July 10/99 11:26 am - Cipollini Takes 4th Straight in Stage 7
Posted by Editor on 07/10/99
Another long flat stage, and another extended breakaway attempt. This time it was Stephane Heulot (FDJ) and Lylian Lebreton (Big-Mat) who went clear at the first sprint of the day (29 km). Their lead grew to nearly 7 minutes, however, Heulot's presence caused the Casino team of race leader Jan Kirsipuu to chase strongly, since Heulot was only 1:21 down on GC. After Heulot dropped off the break, Lebreton courageously decided to continue on his own (at over 17 minutes down, he was no threat). Jacky Durand (Lotto) decided to try his luck 90 kilometres into the stage (227 km) and took off after Lebreton on his own.
A number of crashes in the feedzone assisted the two leaders, and Durand caught Lebreton with 57 kilometres to go. At that point the lead pair had an 8:30 lead. Unfortunately for them, the sprinters' teams were starting to drive the peleton, and the gap began to shrink steadily until, with 4 kilometres to go, the pack swallowed up Durand and Lebreton - setting the stage for yet another sprint finish.
Mario Cipollini (Saeco-Cannondale) took an unprecedented fourth consecutive stage, during a sprint that saw Erik Zabel almost crash in the finally 80 metres when one of his feet slipped off a pedal. He was very lucky not to bring down the bunch. This also capped a very bad day for zabel that did see him go down with 35 kilometres to go and have receive medical attention from his team vehicle before being towed back up the pack by his team.
2. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole)
3. Jan Kirsipuu (Casino)
4. Henk Vogels
5. Jan Svorada
Kirsipuu retains his yellow jersey going into tomorrow's time trial.
Note: depending upon your location, ABC Sports is showing same day television coverage today at 1:00 pm EDT.