Cycling: Ludwig sprints from third to fore

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OLAF LUDWIG had it all figured out when he cut a frustrating string of seconds and thirds with a sprint victory in the Kellogg's Tour on a day when the racing matched the ups and downs of the spectacular countryside. The German resisted a late dive for the line by the Dane Jesper Skibby for his fourth victory of the year in the fourth stage at Leicester.

'I have finished six or eight times behind the winner this season,' Ludwig said after trimming 10 seconds from his overnight deficit on the Tour leader, Maurizio Fondriest of Italy, by virtue of his win bonus, a deduction from his aggregate time.

Fondriest was in the group of 58 who Ludwig's team-mates led into the finish. 'With two of my Telekom team-mates maintaining a very fast pace in the last two kilometres, I stayed third. It made the sprint not so hard for me.'

He cannot escape being the Third Man. The Seoul Olympic champion is third overall, 33 seconds behind Fondriest, and last year in Oslo he was third in the world road race championship. Ludwig also had a third in the Tour de France after managing three second placings, including one at Portsmouth.

On the debit side Fondriest, one day from overall victory, lost team- mate Mirko Gualdi, who broke his collar bone when his wheels clipped the kerb at Nantwich. He was one of 13 riders to drop out yesterday. The first was the Australian Phil Anderson who has won the Tour twice in three years. An X-ray showed a chip fracture in the right arm he injured in Tuesday's spill, and he has withdrawn so as to aid his recovery in time for the Commonwealth Games. Hennie Kuiper, Anderson's team manager, said the rider was having medical treatment to drain swelling on his arm. 'It is best that he leaves the race now and we will decide later if he is fit enough to compete in Sunday's World Cup race at Leeds.' Anderson won the Commonwealth road race title 16 years ago and now that the Games are open to professionals, he will be riding in the road race and 100-kilometre team time trial.

Tchmil, who won in Liverpool on Wednesday, pulled out as the hills and the 60 kph pace spread- eagled the field of 99, and those who stayed arrived between 20 and 40 minutes after Ludwig.

KELLOGG'S TOUR OF BRITAIN Fourth stage Chester to Leicester 120.2 miles): 1 O Ludwig (Telekom, Ger) 4:40:32; 2 J Skibby (TVM, Den); 3 E Zabel (Telekom, Ger); 4 J Svorada (Lampre, Slovakia); 5 G Coltman (Raleigh, GB); 6 M De Clercq (Lotto, Bel) all same time. Stage team: 1 Telekom 14:01:36, 2 TVM, 3 Lotto all same time. Overall: 1 M Fondriest (Lampre, It) 17:03:34;2 V Ekimov (Wordperfect, Rus) 24;3 Ludwig 33; 4 R Aldag (Telekom, Ger) 54; 5 S Yates (Motorola, GB) 55; 6 J Svorada 56. Overall team: 1 Lampre 45:50:38; 2 TVM 45:50:55; 3 GB-MG Maglifico same time. Points classification: 1 Ludwig 33pts; 2 Svorada 32; 3 Skibby 25. Sprints: 1 B Luckwell (FS Maestro, GB) 18pts; 2 M Walsham (Choice Accountancy, GB) 11; 3 G Van Bondt (Trident-Schick, Belgium) 10. Mountains: 1 S Sunderland (TVM, Australia) 51pts; 2 Luckwell 24; 3 Fondriest 23.