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Friday’s EuroFile: Ekimov holds lead in Holland; Danielson racing; Plouay draws stars to France

By Andrew Hood

Leon van Bon (Lotto-Domo) won the fifth stage of the Tour of the Netherlands on Friday, a 221km stage from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Sittard, Netherlands.

Van Bon soloed in for the victory in five hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds. Marc Streel (Lanbouwkrediet-Colnago) was second at 1:06, with Manuel Quinziato (Lampre) third at 1:43.

Viatcheslav Ekimov (U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor), retains the overall lead going into Saturday’s finale, a 197km stage from Sittard-Geleen to Landgraaf. The silver medalist in the recently completed Olympic time trial bounced into the overall lead after winning Thursday´s afternoon time trial and holds a nine-second lead over Rabobank’s Marc Wauters, with Wauters’s teammate Erik Dekker third at 0:12.

Tour of Holland – Stage 5

1. Leon van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo, 221km in 5:10:28
2. Marc Streel (B), Lanbouwkrediet-Colnago, at 1:06
3. Manuel Quinziato (I), Lampre, at 1:43
4. Max van Heeswijk (Ned), U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor, at 1:47
5. Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, s.t.

1. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor, 16:23:37
2. Marc Wauters (B), Rabobank, at 0:09
3. Erik Dekker (Ned), Rabobank, at 0:12
4. David Zabriskie (USA), U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor, at 0:14
5. Leon van Bon (Ned), Lanbouwkrediet-Colnago, at 0:15

Danielson to race Sunday
Tom Danielson will race in Sunday´s GP Kanton Aargau as part of his final warmup for the 2004 Vuelta a España, which starts next weekend in Leon.

Danielson skipped this year´s Giro d’Italia when team management decided the American wasn´t quite ready for his grand-tour debut. The 26-year-old will enter the Vuelta looking to make a strong showing in the overall standings.

Plouay draws big names to France
The Grand Prix Ouest-France will be a celebration of French cycling this weekend as thousands of cyclo-tourists and the top men and women racers converge into Brittany for a weekend of racing.

There are three scheduled mountain-bike races and cyclo-tours to go along with Saturday’s women´s road race, the seventh stop on the women´s World Cup circuit, and Sunday’s men´s road race.

In the women´s race, such names as Olympic champion Sara Carrigan, Rochelle Gilmore, Fabiana Luperini, Mirjam Melchers, Edita Pucinskaite, Régina Schleicher and Zoulfia Zabirova will line up for the 118km course. World Cup leader Oenone Wood will be looking to hold her position, 42 points ahead of Zabirova and 87 points ahead of Melchers.

On Sunday, 136 riders from 16 teams are scheduled to tackle the 198km course, the same used in the world championships. The course hits such climbs as the côte du Lézot (1.2 km at 5 percent) and the Côte de Ty-Marec (1.5 km at 5.3 percent), the last just 4km from the finish.

Top names include Gianluca Bortolami, Romans Vainsteins (Lampre), David Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner), Leif Hoste (Lotto) and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet). Top French names include Pierrick Fédrigo (Crédit Agricole), Jérôme Pineau (Brioches La Boulangère), Frédéric Gabriel (MrBookmaker), Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com), Cédric Vasseur (Cofidis) and Christophe Agnolutto (Ag2r Prévoyance).

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