Cycling: Sciandri reaps rewards of teamwork - Robin Nicholl with the Tour of Britain

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The Independent Online
MAX SCIANDRI'S quest for the winner's colours strengthened yesterday as his jousting for a crucial advantage opened his lead to 11 seconds on the rain- soaked road to Coventry.

'My team have done the work to keep me in the leader's yellow jersey, particularly Sean Yates. He is incredible,' the Italian said after finishing seventh, two seconds behind the stage winner, Andrei Tieteriouk, from Kazakhstan.

The tireless efforts of the towering Yates to check any threats to his Motorola team-mate left the Derby-born Sciandri free to use his sprint profitably.

Yesterday he plucked four seconds in time deductions from his total time with second placings at two intermediate sprints; the second on a rain-washed and slippery finishing circuit.

'I have to watch Adri van der Poel. He is pretty fast,' Sciandri said. 'I am glad though that there is only one day remaining, but I am feeling confident that I can keep the jersey with the help of my team.

'It only takes a slip, though, particularly on such a greasy circuit as that at Coventry.'

Van der Poel is the Italian's biggest threat especially with today's leg from Nottingham taking in the Snake Pass and Holme Moss climbs before finishing in Leeds city centre.

Yates will be on hand to champion Sciandri's cause with his remorseless front-riding style that has earned him the nickname of 'The Beast'.

Yates was among yesterday's fallers and escaped undamaged, but Harald Maier, the Austrian champion, finished the day with a cut eye that would have stopped most boxing bouts.

Ireland's Martin Earley and Dave Mann, of Britain, crashed on Wednesday but yesterday they counter-punched themselves into second and third places at Coventry.

'I knew the circuit would be dangerous in the rain,' Earley said. 'When Dave attacked I thought that it would be a good time to go. Then Tieteriouk jumped us with two corners to go.'

It was Tieteriouk's second success as a professional, and followed the Hull victory of his team-mate and flat-mate, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, one of three CIS riders in the Italian Carrera team.

Their team-mate, Remo Rossi, made a bold bid for victory with a solo that lasted 67 kilometres, and died on the finishing circuit when Mann broke free.

The Italian's brave foray came after a dozing field had passed Belvoir Castle. He began the charge, and was accompanied by an English knight - Sir James Savile braving the elements in an open-top car - as he pedalled through Leicestershire to a lead of more than five minutes.

However, a banner proclaiming 'Vinci Maxim' could not have done much for Rossi's confidence knowing that his efforts would be upstaged by the Sciandri cohorts' drive for victory.

KELLOGG'S TOUR OF BRITAIN Stage Four (Lincoln to Coventry, 184km): 1 A Tieteriouk (Carrera, CIS) 5hr 11min 49sec; 2 M Earley (PDM, Irl); 3 D Mann (GB Leeds 92, GB) both same time; 4 F Baldato (GB-MG, It) +1sec; 5 D Abdoujaparov (Carrera, CIS) +2sec; 6 A van der Poel (Tulip, Netherlands); 7 M Sciandri (Motorola, It) all same time. Selected: 15 P Anderson (Motorola, Aus) +7sec; 20 S Yates (Motorola, GB); 53 R Millar (TVM, GB) all same time.

Overall standings: 1 Sciandri 17hr 28min 27sec; 2 van der Poel +11sec; 3 J van Aert (PDM, Neth) +14sec; 4 H Redant (Lotto, Bel) +16sec; 5 J Museeuw (Lotto, Bel) +18sec; 6 Earley +20sec. Selected: 9 Anderson +28sec; 19 Yates +33sec; 22 Millar s/t.

(Photograph omitted)