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  Cipollini Wins Stage; American Is Second Overall

By Salvatore Zanca
Associated Press
Thursday, July 16, 1998; 3:16 p.m. EDT



 Overall leader Stuart O'Grady receives aid after falling shortly before the day's first intermediate sprint and finished the stage with bruises on his right knee.
(Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)
CHATEAUROUX, France — Mario Cipollini of Italy won the fifth stage of the Tour de France Thursday, while American champion George Hincapie moved into second place overall.

Cipollini beat another top sprinter, Erik Zabel of Germany.

It was the seventh career stage victory for Cipollini. Zabel also has seven Tour stage wins.

Most of the pack finished in the same time, enabling Stuart O'Grady of Australia to retain the yellow jersey after the 142-mile leg from Cholet to Chateauroux in central France.

Hincapie moved within seven seconds, getting four bonus seconds at an individual sprint.

"There is definitely some pressure to get the yellow,'' Hincapie said. "My team wants it as much as I do.''

Hincapie is a member of the U.S. Postal team, in only its second year on the Tour. A rider in yellow would be a prestigious accomplishment for the team directed by 1984 Olympic cycling champion Mark Gorski.

But Hincapie still is tired of getting in position to go for sprints.

"It's starting to wear on me,'' he said. "It's been a long two days. I might not go for the sprints and go for points at the stage finish.''

Meanwhile, an official of the Festina team, Bruno Roussel, was suspended before the fifth stage began. The sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union, said Roussel had failed to respond adequately to a drug investigation by the French Cycling Federation.

UCI suspended Roussel's cycling license, meaning he cannot work on the Tour.

Roussel and team doctor Erik Ryckaert were still in detention Thursday in Cholet. A judicial source said their detention was renewed after 24 hours.

Last week, a Belgian masseur for Festina was arrested after police found a large quantity of performance-enhancing drugs in his team car.

According to judicial sources, after first claiming the drugs were for his personal use, the man charged said he was under team orders.

Police from Lille came to conduct the investigation last week and arrested Willy Voet, when he was found with performance-enhancing drugs in a team car.

Jean-Marie LeBlanc, the Tour director, said there was no reason to suspend the team from competing.

Another member of the team, Christian Moreau, has been competing while petitioning a positive test for steroids at a race in June. He is currently 21st.

Friday's stage is the last flat stage before Saturday's time trial. Next week, the Tour goes into the mountains.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


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