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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Lastras wins sprint finish
Stage 18: Bordeaux - Saint-Maixent-l'Ecole - 203.5km.

Spaniard Pablo Lastras
Spaniard Pablo Lastras won a classic sprint finish on Stage 18 of the Tour de France as the leading pair of Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich were happy to spend the day in the peloton.

Ibanesto rider Lastras fought off Carlos da Cruz and Daniele Nardello in the final few metres after stage leader David Canada was caught in the closing 100m.

"It was a very difficult stage, because it was very fast," said Lastras.

"I wanted this victory for my mother, who died four months ago."

The main pack arrived at the finish over 20 minutes later, giving the crowd another sprint, this time won by Robbie McEwen who took the green jersey.

A group of 16 riders broke away after 61km and stayed ahead as it contained no-one who could threaten the yellow jersey.

It's not important losing two seconds
Lance Armstrong
The only movement at the top of the general classification came early on, when Ullrich launched an unexpected attack on the first bonus sprint.

With McEwen ahead of him, the German came in second to grab a four-second bonus.

But Armstrong was alert and retaliated to take third - and two seconds - to lead by one minute five seconds overall.

"I'm relaxed," said Armstrong. "I remain confident because I've raced very well in the last time trial over the last four years.

"It's not important losing two seconds. I don't think the Tour will be decided by two seconds.

"I'm staying calm and confident. I'm going to keep cool and ride my race."

McEwen ended the day on 178 points in the green jersey battle, two clear of fellow Australian Baden Cooke.

Stage 18 result:

1 Pablo Lastras (Spa) - 4hrs 3mins 18secs
2 Carlos Da Cruz (Fra) - at same time
3 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Telekom
4 David Canada (Spa) Quick.Step-Davitamon at 0.04
5 Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis - Credit Par Telephone at 0.19
6 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance - at same time
7 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere
8 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Saeco at same time
9 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Bianchi at 0.35
10 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Alessio - at same time

Links to more Tour de France 2003 stories


BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"Lastre came through at the last"

Green jersey holder Robbie McEwen
"The stage went perfectly for me"




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