Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) won the 19th stage of the Tour from Morzine to Macon on Friday, out sprinting fellow Italian Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) and Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) after they jumped away from the remains of the decisive 15-rider break of the day 15km from Macon.
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) finished safely in the peloton and so retained the overall race lead before Saturday's decisive 57km time trial. He still leads Carlos Sastre (CSC) by 12 seconds, with Floyd Landis (Phonak) third at 30 seconds.
"I'm pretty fast in a sprint but so are Moreni and Scholz and so I knew I couldn't make any mistakes," Tosatto said.
"I started the sprint early to anticipate Moreni and when I went I knew I'd got it. I've wonsome important races during my carrer but I'm pleased to have finally won a stage at the Tour because you're not a 'real' pro uuntil you've won a stage here."
As expected the stage was chracterised by breakaway attempts as the overal contenders saved their energy for Saturday's time trial. David Millar (Sauner Duval) was part of a move after four kilometre with Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) and Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux). They got a 1-20 gap and made it to the first sprint but were then quickly pulled them back. The 15 rider-move went 12km later and this time the bunch let them go. Leipheimer an attack but he was pulled back with 20km to go and then Tosatto, Moreni and Scholz shot clear.
1 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick-Step-Innergetic 197km in 4.16.15
2 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis
3 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.02
4 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas 0.47
5 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole 1.03
6 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
7 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance
8 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux
9 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Discovery Channel
Overall standings after stage 18
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 84.33.04
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.12
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 0.30
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 3.08
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 4.14
7 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 4.24
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 5.45
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 8.16
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 12.13
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