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Cycling: Popular Rumsas has the strength.

Byline: Craig Thake

SANTIAGO BOTERO yesterday repeated his feat of two years ago by winning a stage in the Alps and renewed hopes of those who backed him in the without Lance Armstrong market.

The Kelme-Costa Blanca rider, who was as short as

100-30 to finish second overall after landing the time trial in Brittany, had drifted to long odds after losing 15 minutes on his main rivals up Mont-

Ventoux. He is now back in seventh position - just five minutes behind a podium finish having been part of an 11 man breakaway group, which at one stage held a ten-minute advantage over the peleton.

Much the stronger rider on the climb to the the ski-station at Les Deux Alpes, Botero finished six minutes 41 seconds clear of the big names, who were headed by Raimondas Rumsas, Joseba Beloki and Armstrong - the yellow jersey content just to watch the moves of Beloki.

Today's stage between Les Deux Aples and La Plagne is much shorter than yesterday, but does feature three haut-category climbs, which includes the Col du Galibier - the highest point of the tour.

Unlike yesterday's stage it may be much harder for a breakaway to form as too many points are up for grab in the King Of The Mountains. Only two riders - Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque - have realistic chances of claiming the crown and both are sure to be near the front,

especially as they both seemed to take things easily on the

final climb yesterday.

Like yesterday, if a breakaway does form, punters are in the dark as to who may be

involved. However, a rider like Giuseppe Guerini, who has won over L'Alp d'Huez in the past but has shown little this time round, could have been saving himself for such a stage.

If the finish is to be fought out by the big guns there will be no more deserving winner than Rumsas.

The Lithuanian lies third overall having finished fifth (twice), sixth and seventh on the four mountain-top finishes. He looked strong yesterday and he is sure to have plenty of support today as he represents the Italian-based Lampre-Daikin team.


R Rumsas

1pt 10-1 (Bet365, Chandler)

G Guerini

0.5pt each-way 80-1 (Bet365)

Without L Armstrong - Coral: 2-7 J Beloki, 3 R Rumsas, 14 I Gz Galdeano, 20 S Botero, 33 F Mancebo. (Others on request. Win only).
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 24, 2002
Previous Article:Golf: Muntz worth a punt on home soil.
Next Article:Cycling: This year in the mountains.

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