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  Saturday, 8 July, 2000, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Dekker claims first victory
Erik Dekker
Erik Dekker celebrates his first Tour stage victory
Dutch rider Erik Dekker took the 203.5km eighth stage of the Tour de France - his first Tour victory in seven years of trying.

Dekker set the pace from the start of the day and eventually broke away to finish 52 seconds ahead of Xavier Jan, with Vicente Garcia-Acosta in third.

Dekker made the telling break some 30km from the finish to claim the climber's red polka dot jersey.

Italian Alberto Elli retained the overall leader's yellow jersey. His lead remains at 12 seconds over Fabrice Gougot of France.

Dekker's victory in the Limoges-Villeneuve-sur-Lot stage gave his Rabobank team their second stage win in three days following his compatriot Leon van Bon's win at Tours.

Armstrong

Defending champion Lance Armstrong finished in the chasing pack and fell four places in the overall standings to 16th as he bids to become the first rider since Miguel Indurain in 1995 to retain the title.

Armstrong is now 5:54 behind Elli, but still appears well set before the mountain stages, which begin on Monday.

Dekker, who began the day in 164th place, rode aggressively from the start, leading after each of the of the first three climbs.

A group of 14 riders comprised the principal break-away peleton, making their move from the main group at 50km from the finishing line.

Following the decisive break by Dekker the rest of the group disintegrated, with the most persistent French rider Didier Rous failing in his repeated attempts at a counter attack.

"I told my team-mates that I would attack from the start," said Dekker, who was also the leader of breakaway groups during the first stage at Loudun and the fifth at Vitre.

After suffering a fractured elbow during the Paris-Nice cycling event, Dekker warmed-up for the Tour at the Giro d'Italia.

"That's what allowed me to approach the Tour in such good form," he said.

Dekker, who turned professional in 1992 after winning a silver medal at the Olympics in Barcelona, last hit the headlines before the world championships in Verona when his red blood cell level was above the permitted 50 percent threshold.

Sunday's ninth stage is a flat 181km course from Agen to Dax.

Results

8th stage (203.5km, Limoges-Villeneuve-sur-Lot):

1 E Dekker (Ned), Rabobank, 4hrs 22mins 14secs, 2 X Jan (Fra) at 52secs, 3 V Garcia-Acosta (Spa) 56, 4 F Rodriguez (USA) same time, 5 D Pieri (Ita) st, 6 B Voskamp (Ned) st, 7 D Rous (Fra) st , 8 M Radaelli (Ita) 1:36, 9 N Bo Larsen (Den) st, 10 M Sandstod (Den) 1:43

Overall

1 A Elli (Ita) Telekom 28hrs 39mins 28secs, 2 F Gougot (Fra) at 12sec, 3 M Wauters (Bel) 1:17, 4 P Chanteur (Fra) 2:56, 5 JL Arrieta (Spa) 3:08, 6 J Voigt (Ger) 03:17

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Erik Dekker
"It's my first big, big victory. I'm so happy"
See also:

07 Jul 00 | Tour de France
06 Jul 00 | Tour de France
05 Jul 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
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