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Schumacher wins Giro d'Italia third stage, takes lead

5/8/2006

NEMUR, Belgium -- Germany's Stefan Schumacher won a rainy
third stage of the Giro d'Italia on Monday and took the overall
lead from defending champion Paolo Savoldelli in one of the top
races in European cycling.

Schumacher, who rides for the Gerolsteiner team, edged Jose
Rubiera, Davide Rebellin and Olympic champion Paolo Bettini at the
line.

He capitalized on a 20-second bonus from his victory to move 13
seconds ahead of Savoldelli, a former teammate of retired Tour de
France great Lance Armstrong.

"It's crazy to have won the stage and taken the leader's
pink jersey but it's a great double," Schumacher told reporters.

"I knew I could do well on the uphill finish but I didn't
really think I'd win. I followed Paolo Bettini on the climb
because he was the favourite and then went past him and
Rubiera.

"My wheels were slipping on the wet cobbles but I kept going
because I knew I was going to get the pink jersey."

Schumacher completed the 127 miles from Perwez to Nemur in 5
hours, 14 minutes, 41 seconds. Rubiera, the Spanish teammate of
Savoldelli with Discovery Channel, was two seconds behind. Italians
Rebellin and Bettini were six seconds back.

Alessandro Petacchi, Italy's best sprinter, finished nearly 15
minutes behind the winner after bruising his left knee in a crash
31 miles from Nemur. He withdrew from the race and will return to
Italy for surgery Tuesday, organizers said.

Tuesday's stage, 120 miles from Wanze to Hotton, will be the
Giro's last in Belgium. The cyclists will cross into Italy during
Wednesday's rest day. The 21-stage race ends May 28 in Milan.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.