Two seconds is all that separates George Hincapie from the yellow jacket in the Tour de France.
The American cycling champion from Charlotte trailed Dane Bo Hamburger in the overall standings after Tuesday's third stage in which a small group of riders broke away to gain an advantage over the main group.Hincapie, a member of the U.S. Postal team, was third on the day. But he participated in the breakaway and got a second in one of the bonus sprints. Hamburger got two wins and a third and gained 14 seconds compared to Hincapie's four to take the overall lead from him.
For the stage victory, German Jens Heppner held off Xavier Jan of France in a final sprint of the 105-mile leg south through Brittany from Roscoff to Lorient on the west coast of France.
Hincapie was upset over the French and German non-participation on the holiday.
If Hincapie would have won the stage, he would have gotten 20 bonus seconds, enough to put him first.
However he tired at the end.
"I cramped with about 10 kilometers to go. I floated in the back until my legs came back," he said.
"The FDJ guy (Jan) and Telekom guy (Heppner) were sitting up all day," Hincapie said, meaning they were not pushing hard during the fast pace.
"With a sprint like that at the end, it is different because everyone is so wasted except for those two other guys," Hincapie said.
That gave Hamburger the chance to get close enough to take the overall lead.
The Tour de France tried to settle down after three hectic days and one hectic night in Ireland.
Britain's Chris Boardman won the prologue and held the leader's yellow jersey for a day before crashing out in Monday's stage to Cork.