Stuart O'Grady's sprinting talent put him in the lead of the Tour de France.
The Australian gained world and Olympic medals for his powerful sprinting on a cycling track. On the 157-mile fourth stage of the Tour on Wednesday, he used that ability to gain precious bonus seconds to gain the overall lead in the race.He became the fourth rider to lead the overall standings in the first five days of racing, counting Saturday's prologue.
Meanwhile, the Tour's drug drama continued with Bruno Roussel, the Festina team director, and the team doctor, Erik Ryckaert, interviewed by the police just after the stage ended.
The Internation Cycling Union suspended Roussel from his cycling functions Thursday due to the growing drug controversy surrounding his team, meaning he is temporarily out of the Tour.
The ICU announced Thursday morning, just before the start of the fifth stage, that Roussel had failed to respond adequately to an investigation from the French Cycling Federation.
It said it had suspended his cycling license, and therefore he will not be able to work on the Tour.
O'Grady won a pair of intermediate sprints and came in third in another to gain 14 extra seconds. Although he finished eight seconds behind of Wednesday's main pack, he came out ahead in the overall standings.
He leads Bo Hamburger, Tuesday's leader, by 11 seconds, with George Hincapie of the United States third, also 11 seconds behind.
O'Grady's GAN teammate, Chris Boardman, won the prologue and had the yellow jersey for a day before falling on Monday.
"I saw the pressure that Chris was under for just six minutes of racing," O'Grady said. "It was absolutely incredible. But then we worked for him to hold on to the yellow jersey, and I remember he came to me and said, `I wish I could do the same for you some day,'
"For me to wear the yellow jersey is a dream come true," O'Grady said. "And to be only the second Australian makes me very proud."
Australian Phil Anderson wore it briefly over four different Tours in the early 1980s.
O'Grady was lucky to avoid getting caught in traffic when a tight turn about two miles from the finish cut the pack in two.
Jeroen Blijlevens of the Netherlands took the sprint finish over a small group that was at the head of the pack and avoided trouble.
Blijlevens won the sprint for his fourth individual stage victory. Second was Italian Nicola Minali, with Czech Jan Svorada third.
Most of the pack was eight seconds behind after a fall delayed many of them.
As the stage ended, Roussel and Ryckaert were talking with the police about the growing drug controversy.
The Festina team issued a statement saying it was Roussel's wish to explain how the team operates and deny charges by another member of the Festina team.
French law allows up to 48 hours before any further action can be taken, and Roussel could miss the fifth stage of the race Thursday.
Last week, a Belgian member of Festina's team was arrested after police found a large quantity of performance-enhancing drugs in the Festina car he was driving.
According to judicial sources, after first admitting the drugs were for his personal use, the man said that he was under orders.
Festina officials denied those accusations and said that they hired two lawyers to protect their image and riders.
Also, Festina's main sponsors, the watch company of Festina, was threatening to break its contract with the team if there is any evidence of drug use among the riders.