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Savoldelli retains Tour de Romandie lead

4/26/2006

PAYERNE, Switzerland -- Robbie McEwen of Australia won a mass sprint Wednesday to take the first stage of the Tour de Romandie.

Prologue winner Paolo Savoldelli of Italy remained atop the
standings after finishing in the pack with the same time as McEwen
in rainy conditions.

McEwen, supported by his Davitamon teammates, covered the 105-mile route that looped back to Payerne in 4 hours, 10.21
seconds. Italy's Mirco Lorenzetto was second with the same time,
followed by countryman Daniele Bennati.

Russia's Dmitri Konyshev broke away at the 15-mile mark to build an 11.14-second advantage over the leading peloton after 62 miles. The pack began to close in on the 40-year-old veteran during the
hike up the Gruyere.

Konyshev's lead was down to 4:20 with 28 miles to go, and his
lead dwindled as the rain began to fall. McEwen caught Konyshev
12.5 miles from the finish, after the Russian had ridden 77 miles
by himself.

Jan Ullrich, in his debut race of the season, finished with the
pack. The German had finished 90th in the prologue.

Two crashes occurred 27 and 11 miles before the finish line, but
no one was seriously injured.

The 106-mile second stage begins and ends in Porrentruy on
Thursday.