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  Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Zabel upbeat after sprint defeat
Erik Zabel (left) during Tuesday's stage with Rubens Bertogliati
Zabel (left) has swapped green for yellow
Erik Zabel refused to be downhearted after being outsprinted for the third successive stage of the Tour de France.

The German rider finished second behind Robbie McEwen, adding to his second place behind Rubens Bertogliati on the first stage and third on stage two.

But that result was enough for Zabel to take over the yellow jersey from Bertogliati.

Afterwards the Telekom sprinter told German television: "When I got to the final sprint maybe just a little bit was missing.

"But I really can't be unhappy coming second in the stage and winning both the green and yellow jerseys."


You never say no to a yellow jersey - there are not many who get to wear a yellow jersey
Erik Zabel

Two days after his birthday, the 32-year-old blamed the intermediate sprints for his failure to surpass McEwen.

Zabel failed to beat the Lampre-Daikin team-mates of Bertogliati on stage three's opening sprint.

But he managed third in the next two sprints, shaving four seconds off his overall time and moving him into the yellow jersey.

He explained: "I first of all tried for the intermediate sprints but I was beaten by the Lampre-Daikin riders. That made me even more determined for the next two sprints.

"It's a wonderful day for me and my team. You never say no to a yellow jersey - there are not many who get to wear a yellow jersey.

"It has taken some time to come so obviously I'm very happy."

McEwen delight

The stage victory marked McEwen's second success in the Tour.

Back in 1999 he won the coveted final stage on the Champs-Elysees, but missed last year's race following a fall-out with his former employers.

The Lotto-Adecco sprinter, however, was beaming as he stood on the winner's podium on Tuesday.

"This is the best win of the season so far, without doubt," said the Australian national champion, who moved into second place overall as a result of his sprint win.

"I beat Cipo (Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini) in the Giro, but winning in the Tour de France is definitely better.

"I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm the best sprinter in the world because it changes every day. But today I'm the best in the world."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"Zabel is the new race leader"
Germany's Erik Zabel
"The headwind is really hard"
All the actiion from the world's greatest bike race

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