Rasmussen leads as Vasseur wins stage on swansong

July 19, 2007 - 0:0

MARSEILLE, France (AFP) -- French veteran Cedric Vasseur gave the hosts their first victory of this year's Tour de France when he beat compatriot Sandy Casar by a wheel rim on the 229.5km 10th stage here Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Vasseur, riding his 10th and final Tour with the Quick Step team, won a tight sprint finish after 5hr 20min 24sec of racing under the sweltering heat from Tallard ahead of Casar. Swiss rider Michael Albasini of Liquigas finished a bike length back in third. It was the second stage win for Vasseur and comes ten years after his victory in 1997 at La Chatre when he wore the yellow jersey for five days. ""It's a great gift,"" said Vasseur, whose victory means Quick Step now have three stage wins on this year's race. ""It was the 10th stage on my 10th Tour and this morning a close friend told me that this was going to be my day. ""I knew a breakaway would form, and I was just lucky that I got into the right one. Once we'd got a good gap on the peloton I started to think maybe it would be my day."" Denmark's Michael Rasmussen, of the Rabobank team, retained the race lead. Rasmussen will begin his third day in the yellow jersey on today's 11th stage with his advantage on most of his rivals intact after the main peloton finally allowed an 11-man breakaway group to finish the race unhindered. It was the first time a breakaway has succeeded on a non-mountain stage of this year's race, although that was perhaps symptomatic of the peloton's fatigue after three tough days in the Alps. Germany's Marcus Burghardt was the instigator after the race's first small climb at 57km, although the big T-Mobile rider, who crashed on Tuesday when a dog ran into his path, again missed out on contending the stage win. He initially built a small lead, was caught by a 10-man group at the 81km mark and they went on to build a 14-minute lead on the bunch after 127km