Cycling: Boardman falls off the pace

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The Independent Online
Chris Boardman, who has worn the yellow jersey from the prologue of the Tour of Catalonia, lost it after yesterday's stage.

The Dutch rider, Bo Hamburger, won the 148-mile seventh stage from Gerona in Spain to Pal, Andorra, with Boardman finishing down the field. The new race leader is the Spaniard, Fernando Escartin, whose victory in Tuesday's stage had left him 1min 36sec behind Boardman in the overall standings.

Boardman was unable to cope with the relentless pace set by Escartin and his Kelme team-mates in the final section of the stage.

Oskar Camenzind won the ninth stage of the Tour of Switzerland yesterday, narrowing to just over two minutes the overall lead of France's Christophe Agnolutto.

The Swiss rider covered the 195.9km (121.7 miles) from Wetzikon in 5hr 17min 22sec. Some 18km (11.2 miles) from the finish, he broke away from the pack and crossed the line a comfortable 1min 6sec ahead of the second- placed Jan Ullrich of Germany and the third-placed Leonardo Piepoli of Italy.

Agnolutto, who built up a lead of 11min 32sec in the early stages, finished 19th, some 2min 53sec behind Camenzind. The difference may be too much for Camenzind to make up on the final stage to Zurich today.

"Under normal circumstances Agnolutto is a deserving champion," Camenzind said. But the Frenchman was cautious. "The tour isn't over until Zurich," he said.

The Tour de France winner, Bjarne Riis, who was in 14th place after Tuesday's stage in the Swiss race, dropped out before yesterday's stage because of bronchial problems. The race organisers said he wanted to rest before defending his title in France.