Cycling: Pooley holds firm to become the first British winner of Tour de l'Aude

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The Independent Online

Emma Pooley completed victory in the 10-day Tour de l'Aude in France, becoming the first Briton to win the prestigious race. Pooley won Friday's seventh stage to extend her lead in the overall ranking and was untroubled in yesterday's ninth stage as she completed victory.

The stage was won by Ina Yoko Teutenberg (Team HTC-Columbia) in a sprint finish, but the race belonged to the Briton. Pooley, who took road time-trial silver at the 2008 Olympic Games, said: "Today the race was a little bit stressful, but the team, as it has been for this entire Tour, was just fantastic. They were always with me and showed time and again that we were the strongest team.

"I feel amazing today and very happy with my Tour victory – it is the first time I have won a big stage race, after the Grande Boucle last year. Together, our team will now enjoy the victory and celebrate by having some ice cream."

Her Cervelo team won four stages of the race, including a victory for Pooley's fellow Briton Lizzie Armitstead, who won last Saturday's first stage.

At the Giro d'Italia, Ivan Basso surged up Monte Zoncolan for victory yesterday. The 2006 champion was triumphant on the 15th stage from Mestre to trim his deficit to current leader David Arroyo to three minutes 33 seconds with one week of the race remaining. Basso now lies third overall after leading world champion Cadel Evans and Michele Scarponi across the line. Arroyo finished 3min 50sec down in 11th and is now 2:35 clear of Richie Porte in second.

The day’s racing was decided on the climb of Monte Zoncolan, which is widely regarded as the toughest in Europe. Evans and Basso forced the pace and Arroyo was dropped. The Italian left riders strewn down the road as he kept up a relentless pace and finished 1:19 ahead of Evans. Britain’s Bradley Wiggins had a terrible day, trailing in 25 minutes after Basso and is now 23rd in the overall standings.

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