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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Wust times it right
Wust wins
Wust (left) sprints clear of Zabel and Steels
Marcel Wust won the fifth stage of the Tour de France after an exciting finish in the town of Vitre in Brittany.

The German sprinter from the Festina team saw off countryman Erik Zabel in a thrilling sprint finish to the line.

Wust, a frequent stage winner in the Tour of Spain, has never before taken a stage in the French race.

This is only the second time he has competed in the Tour and afterwards he described the win as the finest of his career.

Frenchman Laurent Jalabert retained the yellow jersey, although lost eight seconds to last year's winner Lance Armstrong and 1997 victor Jan Ullrich in the frantic finish.

The 207km stage from Vanne to Vitre saw a five-man group break away from the main pack.

Laurent Jalabert signs on for Wednesday's stage
Jalabert stays in yellow
German Jens Voigt of Credit Agricole and Rabobank's Dutchman Erik Dekker had each tried their luck in separate two-man breaks during earlier stages in this first week.

On Wednesday they were initially joined by three other riders, but were left to fight on as a pair with some 50km to go.

As the race came into the winding streets of Vitre the break still enjoyed a 30-second advantage.

But Zabel's Telekom team and the Mapei outfit of double stage winner Tom Steels drove hard for the finish and caught the opportunist pair within sight of the line.

Sprint drama

With the eventual winner sitting behind the wheel of Steels, Zabel opened up the sprint.

Marcel Wust
Wust celebrates a great day
But Wust displayed superb reactions to swerve behind his compatriot, who could do nothing as the Festina man came past him in the final surge to the line.

Wust's team had not taken part in the Mapei/Telekom chase, but his smart thinking meant that he took full advantage of their hard work.

Steels was left a frustrated figure, banging his handlebars as he finished fourth behind his lead-out man Stefano Zanini.

A second Italian, Salvatore Commesso was fifth, ahead of Australian sprinter Robbie McEwan.

Mountain jersey changes

Wust's win offered the unlikely spectacle of a man in the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey winning a flat stage charge to the line.

The 32-year-old from Colognee had taken the jersey after scaling a small climb quickest during Saturday's opening time trial stage.

With Wednesday's stage featuring the first small hills since then, the German was always expected to lose the jersey.

It is now on the shoulders of the Italian Paolo Bettini of Mapei but Wust did not care about that as he savoured victory in his second Tour, and first since 1992.

"I'm the happiest man in the world," he declared.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Brotherton
"Cycling can be a cruel sport"
See also:

05 Jul 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
01 Jul 00 | Tour de France
03 Jul 00 | Tour de France
04 Jul 00 | Tour de France
Links to more Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.


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