Colom wins Dauphine stage

2007-06-15 17:56
Digne-les-Bains - Spain's Antonio Colom has claimed victory of the fifth stage of the Dauphine Libere after being prompted over the line by Astana team-mate Alexandre Vinokourov.

Vinokourov, one of the favourites for next month's Tour de France, finished second to hand the Kazakh team another glory day after Andrey Kashechkin grabbed the yellow jersey on Thursday.

Kashechkin finished a few minutes after the leading duo to retain his 14 second overall lead on Frenchman Christophe Moreau, with Russian Denis Menchov in third place, followed by Australia's Cadel Evans.

Colom and Vinokourov had initially been among a 22-man group that pulled ahead of the main peloton in the opening kilometres of the 195km race from Nyons to Digne.

Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen was among the group and with a long home straight at the end of what was an undulating stage the former world champion appeared to be fancying his chances of staying on to contest a bunch sprint.

Astana, however, had other ideas.

Colom attacked the leaders on the day's only serious climb, the category two Col du Corobin situated 25km from the finish line. Vinokourov then closed the gap to his team-mate just before the summit, and both riders left the rest in their wake on the descent towards Digne.

With two stages and still plenty of climbing till Sunday's finish, the French winner in 2001 still harbours hopes of claiming a second Dauphine crown.

Saturday's sixth stage, held over 198km between Gap and Valloire, could give Moreau, Menchov and Evans the incentive to go on the attack and end Astana's overall victory hopes.

It features a total of seven climbs, including the punishing, unclassified (hors categorie) ascent over the Col de la Croix de Fer. The stage will end a few kilometres after the summit of the Col du Telegraphe.

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