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Andrea Noe first in Leysin as Tour de Romandie approaches climax

The Italian cyclist, Andrea Noe, has won the fourth stage of the Tour de Romandie in Leysin, finishing eight seconds ahead of his compatriot, Francesco Casagrande.

The penultimate stage, run over a distance of 164 kilometres between Champagne and Leysin was dominated by the Italians. Gilberto Simoni and Wladimir Belli took third and fourth place, coming in 12 seconds behind Noe.

Switzerland's Laurent Dufaux finished in fifth and was the only non-Italian to make it into the top six. The happiest Italian of them all tonight, though, will be Paolo Savoldelli who came in just behind Dufaux to retake the leader's green jersey.

The Basque cyclist, Joseba Beloki, had snatched the jersey from the Italian after a surprisingly strong performance in Friday's third stage. But Saturday's mountainous terrain, on the steepest of the tour's stages, saw the Spaniard finish in 13th place, 34 seconds behind Noe.

Beloki remains the nearest challenger to Savoldelli in the overall ratings, going into Sunday's final stage. The riders will cover another 178 kilometre stretch before the winner of the Tour de Romandie crosses the final finishing line in Geneva.

Hopes of a Swiss win now seem to lie with Dufaux who is third overall, with 27 seconds to make up on Sunday. Noe's impressive mountain riding has elevated him to fourth place, ten seconds further back than Dufaux.

by Mark Ledsom

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