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Friday’s EuroFile: Sanchez leads Pais Vasco; Schumacher wins Sarthe; Sutherland draws ban

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) retained the overall race lead of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco after French rider Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) won Friday's 178km fifth stage fromVitoria to Zalla. Voeckler, 26, who wore the yellow leader's jersey for a week in the 2004 Tour de France, just edged out Germany's Jens Voigt (CSC) in a furious sprint for the line after the pair went off as part of a 10-man breakaway at the 6km mark. Three riders broke clear of the leaders in the last 15km and Voeckler proved strongest as he wrapped up his 16th career stage victory, his first this

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By Agence France Presse

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) retained the overall race lead of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco after French rider Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) won Friday’s 178km fifth stage fromVitoria to Zalla.

Voeckler, 26, who wore the yellow leader’s jersey for a week in the 2004 Tour de France, just edged out Germany’s Jens Voigt (CSC) in a furious sprint for the line after the pair went off as part of a 10-man breakaway at the 6km mark.

Three riders broke clear of the leaders in the last 15km and Voeckler proved strongest as he wrapped up his 16th career stage victory, his first this season.

Of the 10-strong group, including Voekler and Voigt, only Ukrainian Andriy Grivko (Milram) posed any real threat to the race leader with a 3:45 deficit. But although the break opened up a three-minute gap at one stage it was closed to little over two minutes by the end.

Overall leader Sanchez shares the same time as compatriot Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros), with the two riders just two seconds ahead of Italy’s Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

The race ends Saturday with a 24km time trial at Zalla. With the top 11 riders, including Tour de France hopeful Alessandro Valverde of Spain (Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears), separated by only 10 seconds, Sanchez and Contador will have more than just each other to look out for.

Stage
1. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, 178km in 4:18:42
2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, same time
3. Juan Jose Cobo (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:12
4. Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Sp), Kaiku, at 0:34
5. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Crédit Agricole, s.t.

Overall
1. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 19:58:54
2. Alberto Contador (Sp), Liberty Seguros, same time
3. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, at 0:02
4. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), Cofidis, s.t.
5. Cadel Evans (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.

Schumacher wins Sarthe
German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) won the 54th edition of the Circuit de la Sarthe cycling race on Friday.

Italian Alessandro Bertolini (Selle Italia) won the fourth and final stage, a 184km leg between Ernee and Le Mans.

Stage
1. Alessandro Bertolini (I), Selle Italia, 184.4km in 4:21:35
2. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr), T-Mobile, s.t.
3. Christopher Sutton (Aus), Cofidis, at 0:06
4. Aitor Galdos Alonso (Sp), Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
5. Geoffroy Lequatre (F), Cofidis, s.t.

Final overall
1. Stefan Schumacher (G), Gerolsteiner, 668.3km in 16:30:40
2. Serhiy Honcher (Ukr), T-Mobile, s.t.
3. Brian Vandborg (Den), CSC, at 0:03
4. Ivan Basso (I), CSC, s.t.
5. Sergiy Matveyev (Ukr), Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, at 0:05

Sutherland banned for 15 months
Australian cyclist Rory Sutherland was given a 15-month ban Friday after failing a drugs test at the Tour of Germany last year, an official told AFP.

Sutherland, who was sacked by Rabobank last October following the results of a second analysis of his sample, was banned by the Belgian cycling federation.

The 24-year-old had tested positive for clomiphene and hydroxy-clomiphene last August and is banned until December 15.