Fists fly before Wust rides the storm to victory

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The Independent Online

Two riders came to blows during the fourth stage of the Tour of Spain yesterday, which was won by Marcel Wust of Germany with the Frenchman, Laurent Jalabert, remaining race leader.

Storm-force winds and rain compelled judges to call a halt after only eight of the 164km and restart the race 71km further on in Villalba, shortening the stage to 85km.

The weather improved but tempers, at least among two riders, did not and a fight broke out between the Venezuelan Leonardo Sierra and Spain's Ramon Gonzalez Arrieta.

Television showed each rider grabbing the other's handlebar in the middle of the peloton and falling to the ground, then lashing out with their fists.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fight. Judges were studying a video recording of the incident before taking a final decision to confirm their expulsion from the tour.

Wust, who rides for the Spanish Castellblanch team, claimed a surprise victory in the final sprint, breaking away from a packed peloton with just a few metres left to win clearly from the Italian Stefano Zanini and Jalabert in 2hr 15min 52sec.

Jalabert added four seconds to his overall lead, and now has a 12-second advantage over Abraham Olano, of Spain, and 21 seconds over Switzerland's Alex Zulle.

Thursday's 181-km fifth stage takes the riders from La Coruna to Orense, with one 460-metre high third-category climb.