Dufaux closes the gap as Jalabert fades

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Laurent Dufaux made a late challenge to the Tour of Spain leader, Alex Zulle, with a superb win in yesterday's 19th stage from Getafe to Avila. The Swiss gained 55 seconds on his compatriot and replaced the Frenchmen Laurent Jalabert in second place overall, four minutes and 22 seconds behind Zulle with three days left.

Zulle seemed unaffected by a stomach upset that has hit his ONCE team, but his colleague, Jalabert, was clearly unable to cope with the searing pace and lost more than 20 minutes.

Dufaux would have gained more ground but for the help given to Zulle by riders in the chasing pack, which angered Dufaux's Lotus team manager, Miguel Moreno.

Dufaux, who showed his strength yesterday by sprinting up the final hill into Avila, promised to attack again in today's stage. It could be his last chance because tomorrow's time trial is a Zulle speciality and Sunday's largely-flat closing section traditionally ends in a sprint finish in Madrid.