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Trofimov wins 4th stage of Criterium du Dauphine

AP - Sports

GAP, France (AP) -- Yury Trofimov won the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday, while Chris Froome recovered from a punctured tire to keep the overall lead.

Trofimov, of Russia, completed the 167.5-kilometer (104-mile) leg from Montelimar to Gap in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 22 seconds. Sweden's Gustav Larsson was 23 seconds back in second place and Pim Ligthart of the Netherlands took third.

Trofimov was part of a group of riders that broke away at the 21-kilometer (13-mile) mark to build a lead that reached nearly five minutes. The Katusha rider then pulled away on the ascent of the last climb of the stage, Col de Manse.

''I can't believe I won. I knew this climb since the Tour de France last year. I was already in the breakaway,'' Trofimov said. ''In the beginning of the stage, I saved my legs for the end, then I rode flat out in the climb. I gave the maximum. I knew who was who in the breakaway. Now I'd like to win a stage at the Tour de France, as well.''

Froome suffered a punctured tire 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the finish, but the British rider changed his bike and got back into the race with help from teammate Geraint Thomas.

The 2013 Tour de France winner is still 12 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador of Spain in the overall standings and 21 seconds clear of Wilco Kelderman of the Netherlands.

''I wouldn't say it was an easy stage but, once again, I have to say thank you to my teammates for having made it a trouble-free day,'' Froome said. ''It was our intention to let the yellow jersey go and another team take it before the weekend of racing. But in the end, the race was just so fast that we reached the finishing line quickly after the breakaway riders.''

Norwegian rider Thor Hushovd, the 2010 world champion, did not start the fourth stage.

''I am not feeling good and I'm suffering on the bike,'' he said. ''I have to realize this is not normal. So instead of pushing through more, I decided together with the team that I will withdraw.''

Gianni Meersman of Belgium also dropped out of the stage after 80 kilometers (50 miles).

Thursday's stage is a 189.5-kilometer (118-mile) trek from Sisteron to La Mure featuring six climbs. The race ends on Sunday.

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