Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Bono wins, Savoldelli retains lead

SQUANDERED LEAD Paolo Savoldelli managed to hold on to the yellow jersey after the front three's lead of 19 minutes was hauled back as they approached the finish

AFP , GENEVA

Italy's Matteo Bono, right, and Japan's Fumiyuki Beppu sprint for the finish during the 162.6km third stage of the 61st Tour de Romandie in Charmey, Switzerland, on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Italian rider Matteo Bono won the third stage of the Tour de Romandie on Friday, but his breakaway group narrowly failed to deprive Paolo Savoldelli of the yellow jersey after they squandered a 19 minute lead.

The experienced Savoldelli held on to his overall lead by just a handful of seconds over fellow Italian Marco Pinotti after his rivals tired and hesitated in the final kilometers.

Bono and third-placed Pinotti had led for most of the 162.7km stage between Moudon and Charmey en Gruyere along with Japan's Fumiyuki Beppu, who finished second.

The three riders broke away from the peloton just minutes into the race, building up a huge lead which then melted to less than four minutes by the finish line.

"I wasn't calm. On the final climb I saw Marco was tiring. I knew I was quicker and I waited until the finishing line," said Bono, who had recorded his first big professional win earlier this year with a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

"I knew the Japanese rider was good because I raced against him as an amateur," he added. Beppu is a two-time Japanese road racing champion.

Pinotti, meanwhile, was more than four minutes behind Savoldelli in the overall standings in 98th place at the start of the day.

Frenchman Christophe Moreau led the main pack to pick up fourth place on the stage.

Once again Savoldelli's newly-formed Astana team, who are trying to find their mark ahead of the Giro and the Tour de France, successfully defended their team leader by powering the peloton forward over the final half of the stage into the Alpine foothills.

Savoldelli has held the overall lead in the Tour de Romandie since he won the prologue on Tuesday.

The riders faced their biggest test yesterday with a 155.9km stage through the Swiss mountains, which includes four major climbs.

The Tour de Romandie ends today with a 20.4km time trial in and around the Swiss city of Lausanne.

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