The last leg ended with a traditional sprint finish in which the Belgian Tom Steels crossed the line first. Rominger's attempt to secure a fourth Vuelta had foundered after he dropped nearly eight minutes on the third stage. However, he fought back to win two time trials, and both he and Dufaux moved up a place when Laurent Jalabert dropped from second to 20th because of a stomach upset.
It was a disastrous race for the Spaniards, who failed to win a stage for the first time in the race's history. Their highest finisher was Fernando Escartin, in 10th. Miguel Indurain was forced to retire after the half- way mark.
n Britain's Chris Boardman, who starts favourite for the world time-trial championship on 13 October, maintained his winning form when he and the British Under-23 road-race champion, Paul Manning, won the Duo Normand two-man event in France in 1hr 2min 15sec yesterday, a record for the 52.3km course.
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