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Vande Velde claims stage

AMERICAN Christian Vande Velde won the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice race as favorite Alberto Contador made up lost ground with a sharp attack in the last climb on Wednesday.

Garmin-Slipstream's Vande Velde broke away from a small group with some 20 kilometers remaining in the 173.5-km stage from Vichy to Saint-Etienne and never looked back.

He crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of Frenchman Jonathan Hivert of Skil-Shimano and Lampre's Mirco Lorenzetto of Italy, who were second and third, respectively.

"I had not planned this attack, I kind of found myself in front by chance," Vande Velde, fifth overall in last year's Tour de France, said.

Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel of France retained the overall lead despite suffering in the ascent of the Cote de Rochetaillee and losing 27 seconds to Contador, who attacked two km from the summit.

Contador, who will be on favorite ground today in the summit finish at the Montagne de Lure, moved up to fourth overall, 36 seconds behind.


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