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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Tosatto claims maiden stage win
Matteo Tosatto punches the air after crossing the line
Tosatto won the 2004 Tour of Tuscany
Matteo Tosatto claimed stage 18 of the Tour de France, pipping Cristian Moreni and Ronny Scholz in a frantic finish.

The trio were part of a 15-man break that went away after 53km but they left the rest behind with just 17km to go.

Scholz was unable to match the pace of the two Italians in the final metres and Tosatto edged out Moreni for his first Tour stage victory.

Oscar Pereiro retains the yellow jersey from Carlos Sastre and Floyd Landis after the trio finished in the peloton.

The peloton finished eight minutes behind the leaders.

Landis, who produced a stunning display in winning stage 17, took it easy with the rest of the peloton as the Tour negotiated the relatively flat 197km stage from Morzine to Macon after three gruelling days in the Alps.

And he says he is fully prepared for Saturday's time trial, the penultimate stage of the Tour which will effectively decide the eventual winner.

"I feel well and I am confident in my time trailing," he said. "Today went fine, it was a bit of a recovery day."

You are not really a pro until you win a stage on the Tour

Matteo Tosatto

But Spaniard Pereiro, from the Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears team, says he is determined to hold onto his lead which stands at 12 seconds over Sastre and 30 seconds over Landis.

"I know Floyd is better than me in the time trial, but I'm going to go all out," he said. "I want to think about how good it's been for me over the last few days.

"It will be the most important time trial of my life but I have learnt on this tour to never give up."

The opening part of stage 18 saw little movement from the pack and an early break from David Millar, Yaroslav Popovych and Benoit Vaugrenard did not last long.

A more decisive break of 15 riders made their mark 152 km from the finish with France's Sylvain Calzati the most active of the fugitives.

Levi Leipheimer and Inaki Isasi then left the leading group but with 20km the 15 riders were back together again.

The decisive escape came with just 17km to go and Tosatto, who punched the air in celebration as he crossed the line, was able to hold off Moreni's challenge.

"It was a three-up sprint for a start. I felt good but they were fast as well," said Tosatto.

"I gave my best, but we were all very tired. It's my first year at Quickstep and it's pretty important to win here. You are not really a pro until you win a stage on the Tour."

Result of stage 18:
1. Matteo Tosatto (Italy / Quick-Step) 4 hours 16 minutes 15 seconds
2. Cristian Moreni (Italy / Cofidis) ST
3. Ronny Scholz (Germany / Gerolsteiner) +2"
4. Manuel Quinziato (Italy / Liquigas ) +47"
5. Sebastien Hinault (France / Credit Agricole) +1:03"
6. Jerome Pineau (France / Bouygues Telecom)
7. Sylvain Calzati (France / AG2R)
8. Benoit Vaugrenard (France / Francaise des Jeux)
9. Inaki Isasi (Spain / Euskaltel)
10. Egoi Martinez (Spain / Discovery Channel)
11. Mario Aerts (Belgium / Davitamon - Lotto)
12. Patrik Sinkewitz (Germany / T-Mobile)
13. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain / Rabobank)
14. Levi Leipheimer (U.S. / Gerolsteiner) +1:06"
15. David Zabriskie (U.S. / Team CSC) +2:25"
Selected others:
120. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Cofidis) +8:00
134. David Millar (GB/Saulnier) +9:15"

General classification:
1. Oscar Pereiro (Spain / Caisse d'Epargne) 84:33:04"
2. Carlos Sastre (Spain / Team CSC) +12"
3. Floyd Landis (U.S. / Phonak +30"
4. Andreas Kloeden (Germany / T-Mobile) +2:32"
5. Cadel Evans (Australia / Davitamon - Lotto) +3:11"
6. Denis Menchov (Russia / Rabobank) +4:17"
7. Cyril Dessel (France / AG2R) +4:27"
8. Christophe Moreau (France / AG2R) +5:48"
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain / Euskaltel) +8:19"
10. Michael Rogers (Australia / T-Mobile) +12:16"
Selected others:
61. David Millar (GB/Saulnier) +2 hrs 01:31"
128. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Cofidis) +3hrs 19:19"

Tour de France stage 18 photos
21 Jul 06 |  Cycling
Stage 18 as it happened
21 Jul 06 |  Cycling

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