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Cycling: ROBBIE: I HAD A LOTTO HELP; Aussie praises team-mates.

Byline: By Frank Haynes

AUSSIE Robbie McEwen hailed his Davitamon-Lotto team-mates after snatching his second Tour de France stage win in three days yesterday.

McEwen pipped Wales-based Swede Magnus Backstedt and Bernhard Eisel of Austria in a sprint finish to the 228kilometre seventh stage from Luneville to the German city of Karlsruhe.

Race leader Lance Armstrong, meanwhile, remains comfortably in front of nearest challengers George Hincapie and Alexander Vinokourov ahead of his favoured mountain stages.

German Fabian Wegmann, who led most of the way yesterday, was on course to snatch the yellow jersey from the American for a spell but ran out of steam.

McEwen claimed his win was not just down to being fastest

He said: 'Maybe I had a bit of luck and there was also the fantastic work of my team-mates.

'My two guys, Leon Van Bon and Freddy Rodriguez, looked after me and I managed to get through the gap.

For much of the race it looked as though the German crowd might be able to celebrate a local winner. Wegmann at one point had a seven minutes, 30 seconds lead after making an early breakaway.

McEwen gave up on an initial attempt to stay with him but the chasing pack worked hard to reel Wegmann in and caught him with 23km to go.

However, Wegmanndid enough to ensure he will wear the red polka-dot jersey for the best climber when the eighth stage gets under way today.

American David Zabriskie's eventful Tour continued when he was one of four riders involved in a pile-up.

But they all remounted without any apparent problems.

Today's stage is a 231.5km ride from Pforzheim to Gerardmer
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 9, 2005
Words:278
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