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Tour Méditerranéen Stage Three
By Podofdonny
Date: 2/14/2003
Tour Méditerranéen Stage Three

Cooke ahead of the Bakers!

Stage 3: Seillans-La Motte 60km

Short stage which features three short climbs; Fayencez, Montauroux, Bagnols en Foret (Cat 3), and Carrefour just before the finish - the morning stage may cause surprises...

Stage Two Wrap up

Thierry Bricaud (assistant manager of Brioches La Boulangère) must be very happy with how his team is performing in this race. Yesterday not only was youngster Jérôme Pineau again in the thick of the action throughout the stage (including a dare devil ascent of the Col de Vence in the company of Sandy Casar) but the "baker boys" (La Boulangère = the baker) managed to get five riders into the 43 man breakaway. A grateful Emmanuel Magnien (nicknamed “Manu”) said after the stage:

"There were five of us in the first group, and my young team mates worked hard for me so I could save my energies for the sprint. I was not entirely confident about the sprint, but now I am very happy for this first success which repays the team for its hard work in the winter."

Paolo Bettini will be also thankful to his team's hard work. Rogers, Kashechkin and Noyens all pulled back attacks to protect their leader in yesterday's stage. Meanwhile “the Cheetah” Quaranta abandoned yesterday due to a crash - more details later.

Eight now Seven

Christophe Oriol (AG2R), one of the eight man breakaway in the opening stage, missed the cut yesterday so the favourites for the overall are reduced to 7 men - Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Laurent Brochard (Ag2r Prévoyance), Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangère), Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère) and Mirko Celestino (Saeco).

Stage Three Report

“The morning stage may cause surprises indeed!”

Baden Cooke, first man to cross the line, had been classed as a rider who had abandoned the race the previous day, because he had not been noticed crosing the line by the race or UCI officials .

The confusion as to who had won the stage and whether Cooke had indeed finished the previous days stage was sorted out following careful study of the previous day's film footage which proved the young Australian was in the second group to finish.

The sprinter had two hours to wait before his victory was confirmed. His third victory of the season was won just in front of Bettini Italians, (second in the first stage too - but closing in on De Groot for race leadership), Gasparre (De Nardi) and Bennati (Domina Vacanze).

Cooke meanwhile explained what had caused him difficulties -

"I have been troubled since the beginning of the month by a pain in the knee caused by a bad cleat adjustment in my shoes", explained Cooke. "Wednesday evening, Marc Madiot, my DS and the mechanic of the team saw that I had also badly adjusted my saddle; it was too high by one centimetre. Thursday, I felt really badly, I thought I might abandon but I clung on. This victory is a great feeling."

Results Stage Three

1. Baden Cooke (AUS, 60 km in 1h18'46" (45,7 km/h)

2. Paolo Bettini (ITA, Quick Step-Davitamon) s.t.

3. Graziano Gasparre (ITA, De Nardi-Colpack) s.t.

4. Daniele Bennati (ITA, Domina Vacanze-Elitron) s.t.

5. Guido Trenti (USA, Fassa Bortolo) s.t.

6. Thor Hushovd (NOR, Crédit Agricole) s.t.

7. Max Van Heeswijk (PBS, US Postal-Berry Floor) s.t.

8. Bram De Groot (PBS, Rabobank) s.t.

9. Emmanuel Magnien (FRA, Brioches La Boulangère) s.t.

10. Laurent Brochard (FRA, Ag2r Prévoyance) s.t.

Classement Général :

1. Bram De Groot (PBS, Rabobank) at 6.35.18

2. Paolo Bettini (ITA, Quick Step-Davitamon) 1 sec.

3. Thor Hushovd (NOR, Crédit Agricole) 5 sec.

4. Laurent Brochard (FRA, Ag2r Prévoyance) 11 sec.

5. Thomas Voeckler (FRA, Brioches La Boulangère) s.t.

6. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA, Brioches La Boulangère) s.t.

7. Mirko Celestino (ITA, Team Saeco) s.t.

8. Emmanuel Magnien (FRA, Brioches La Boulangère) 1'25"

9. Filippo Pozzato (ITA, Fassa Bortolo) 1'29"

10. Fabio Sacchi (ITA, Team Saeco) 1'31"

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