Swiss rider Martin Elmiger handed his Phonak team a welcome victory in the 162km third stage of the Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon in Aigues-Mortes on Friday.
Elmiger, a 25-year-old mountain-bike specialist who also plays golf and skis cross country, welcomed the win with open arms after believing he had been pipped at the line.
Ukrainian Yuryi Krivtsov (AG2r Prevoyance) threw everyone, including the race announcer, into disarray when he raised his arms in victory after crossing the finish line. But Elmiger was given the decision after a photo finish indicated he had won by three one-thousandths of a second.
“I just threw my bike across the finish line. I didn’t look to see beside me, but I didn’t think I’d won,” said Elmiger, who picked up his sixth victory of the season.
Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) retained the overall lead on a day where Lance Armstrong and his U.S. Postal teammates eased up in the saddle ahead of two tough days of riding, when their form going into this year’s Tour de France will be put to the test.
Saturday’s 161km stage from Pont-du-Gard to Mende includes three first-category climbs while Sunday’s 203km stage from Florac to Sete features the double climbing of the Mount St Clair. As the mountains loom, Armstrong sits 44th overall, 31 seconds behind Hushovd.
1. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, 3:30:00
2. Yuryi Krivtsov (Ukr), AG2r Prevoyance, same time
3. Inaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel, s.t.
4. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole, s.t.
5. Bernhard Eisel (A), Fdjeux.com, s.t.
6. Sven Vanthourenhout (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, s.t.
7. Franck Renier (F), Brioches La Boulangere, s.t.
8. Andre Korff (G), T-Mobile, s.t.
9. Jerome Pineau (F), Brioches La Boulangere, s.t.
10. Wesley Van der Linden (B), Vlaanderen-T-Interim, s.t.
1. Hushovd, 12:07.37
2. Pineau, at 0:08
3. Samuel Dumoulin (F) AG2r Prevoyance, s.t.
4. Elminger, at 0:11
5. Krivtsov, at 0:18
6. Eisel, at 0:21
7. Vanthourenhout, s.t.
8. Enrico Degano (I) Barloworld, at 0:23
9. Egoi Martinez (Sp) Euskaltel, s.t.
10. Renier, at 0:24
Van Heeswijk scores in Tour of Belgium
Dutch sprinter Max Van Heeswijk (U.S. Postal Service) came out on top in a frenzied sprint to the finish line of the Tour of Belgium’s third stage in Buggenhout on Friday.
Van Heeswijk, brought into the American outfit to bolster their spring-classics campaign, managed to escape a pile-up on the home straight that left a number of riders on the ground.
Former race leader Geert Omloop (MrBookmaker.com), the Belgian champion, and his compatriot Tom Boonen (Quick Step) were involved in the crash, which occurred at the front of the peloton about 1km from the finish line, just as the sprinters were priming themselves. Some of the would-be contenders had to brake as others joined the pile-up.
Van Heeswijk managed to avoid the turmoil to hold off Estonian Janek Tombak (Cofidis), his Dutch compatriot Bart Hiemstra (Chocolade Jacques) and Britain’s Roger Hammond (MrBookmaker.com), who came fourth.
Italian Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre) becomes the new race leader thanks to bonus seconds won on the 194km stage from Knokke-Heist to here.
On Saturday two stages will be held around the town of Mechelen: a 13km individual time trial held in the morning followed by a 115km race in the afternoon. – Copyright 2004/AFP
1. Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) U.S. Postal, 4:46:26
2. Janek Tombak (Est), Cofidis, same time
3. Bert Hiemstra (Ned), Chocolade Jacques, s.t.
4. Roger Hammond (GB), MrBookmaker.com, s.t.
5. Manuel Quinziato (I), Lampre, s.t.
6. Thomas Voeckler (F), Brioches la Boulangere, s.t.
7. Jimmy Engoulvent (F), Cofidis, s.t.
8. Bart Voskamp (Ned), ,Chocolade Jacques, s.t.
9. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Brioches la Boulangere, s.t.
10. Matthew White (F), Cofidis, s.t.
1. Gianluca Bortolami (I), Lampre, 13:12:37
2. Geert Omloop (B) MrBookmaker.com, at 0:01
3. Mikhail Timochine (Rus), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, at 0:03
4. Van Heeswijk, at 0:06
5. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, at 0:07
6. Tombak, at 0:08
7. Stefan van Dijk (Ned), Lotto-Domo, at 0:11
8. Quinziato, s.t.
9. Hiemstra, at 0:13
10. Thomas Vockler (F), Brioches la Boulangere, s.t.