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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Commesso sprints to victory
Commesso and Vinokourov sprinting
Commesso (right) beats Vinokourov to the line
Salvatore Commesso beat Alexandre Vinoukorov in a sprint finish to win the 18th stage of the Tour de France.

The 25-year-old Italian crossed the line in six hours eight minutes and 15 seconds in the longest stage of the event.

In a classic end to the Lausanne to Freiburg stage, Commesso, who won the Italian National Championships last year, showed all his experience to pip the Kazahh after the two riders pulled clear of the rest of the field.

However Telekom rider Vinoukorov, who won in the Dauphine Libere last year, showed he has the potential to become one of the top riders on the Tour.

Peloton

Defending champion Lance Armstrong retained the yellow jersey after coming some 15 minutes adrift of Commesso with the peloton.

Armstrong
Lance Armstrong: Still the overall leader
Kazakhstan's Vinokourov and Commesso had managed to build up a two minute lead on the chasing pack over the final 6km with Jean-Cyril Robin of Bonjour, Credit Agricole's Jens Voigt and Jacky Durand of Lotto all chasing.

Commesso, who won the 13th stage of the Tour last year, only won the stage by a split second after a mad dash for the finish.

In the end the Italian's late surge from second brought him the day's honours as large crowds rushed to the roadside to see the riders home after the race crossed from Switzerland into Germany.

Breathless

After the race, a breathless Commesso said: "Let's hope I can provide more of the same."

The two frontrunners started their final push some 40km out to leave Voigt, Durand and Robin in their slipstream.

Commesso's win followed one of the longest escapes in Tour history.

The record remains with Frenchman Albert Bourlon, who in 1947 held onto the lead for 253km from Carcassonne to Luchon.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Brotherton
"Salvatore Commesso is the real character of the race"
See also:

19 Jul 00 | Tour de France
19 Jul 00 | Photo Galleries
19 Jul 00 | Tour de France
19 Jul 00 | Tour de France
20 Jul 00 | Tour de France
21 Jul 00 | Photo Galleries
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