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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
A day after dominating the mountain time trial and taking the overall race lead, American Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) sealed the overall victory at the Route du Sud with another strong climbing performance on Tuesday as he readied for the upcoming Tour de France. Leipheimer finished ninth on the final stage, but more importantly conceded just six seconds to his closest rivals in the general classification, Andrei Kivilev (Cofidis) and Aitor Kintana Zarate (BigMat-Auber 93).
Tuesday’s 189.5km stage 4 began in Luzenac and finished with the Cat. 1 climb of the Plateau de Bonascre, above the town of Ax-les-Thermes, where the first Pyrenean stage of last year’s Tour de France finished.
After an early breakaway, the peloton regrouped on the descent of the second-to-last climb of the day, the Col de Chioula, 20km from the finish. Once the race hit the climb of the Bonascre, Domo’s Dave Bruylandt went on the attack, and would take the stage win with a five-second margin of victory. Koldo Gil Perez (iBanesto.com) led in the seven-rider chase group, which contained Kivilev and Zarate, but just behind came Leipheimer, who took the overall win by a comfortable 44-second margin over Zarate.
Leipheimer will now look ahead the July 6 start of the Tour de France in Luxembourg, where he’ll be the Rabobank team leader in his Tour debut.