Golf: Olano makes good time

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The Independent Online
ABRAHAM OLANO rode a brilliant time-trial to win the Tour of Spain's sixth stage yesterday and strengthen his overall race lead.

The defending champion, who rides for the Spanish ONCE team, recorded an unofficial time of 53min 32sec in the 46.4km time-trial which started and finished in Salamanca. The Spaniard finished 57 seconds clear of the second-placed Jan Ullrich, who won Thursday's fifth stage, to extend his overall lead to 1min 7sec over Germany's 1997 Tour de France winner.

Ullrich raced strongly over the first half of the winding circuit but Olano put his big effort into the third quarter of the time-trial and had a 43sec advantage over Ullrich at the 33km checkpoint.

Italy's leading cyclist, Marco Pantani, may be forced to miss the World Championships next month because of a recurrent pain in his right knee, his Mercatone Uno team said yesterday. Pantani, who has not competed since his expulsion from the Tour of Italy last June, underwent medical examinations on Thursday and was told the problem appeared to be worse than just a tendon inflammation.

The Italian cyclist, winner of the Giro and of the Tour de France in 1998, was banned from this year's Giro two stages from his second consecutive triumph after random tests showed unusually high levels of red blood cells.

"I want to come back. I could start against the doctors advice," Pantani said yesterday. "But I'll need a few days before making a final decision because of the risks involved."

The World Championships are set to take place between 6-10 October in northern Italy. Pantani was forced to skip the Spanish Vuelta earlier this month due to the same knee injury.

Results, Digest, page 26