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German Cyclist Pulls Ahead in Tour de France

Stefan Schumacher surprised the cycling world by winning the fourth stage of the 2008 Tour de France on Tuesday, July 9. It was the 26-year-old rider's first Tour stage victory.

Stefan Schumacher with a stuffed lion

Stefan Schumacher hopes to keep wearing yellow

Schumacher led the pack in an individual time trial in and around the western city of Cholet on Tuesday, taking the race leader's yellow jersey. The previous holder, Frenchman Romain Feillu, lagged in 169th place.

Schumacher's time for the 29.5-kilometer (18.3-mile) course was 35 minutes 44 seconds, with an average speed of 49.5 kph (30.8 mph). Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen finished 18 seconds behind Schumacher, with David Millar of Britain in third.

Schumacher now leads Kirchen in the standings by 12 seconds, with Millar in third, also 12 seconds behind.

"This is extraordinary," a delighted Schumacher told French television. "The course was perfect for me, because it had climbs and descents. It's great to be on the podium in the Tour de France."

Drug questions follow him

Schumacher's future in cycling was in doubt late last year when police found traces of amphetamine in his blood after a minor traffic accident. Schumacher said at the time that he didn't have the slightest idea how the drug came into his body.

German cycling officials said that since the drug was not detected in an official test, he would not be suspended.

Race remains tight

Australian Cadel Evans finished fourth on Tuesday, 27 seconds behind the winner. But he gained valuable time on his rivals for the title, especially Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who finished 23rd, 1 minute and 34 seconds behind the winner.

Valverde now stands 17th, 1 minute and 27 seconds behind Schumacher and 1 minute and 6 seconds behind Evans.

Wednesday's fifth stage takes the Tour into the foothills of the Massif Central. The race ends July 27 in Paris.

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