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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vasseur Solo Ride Takes Stage, Overall Lead

LA CHATRE, France -- Frenchman Cedric Vasseur emulated his father Alain's achievement 27 years ago by winning a Tour de France stage Thursday after a 147 kilometer breakaway between Chantonnay and La Chatre.


But the 26-year-old rider also went one better than his father by taking the race leader's yellow jersey off Mario Cipollini's shoulders at the end of the first successful breakaway in this Tour.


Vasseur, who now leads the Italian sprinter by 2 minutes 17 seconds overall, also recaptured the leader's jersey for his GAN team, which held it after the victory of Briton Chris Boardman in the prologue.


"I thought about my father, and near the finish, I knew I was doing even better by taking the leader's jersey," Vasseur said.


The win represented revenge for the GAN team, which has collected 25 second places this season including one in the previous stage through Frederic Moncassin.


The long 261.5 kilometer stage was also the first in four days without a serious crash, but saw the exit of Swiss Alex Zuelle, second in 1995 and among the pre-race favorites.


Having started the race just two weeks after surgery on a broken collarbone, the Once team leader did not turn up for the start of the fifth stage.


"Alex Zuelle, who has suffered a lot of incidents since the start of the Tour, does not want to take any more risks in order not to jeopardize the rest of his season. He is therefore a nonstarter this morning," the Tour organizers announced.


Zuelle was involved in a fall Wednesday for the third successive stage this week. Although not injured, he was only 73rd overall, 4 minutes 17 seconds behind leader Cipollini.


The bespectacled 28-year-old winner of last year's Tour of Spain suffered two bad crashes last month in the Dauphine Libere in France in mid-June and the Tour of Switzerland a week later when he broke his collarbone.


His fifth-place finish in Saturday's prologue time trial reassured his followers that he was in good shape, but between Monday and Wednesday he had the misfortune to be involved in mass pile-ups that have marred the early days of the Tour.


Veteran compatriot Tony Rominger, leader of the French Cofidis team, crashed out of his last Tour on Tuesday when he suffered a double fracture of the right collarbone in a fall. Spaniard Vicente Garcia-Acosta and Italy's Fabiano Fontanelli pulled out injured Wednesday after several riders were involved in a crash.