Road

Sunday’s EuroFile: Ag2r sweep at Bessèges; Cipo’ crashes at Etruschi

French team Ag2r enjoyed a banner day Sunday in the final day of theEtoile de Bessèges, claiming the overall title with Laurent Brochardand the stage victory for veteran sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu.Thirteen riders escaped early in the 145.8km stage between Pont Gaignièresand Bessèges and stayed away until the final lap on the finishingcircuit. Kirsipuu surged ahead of Saulius Ruskys (MBK-Oktos) to take hissecond stage of the five-day race.Stuart O’Grady (Cofidis) nipped former teammate and rival Thor Hushovd(Credit Agricole) to take third, but the Aussie didn’t win a stage in hisseason debut.

By Andrew Hood

French team Ag2r enjoyed a banner day Sunday in the final day of theEtoile de Bessèges, claiming the overall title with Laurent Brochardand the stage victory for veteran sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu.Thirteen riders escaped early in the 145.8km stage between Pont Gaignièresand Bessèges and stayed away until the final lap on the finishingcircuit. Kirsipuu surged ahead of Saulius Ruskys (MBK-Oktos) to take hissecond stage of the five-day race.Stuart O’Grady (Cofidis) nipped former teammate and rival Thor Hushovd(Credit Agricole) to take third, but the Aussie didn’t win a stage in hisseason debut. Hushovd won stage three while Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet)took the opening-day honors and Ag2r won three stages, two with Kirsipuuand one stage win and the overall title with Brochard.Brochard gained the overall lead after winning Saturday’s stage as partof a breakaway that took more than 10 minutes on the main bunch. The 36-year-oldheads to Wednesday’s start of the Tour Méditerranéen, wherehe finished second overall last year.Etoile de Bessèges (UCI 2.3)
Stage 5, Bessèges,Gagnières to Bessèges, 148 km
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Ag2r, 148 km in 3:12:27
2. Saulius Ruskys (Lit), MBK-Oktos
3. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Cofidis
4. Thor Hushovd (N), Credit Agricole
5. Jo Planckaert (B), Mr Bookmakers — all same timeFinal overall standings
1. Laurent Brochard (F), Ag2r, 18:10:37
2. Sylvain Calzati (F), MBK-Oktos +0:08
3. Joseba Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel +0:10
4. Staf Scheirlinckx (B) +1:26
5. Pierrick Fedrigo (F) , Credit Agricole same timeMitlushenko wins Etruschi, Cipo’ okay
Ukraine Yuri Mitlushenko (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) won Sunday’s 197kmGP Costa degli Etruschi to open the 2004 racing calendar in Italy.Mitlushenko, who won the race in 2002, won a sprint out of a group of20 riders. The peloton was split after 2002 world champion Mario Cipollini(Domina Vacanze) went down hard about 2.5km from the finish line.Domina Vacanze team was setting up the sprint when Cipollini lookedto clip a tire and fell. The Lion King walked away relatively uninjured,his helmet saving him from serious injury. Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) didn’tcrash, but was caught up behind riders.GP Costa degli Etruschi (UCI 1.3)
1. Yuri Mitlushenko (Ukr), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago,197km 4:58:40
2. Andrus Aug (Est), Domina Vacanze
3. Crescenzo D’Amore (I), Tenax
4. Elio Aggiano (I), LPR
5. Andrea Ferrigato (I), Acqua e Sapone — all same timeBarbosa wins Portuguese opener
Candido Barbosa (LA Pecol) won a bunch sprint Sunday to take the openingstage of the GP Correos de Portugal. Spanish sprinter Angel Edo (Milaneza)was second while Nuno Marta (Wurth) came through third. The race continuesthrough Tuesday.GP Correos de Portugal, Stage 1
1. Candido Barbosa (Por), LA Pecol 3:31:35
2. Angel Edo (Sp), Milaneza
3. Nuno Marta (Por), Wurth
4. Alberto Benito (Sp), Antarte
5. Alberto Hierro (Sp), Cafes Baque — all same time