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  Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Verbrugghe races clear
Belgium's Rik Verbrugghe of the Lotto team won stage seven of the Giro d'Italia
Verbrugghe clinched his second career Giro stage win
  Stage 7 results and overall standings
  Is cycling damaged beyond repair?
  Garzelli tests positive

Belgian rider Rik Verbrugghe of the Lotto team won the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia from Viareggio to Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany on Sunday.

  Photo Gallery: See this story in pictures

Verbrugghe broke away on the stage's final climb 18km from the finish and raced home alone.

He finished 58 seconds ahead of German Raphael Schweda of the Coast team and Cristian Moreni of Alessio.

All three were part of a 10-rider group that broke away 60km from the finish.

"I took some risks in the downhill of Pedona because I did not know the extent of my advantage," said Verbrugghe.

I believe I'm innocent and the Mapei team believe me but I'm already paying for something I didn't do
Stefano Garzelli

"I could hardly breathe in the last few days because of bronchitis. Today I felt better and I went for victory."

Britain's Maximilian Sciandri was fourth, 1:02 behind, but the main peleton trailed Verbrugghe by a full 1:46.

Jens Heppner, of Team Telekom, retained the pink jersey of overall leader after finishing in the pack.

Heppner is 3:33 ahead of one-time leader Stefano Garzelli in the overall standings.

Garzelli chose to continue racing until the results of his second urine test are completed in Rome on Tuesday.

Spiked milk

The 28-year-old Mapei rider tested positive for a banned diuretic after the second stage in Belgium, but has denied any wrongdoing.

"I had a difficult night but I decided to go on. I'm aware that Tuesday I could be sent home, but I'm living it day by day," said Garzelli.

But he insisted that the decision was likely to go against him and he admitted he was considering retirement.

"That's how I feel at the moment," he said.

"If the second analysis is positive I'll be disqualified anyway and so will take a long time out to decide whether to carry on or not."

He added: "I believe I'm innocent and the Mapei team believe me but I'm already paying for something I didn't do."

The Mapei team suspect the diuretic may have been placed in milk all the team drank on the morning of Monday's stage.

Stage eight of the Giro on Monday is the longest of the race at 237km, heading south towards Rome from Capannori to Orvieto in southern Tuscany.

7th stage (Versilia, 159km):
1 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 4hrs 03mins 59secs
2 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast
3 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio both at 0:59
4 Maximilian Sciandri (Gbr) Lampre-Daikin
5 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
6 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
7 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Team Colpack-Astro all at 1:02
8 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step at 1:08
9 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
10 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Coast both at 1:46

General classifications:
1 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Telekom 35:25:30
2 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step at 3:33
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago at 3:43
4 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio at 3:45
Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi at 3:57
Kelme-Costa Blanca at 4:09
7 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo at 4:16
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Index Alexia at 4:27
9 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport at 4:33
10 Santiago Perez Fernandez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca at 4:36

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See also:

18 May 02 |  Cycling
Garzelli loses pink jersey
18 May 02 |  Cycling
Giro rider tests positive
17 May 02 |  Cycling
Garzelli extends Giro lead
15 May 02 |  Cycling
McEwen upsets Cipollini
17 May 02 |  Cycling
Chesini arrested in drugs probe
14 May 02 |  Cycling
Cipollini snatches stage victory
13 May 02 |  Cycling
Garzelli moves ahead
12 May 02 |  Cycling
Super Mario in pink
11 May 02 |  Cycling
Dutch delight for Dominguez
18 May 02 |  Photo Galleries
Controversy mars Giro d'Italia
19 May 02 |  Photo Galleries
Seventh heaven for Verbrugghe
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