seconds behind Popovych.

Ukrainian Popovych, a former team mate of seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong jumped to 10th in the overall standings.

But he is 4:15 adrift of American Floyd Landis, the Phonak rider who retained his yellow jersey after crossing the line 4:25 behind Popovych safe in the bunch.

"I'm not worried. I don't think Popovych is a threat after what he showed in the Pyrenees," said Phonak team manager John Lelangue.

"It was very difficult after the stage I had yesterday," said Popovych, who ended Thursday's stage 6:25 off the pace.

"Today, I knew that with Freire I could not win a sprint finish so I attacked as much as I could.

"I know I have no more ambition in the overall standings so we have to win stages now."

Popovych, 26, won last year's white jersey for the best young rider.

The stage got off to a nervous start with American George Hincapie trying to make amends for his failure on Thursday. He broke away after 24 kms along with German Jens Voigt, Italian Giuseppe Guerini and Spaniard Oscar Pereiro.

The quartet opened a one-minute gap after being joined by 11 other riders, only for them to be caught by the main pack some 120 kms from the line.

It looked like the stage would be another bad day for the Discovery Channel team after their failure in the Pyrenees and they were reduced to seven men with Spaniard Benjamin Noval and double Giro d'Italia champion Paolo Savoldelli pulling out.

However, Popovych was brave enough to break away and beat his companions in a tactical finish to save the team's honour.

Saturday's 13th stage will take the peloton over 230 kms from Beziers to Montelimar.

 

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