Cycling: Bortolami holds off Ekimov

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GIANLUCA Bortolami won the Leeds International Classic yesterday when he outsprinted Viatcheslav Ekimov at the end of a tough 144-mile course through the Pennines.

Bortolami, of Italy, made his winning move in the seventh round of the World Cup series when he escaped from an 11-strong group with 6.25 miles to go. As the riders approached the bell, with a lap of the five-mile finishing circuit to complete, Ekimov, of Russia, gave chase.

He caught Bortolami half a mile into the final lap, with the rest of the group only five seconds behind. But the two riders worked together to stretch their lead to 11 seconds by the line.

Bortolami won by a length from Ekimov, and in another close sprint Bo Hamburger, of Denmark, took third place from Frankie Andreu, of America, Laurent Dufaux, of Switzerland, and Massimo Ghirotto, of Italy.

Hendrik Redant made an early bid for glory when he attacked at the 20-mile mark. He was caught by Paul van Hyfte and Geert van Bondt at the foot of the Holme Moss climb, at which point the main field was 12 minutes adrift. But by the second ascent of Holme Moss the field had virtually regrouped.