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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Zabel wins Paris-Tours
Erik Zabel
Erik Zabel (left) also won in 1994
Germany's Erik Zabel edged out Italy's Alessandro Petacchi in a sprint finish to win the Paris-Tours race for the second time.

Paolo Bettini of Italy, winner of three races this season, was crowned World Cup champion with one event remaining.

Zabel held off Petacchi with Australian pair Stuart O'Grady and Baden Cooke taking third and fourth respectively.

"I thought I would need a miracle and I am a little bit surprised I won," said Zabel, who also won in 1994.

"I was just behind him and perhaps I was more sheltered from the wind."

Zabel's victory was a further boost for the Telekom team, 24 hours after former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich announced he would return to the team next season.

A group of eight broke away shortly after the start from Paris and led by up to five minutes until they were caught by the peloton about 15 kilometres from the finish.

Bettini, who retained his crown with one race left in the season, tried twice to break away as the race neared Tours but he was swallowed up and it seemed the scene was set for Petacchi to achieve his 25th stage win of the season.

But as the riders, blown along by a strong wind, raced up the final straight it was Zabel who pushed his wheel across the line first, leaving the Italian to smack his hands in frustration.

The riders now head to Hamilton, Canada, for the world road race championships.

They then return to Europe for the final World Cup race on 18 October, the Tour of Lombardy.

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom: five hours 24 minutes 55 seconds
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
4 Baden Cooke (Aus)
5 Franck Renier (Fra) Brioches
6 Julian Dean (NZ) Team CSC
7 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Saeco
8 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step
9 Fred Rodriguez (US) Vini Caldirola
10 Peter van Petegem (Bel) Lotto Domo
all same time as Zabel

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