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Ivanov wins stage nine

Serguei Ivanov won the ninth stage of the Tour de France from Pontarlier to Aix-les-Bains. The Russian Fassa Bortolo rider was suspended from racing during last year’s Tour, but has bounced back to confirm the early promise he showed during the 1997 Tour l’Avenir. The Russian’s victory gave a much needed morale boost for his team, after their leader Francisco Casagrande abandoned.

Ivanov broke away with Australian Bradley McGee and Euskaltel rider David Etxebarria after just 36 kilometres and stayed clear despite the chase of a hungry Telekom team, who were in the hunt for Erik Zabel’s third stage victory. However the bunch mis-timed their run and with 10 kilometres to go Ivanov broke clear of his companions and soloed to victory, taking the biggest win of his career.

There are no changes at the top of the overall, so Stuart O’Grady keeps his yellow and green jerseys for one more day. Tomorrow signals the start of the mountain stages with a 209 km race to Alpe D’Huez. Last time the race finished there, Armstrong was already in yellow and was consolidating his lead. This year the Texan will face a much more difficult challenge



Stage 9, Pontarlier-Aix-les-Bains 185km

1st Serguei Ivanov (Russia, Fasso) 3h’57m’48sec
2nd David Etxebarria (Esp, Euskaltel) at 16sec
3rd Bradley McGee at 17sec
4th Erik Zabel (Ger, Telekom) at 24secs
5th Damien Nazon (Fra, Bonjour) at s.t
6th Stuart O’Grady (Aus, CA) at s.t
7th Paulo Bettini (Ita, Mapei) at s.t
8th Jose Guiterraz (Esp, Kelme) at s.t
9th Alessandro Petacchi (Ita, Fasso) at s.t
10th Sven Teutenbeurg (Ger, Festina) at s.t