Cycling: Pantani unchained

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MARCO PANTANI made a remarkable recovery yesterday after losing his chain, passing his chief rivals during a late uphill surge to take the Tour of Italy's 15th stage and increase his overall lead.

The defending champion was with the main group of riders when the chain mishap meant he lost more than 30 seconds adjusting his bicycle, but five Mercatone Uno teammates waited to help him begin the tough trek to catch the leaders in warm temperatures.

The star climber, who also won last year's Tour de France, covered the 89 miles from Racconigi to Oropa, a town in the foothills of the Alps, in 3hr 47 min 31 sec. Laurent Jalabert was 21 seconds further back, followed by Gilberto Simoni, of Italy, Ivan Gotti and Daniel Clavero.

Pantani increased his overall lead to 1min 54sec ahead of Paolo Savoldelli. Jalabert is third.