CHOLET // Stefan Schumacher, of Germany, upset the Tour de France favourites to take a surprise win in yesterday's individual time trial. The result also moved the 26-year-old Gerolsteiner rider into the race lead after finishing 18 seconds up on his closest rival in the 29.5km fourth stage in and around Cholet. Fabian Cancellara, of Switzerland, had been the overwhelming favourite to win the stage but struggled to find his rhythm in the blustery conditions and had to be content with fifth.
Instead, Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen was the closest challenger to Schumacher's time of 35min 44sec, moving into second overall in the general classification in the process. Britain's David Millar, with a Union Jack-emblazoned rear disc wheel, rounded off the top three while the race favourite Cadel Evans finished an impressive fourth with an aggressive ride over the relatively flat terrain. More importantly for the Australian was the time gained on his expected closest challenger, Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who was more than a minute slower at the stage finish.
The likes of Evans and Valverde will hope to keep a low profile today, with the sprinters expected to return to the fore in the fifth stage from Cholet to Chateauroux, the longest of this year's race at 232km. @Email:email@example.com