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Chicchi wins farcical stage in Britain

On Saturday in Canterbury, 25 year-old Italian Francesco Chicchi took his third season victory in the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain, beating Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) and Aart Vierhouten (Skil-Shimano) in a sprint finish.

However, the stage turned out to be somewhat of a farce. Due to a lack of organisation in closing the race route to traffic, the peloton chose to strike en masse, venting their frustration by riding at 'tourist pace' until 30 kilometres to go.

"The strike at the beginning was not only about the misdirection, but also about the fact that security has been somewhat lacking during the previous days," said CSC directeur-sportif Tristan Hoffman in a team statement.

"The organisers made a guarantee that this would be rectified for the remainder of the race, and then there was no alternative but to continue. There was a lot of debating among the riders on the route, but in the end it did turn into an actual race, and we made sure we got through without taking any chances," said Hoffman.

"The team worked for me today, and I really couldn't go wrong," said Chicchi. "Boonen and then Pozzato both piloted me splendidly. 200 metres from the finish line, I launched myself into the sprint. The thing that surprised me most was the fact that champions such as Boonen, Pozzato and Nuyens put themselves at my disposal. They had faith in me and I repaid them for their trust by winning the stage."

Team CSC's Martin Pedersen will be wearing the leader's jersey going into tomorrow's final stage, which concludes with a circuit of London.

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