Italy’s Mario Cipollini extended his overall race lead with a victory in the second stage of the Tour de France, a 163-mile journey from Saint-Valery-en-Caux to the Normandy town of Vire.
Cipollini beat Germany’s Erik Zabel and Jeroen Blijlevens of the Netherlands in a sprint finish Monday for his second win in as many days.
The 30-year-old sprint specialist, who won five stages in the recent Tour of Italy, is 36 seconds ahead of Britain’s Chris Boardman, with last year’s runner-up, Jan Ullrich of Germany, 2 seconds back in third.
“I’m on top form right now,” Cipollini - sporting an all-yellow outfit with yellow bike to match his leader’s jersey - told reporters.
“I’ll be looking to win again tomorrow (today). The sprinters must make the most of the flat stages before we hit the mountains next week.”
Cipollini has never made it to the end of the three-week race in four previous attempts, though he says he wants to make an effort to finish this time around.
Veteran Tony Rominger remains in fourth place overall.