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By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2001
Mercatone Uno’s Marco Pantani pulled out of the Settimana Lombarda prior to the start of Saturday’s 187km fourth stage from Roncadelle.
The 31-year-old rider, winner of the 1998 Tour de France and Giro d’Italia double, also pulled out of the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this month, because of a recurring bronchitis problem.
“There was no question that he would take any risk before the Giro. It’s better for him to train on roads he knows and in more favourable climatic conditions,” said Mercatone team manager Giuseppe Martinelli.
After three stages of the five-day event, Liquigas’s Sergei Gontchar maintains a five-second lead over Mapei’s Dario Cioni. 1. Sergey Gontchar (Ukr), Liquigas-Pata 13:15:11; 2. Dario David Cioni (I), Mapei-Quick Step, at 0:05; 3. Pascal Herve (F), Alexia Alluminio, at 0:24; 4. Didier Rous (F), Bonjour; 5. Volodymir Gustov (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo; 6. Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz), Cantina Tollo Acqua Sapone; 7. Ivan Gotti (I), Alessio; 8. Franco Pellizzotti (I), Alessio; 9. Filippo Simeoni (I), Cantina Tollo Acqua Sapone; 10. Giuseppe Guerini (I), Deutsche Telekom, all s.t.