Cycling: Tour de France: Third stage: Abdoujaparov charged up for sprint victory

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The Independent Online
DJAMOLIDINE Abdoujaparov is as much a handful as he is a mouthful. The Uzbek sent a quiver through his fellow sprinters here yesterday as the Tour de France ended a third day with a mass charge for the finish, ending with Abdoujaparov victorious.

He veered across the Tour leader, Wilfried Nelissen, and the Italian Mario Cipollini as each fought the other for a second win. After two spills and a second place in the first two days, Abdoujaparov had his success, his first Tour de France win since his debut in 1991.

That year he was impressive, scoring two stage wins, taking victory in the green jersey category for consistent high placings, and finally making a spectacular exit by crashing on the Champs Elysees.

Nelissen, the Belgian, increased his overall lead to 25 seconds yesterday, but his new rival for the yellow jersey is Cipollini. Both gained time deductions, known as 'bonuses', for their second and third placings behind Abdoujaparov.

The three sprinters have eased Miguel Indurain into fourth place. The Basque is now 29 seconds away from the leader's jersey he wore on the first day, but today brings an 81km time- trial, which could shake out the likes of Cipollini and Abdoujaparov. Yesterday's 189km ride on the Brittany roller-coaster of the Armor hills made the Frenchman Laurent Desbiens the new tenant of the red polka dot jersey of the best climber. He and Marc Sergeant, of Belgium, figured in a breakaway that at one point made Sergeant a reluctant race-leader 'on the road'.

Their lead came close to 14 minutes and at the start of the stage Sergeant was just one minute behind Nelissen. Desbiens spent 128km collecting cheers from admiring compatriots but 19km from the finish the pack arrived and the skirmishing began.

After the piracy of the massed sprints in which Nelissen had scored a win and two seconds, Cipollini a first and two thirds, and Abdoujaparov a first, a second, and a few scars, the Tour turns to the 'race of truth' again.

The purists see man against the clock as the real test of an athlete, and today's ride between Dinard and Avranches is a discipline that demands high-speed rhythm rather than raw aggression.

The riders of ONCE, the Spanish team with a cosmopolitan line-up, are tipped to lift Alex Zulle into a challenging, if not leading, position. The Swiss is currently 41 seconds away from Nelissen's jersey.

Indurain, however, is biding his time. He won the first 'race of truth', the opening individual time-trial, last Saturday, at an incredible 49kph, and is sure to produce another searing show in Monday's time trial at Lake Madine in eastern France, just to remind them who is the real master of the yellow jersey.

TOUR DE FRANCE Third stage (189.5km, Vannes to Dinard): 1 D Abdoujaparov (Uzbek, Lampre) 4hr 41min 53sec; 2 W Nelissen (Bel, Novemail); 3 M Cipollini (It, GB MG); 4 J Capiot (Bel, TVM); 5 L Jalabert (Fr, ONCE); 6 O Ludwig (Ger, Telekom); 7 S Colage (It, ZG Mobili); 8 J Museeuw (Bel, GB MG); 9 C Capelle (Fr, GAN); 10 A Ferrigato (It, Ariostea); 11 R Jaermann (Swit, Ariostea); 12 M Ghirotto (It, ZG Mobili); 13 J Durand (Fr, Castorama); 14 B Riis (Den, Ariostea); 15 F Simon (Fr, Castorama). Selected: 19 S Yates (GB, Motorola); 20 M Indurain (Sp, Banesto); 45 S Roche (Irl, Carrera); 109 R Millar (GB, TVM) all same time.

Overall: 1 Nelissen 15hr 23min 16sec; 2 Cipollini +25sec; 3 Abdoujaparov +28; 4 Indurain +29; 5 G Bugno (It, Gatorade) +38; 6 T Marie (Fr, Festina) +40; 7 A Zulle (Swit, ONCE) +41; 8 Jalabert +42; 9 R Alcala (Mex, Wordperfect) +45; 10 T Rominger (Swit, Clas) +47; 11 R Sorensen (Den, Carrera) +51; 12 C Chiappucci (It, Carrera) +53; 13 Z Jaskula (Pol, GB MG) +54; 14 Roche +57; 15 B Cenghialta (It, Ariostea) +58. Selected: 116 Millar +1min 34sec; 118 Yates +1:36.

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