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Dauphiné Libéré stage 4 wrap-up

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) (Image credit: Luc Claessen)

Menchov tames the Ventoux again; Leipheimer in yellow

For the second time in his career, Russian Denis Menchov has won the Dauphiné Libéré's Mont Ventoux stage, beating Christophe Moreau (AG2R) and Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) to the summit of the legendary Giant of Provence. Menchov also won the stage in 2002, while riding for Banesto, and the Vuelta a España winner proved that he was on the right track for the Tour de France.

Levi Leipheimer, who finished third at 15 seconds, took over the leader's jersey in the process, and said that he intends to defend it over the coming days. "I definitely want to win the Dauphiné," he said. "Last year I let it slip through my fingers (the day after the Ventoux, he let a breakaway go with Axel Merckx and eventual winner Iñigo Landaluze, ed.). It's a beautiful race. I would love to win it. I will give everything."

The 186 km stage between Tain-l’Hermitage and Le Mont-Ventoux saw a nine man break go clear early on, containing Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Cédric Vasseur (Quick Step) and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), among others. But they were only allowed a maximum of six minutes as Française des Jeux (for leader Gilbert) rode tempo. At the foot of Ventoux, they had less than three minutes, and were quickly swallowed by the bunch. After Oscar Sevilla attacked first, it was the turn of José Azevedo (Discovery Channel), who gained 45 seconds by Chalet-Reynard with 6 km to go. But then Leipheimer led Menchov and Moreau up to the Portuguese rider, and the four fought it out for the stage honours.

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