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Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Popovych battles to solo victory
Yaroslav Popovych celebrates his victory
Popovych celebrates his first stage win in two Tours
Yaroslav Popovych powered away from a breakaway group to sprint to a solo victory on stage 12 of the Tour de France between Luchon and Carcassonne.

The Ukrainian battled his way to a welcome victory over 211.5km for the Discovery Channel Team in four hours 34 minutes and 58 seconds.

Italian Alessandro Ballan followed Popovich over the line 27 seconds later with Spain's Oscar Freire third.

American Floyd Landis retained the race leader's yellow jersey.

Christophe Le Mevel fell away from the group in the closing stages to deny French fans a home win on Bastille Day.

With Le Mevel out of contention, Popovych injected some pace two kilometres from the line to shake off Ballan and Freire.

I'm so far off in the general classification that we've now switched to going for stage wins

Yaroslav Popovych

The 26-year-old suffered badly during the previous stage through the Pyrenees and his first stage win on the Tour will give heart to the Discovery team, who are struggling without seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.

The team also lost Paolo Savoldelli and Benjamin Noval on Friday's ride out of the mountains as they retired from the race.

Popovych, who finished 12th last year, started the stage in 23rd place overall but moved up to 10th to revive his hopes of a Paris podium spot on 23 July.

"It was a hard stage because I'm still suffering from yesterday," said Popovych.

"But I knew that I couldn't arrive in a sprint with Freire or Ballan because they are very strong.

"I'm so far off in the general classification that we've now switched to going for stage wins."

Le Mevel failed to become the third successive Frenchman to win on France's national holiday.

The Credit Agricole rider said: "The three other guys were talking, and I don't know what they were cooking up.

"But when the attack went I just couldn't follow. I'm a bit disappointed."

The main peloton, including leader Landis, came in four-and-a-half minutes after the breakaway group.

The Phonak rider holds an eight-second lead over Frenchman Cyril Dessel with Denis Menchov third.

Australian Robbie McEwen retained his lead in the points standings while David de la Fuente holds onto his King of the Mountains jersey.

Results from stage 12:
1. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine / Discovery Channel ) 4:34:58"
2. Alessandro Ballan (Italy / Lampre ) +27"
3. Oscar Freire (Spain / Rabobank ) +29"
4. Christophe Le Mevel (France / Credit Agricole ) +35"
5. Tom Boonen (Belgium / Quick-Step ) +4:25"
6. Robbie McEwen (Australia / Davitamon - Lotto ) same time
7. Francisco Ventoso (Spain / Saunier Duval ) same time
8. Erik Zabel (Germany / Milram ) same time
9. Daniele Bennati (Italy / Lampre ) same time
10. Thor Hushovd (Norway / Credit Agricole ) same time
Selected others:
91 David Millar (GB/Saunier Duval) +35.47
112 Bradley Wiggins (GB/Confidis) + 40.32

General classification:
1. Floyd Landis (U.S. / Phonak ) 53:57:30"
2. Cyril Dessel (France / AG2R ) +8"
3. Denis Menchov (Russia / Rabobank ) +1:01"
4. Cadel Evans (Australia / Davitamon - Lotto ) +1:17"
5. Carlos Sastre (Spain / Team CSC ) +1:52"
6. Andreas Kloeden (Germany / T-Mobile ) +2:29"
7. Michael Rogers (Australia / T-Mobile ) +3:22"
8. Juan Miguel Mercado (Spain / Agritubel ) +3:33"
9. Christophe Moreau (France / AG2R ) +3:44"
10. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine / Discovery Channel ) +4:15"
Selected others:
73 David Millar (GB/Saunier Duval) + 43:10
143 Bradley Wiggins (GB/Cofidis) + 1hr 14mins 49secs

Stage 12 as it happened
14 Jul 06 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage 12 photos
14 Jul 06 |  Cycling

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