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Zülle takes overall lead after mountain stage

Zülle now leads the race by six seconds

(Keystone)

Local favourite Alex Zülle is the overall leader of the Tour de Suisse after finishing second on the third stage of the race.

The Swiss braved a heat wave, summer storms and tough mountain climbs to finish three seconds behind Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov.

In addition to the stage victory, Vinokourov also earned the honour of having a local mountain named after him. Authorities in Samnaun in the rugged eastern corner of Switzerland christened a hitherto anonymous peak, Piz Vinokourov.

The 33-year-old Swiss veteran, Alexander Zülle, who rides for Team Coast, earned the second place. Switzerland's Laurent Dufaux finished third, both in the 157.6km stage and in the overall standings.

The 13km-long climb to the finish line separated the pack and led to some early victims of the ten-day-tour. The Italian Francesco Casagrande lost five minutes and three seconds, compatriot Davide Rebellin 5:36 minutes and Paolo Savoldelli - winner of the Giro d'Italia - a whopping 13:21 minutes, basically ruling them out of contention for the race.

France's Eddy Lembo, the overall leader on Thursday, dropped out unable to withstand the challenge. German sprint specialist and world number one, Erik Zabel, finished in 59th place to fall back to a lowly 73rd in the overall standings.

swissinfo with agencies


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