Paulinho gives Radio Shack first Tour win

GAP, France, (Reuters) – Sergio Paulinho gave Lance  Armstrong’s team RadioShack their first victory in the Tour de  France when he won the 179-km 10th stage in Gap yesterday.

The 2004 Olympic silver medallist was also the first  Portuguese to win an individual Tour stage in 21 years and only  the fourth rider from his country to do so.

Paulinho, who also won a Vuelta d’Espana stage in 2006,  outsprinted Belarus’s Vasil Kiryienka on the line while Belgium  Dries Devenyns was third, one minute 29 seconds behind.

The three belonged to a group of six escapees who spent most  of a scorching day in the front and crossed the line 14 minutes  and 19 seconds ahead of the main bunch, which included overall  leader Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. “This is the most important win in my career. The Tour is  the greatest cycling race in the world, the one you dream about  as a kid. So this is better than my Olympic medal,” the  30-year-old Paulinho told reporters. “We had been looking for a win for some time. It’s a great  relief after all the hard luck we’ve had since the beginning of  the Tour.

“I hope this will boost the team’s morale and help us win  more stages,” he said.
RadioShack, assembled by seven-times champion Armstrong at  the end of last season, has struggled since the start of the  Tour.


They lost time on the cobbles in stage three before being  forced to help their leader when he crashed and cracked in  Sunday’s stage to Morzine, finishing 11:45 behind winner  Schleck.

“We still have Levi Leipheimer as our leader and we’re also  going for the team classification,” said Paulinho, one of  Armstrong’s closest aides as well as one of defending champion  Alberto Contador’s best friends.

“As for Lance, he has a good morale, and I’m convinced that  without the hard luck in the first week, he would still be in  contention to win the Tour.”

Team RadioShack sports director Alain Gallopin told  reporters: “He is so selfless, he fully deserves this victory.

“I have been working with him for two years now and I have  been telling him that he should take his chance.”

Overall, Schleck retained his 41 seconds lead over Spaniard  Contador.

“Once the break started, we took it relatively easy but we  still spent six hours in the heat and it was hard,” Schleck  said.

Todday’s 184.5-km 11th stage to Bourg les Valence should  see sprinters take centre stage again.
Briton Mark Cavendish signalled he might well be the man to  beat again as he overpowered Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi and  Norway’s Thor Hushovd to win the peloton’s sprint for ninth  place.

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