McEwen gets third stage win

July 9, 2002 at 4:09 PM
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REIMS, France, July 9 (UPI) -- Robbie McEwen of Australia outsprinted Erik Zabel of Germany on Tuesday to win the third stage of the Tour de France.

However, Zabel took over the yellow jersey as the overall leader in the world's most famous cycling race.

McEwen, who also beat Italian speedster Mario Cippolini during the Giro d'Italia, moved up into second place overall, trailing Zabel by eight seconds.

"It's a great feeling to win today," McEwen said at the postrace press conference. "I really wanted be able to celebrate with the win by showing off my Australian champion's jersey. I knew (Erik) Zabel was right with me and, with him so close, I wasn't going to chance it with an early salute."

Meanwhile, three-time defending champion Lance Armstrong of the United States remains well-placed in fifth, just 17 seconds off Zabel's pace.

Switzerland's Rubens Bertogliati, who entered Tuesday as the overall leader, slipped to third and France's Laurent Jalabert fell one place to fourth.

Riding for the Lotto-Adecco team, the 30-year-old McEwen captured his second career stage victory, winning the 114.95-mile leg from Metz to Reims. He also took the 20th and final stage of the 1999 Tour, crossing the famed finish line on Paris' Champs-Elysees.

The early stages of the 2002 Tour as expected are being dominated by the top sprinters. McEwen and Zabel, who is gunning for an unprecedented seventh green jersey as the Tour's best sprinter, were edged by Oscar Freire of Spain in Saarbrucken, Germany on Monday.

Armstrong remains the strong favorite to win the event again. He simply is looking to stay within striking distance of the leaders until the mountain stages begin with the 10th leg on July 17.

The Texan effectively won the 2001 title with his climbing prowess. This year, Armstrong is attempting to join Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgian Eddie Merckx and Spaniard Miguel Indurain as the only cyclists to have won the race more than three times.

Bertogliati still kept hold of the white jersey as the top under-25 rider in the standings, owning an eight-second cushion over Britain's David Millar, who is eighth overall.

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