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By Andrew Hood
The sprinters were back in their element in Saturday’s fourth stage at the Tour Mediterranean with Colombian Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) snagging the victory.
Duque is unique that he’s fast in the flats while most of his compatriots do best when the road heads uphill.
A day after Alexandre Botcharov (Crédit Agricole) climbed his way into the leader’s jersey atop Mont Faron, Duque out-duked French fast man Jimmy Casper (Agritubel) with Belarussian Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJeux) coming through third in the 152km fourth stage between Saint-Cannat and Marignane.
Botcharov finished safely in the pack to retain his grip going into Sunday’s finale. He holds a 45-second lead on David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and 1:08 on Michael Albasini (Liquigas).
Early in the stage, four riders tried in vain to peel away from the grip of the main pack. Once checked, last year’s winner Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) tried a surprise move in the late stages with 2.5km to go, but he too was foiled.
From there, the sprinters moved to the fore, but Duque shot ahead to claim the day’s spoils in a hotly contested battle.
The 35th Tour Med concludes Sunday with the 117km stage from Sauvian to Gruissan.