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Curran lies third after three stages

Percy Bilton's Paul Curran was in third place overall after three stages despite still recuperating from a bout of chicken pox that has kept hom out of action in recent weeks.

Stage 2, New York City to Lehigh Valley, 123 miles

HENK Lubberding won this longest stage, but it was a first-year professional who stole the limelight from the 35-year-old Panasonic rider.

Britain's Paul Curran took third place on the stage, third overall, and also won the most aggressive rider prize for the stage.

America only had eyes for Dag Otto Lauritzen, who was forgiven for being Norwegian when he put 7-Eleven into the overall lead by virtue of his second place on the stage.

With its marathon length, the stage started a bore and there was a 35-mile neutralised zone out a New York City. Although Ekimov stole five seconds when he finished third in the time bonus sprint at 45 miles behind Eric Vanderaerden (Panasonic) and Greg LeMond (Coors-ADR), it was not until the Curran move at 79 miles that there was any real excitement.

Curran, Lubberding and Lauritzen had Ricardo Wilches (RyalcaoPostobon) to help build their lead to 1-22 before he was dropped.

The Montana climb, the third highest of the race at 2,100 feet should have been the death of the break, but with Dmitri Nelubin of Russia trying a lone attempt to join the leaders, his countrymen were not prepared to chase. PDM, Coors-ADR and Wheaties-Schwinn were the other main teams missing out, but they did nothing to halt the progress of the trio who were 3-42 ahead at the summit.

Nelubin had caught and dropped Wilches, but he was still at 1-31 and was doomed not be get any closer.

The leaders' maximum advantage was 4-31 and although it was reduced slightly in the closing miles, the bunch could not match the hard working breakaway.

Curran was dropped a few hundred yards from the finish and he watched as Lubberding jumped first and Lauritzen could not match him.

It was only after the finish that Curran's manager, John Herety revealed to race followers that his rider had only just recovered from chicken-pox and had been advised by his doctor not to ride the race.

'I was hanging on a bit in the end,' Curran admitted. 'The last hour hurt a bit, but it is a lack of training miles. I had only been out on a my bike last week.

'I was hoping that they did not attack with a few miles to go. In the sprint they only put a few yards into me,' he said.

Lauritzen said: 'I knew that the Russians were already tired as they had tried to counter every attack. That is why I attacked. I knew that I was in good shape before I came here'. An extra 1,500 dollars had been added to the stage prize, but Lubberding reckoned that it made no difference to his ride.

'After this race I go to the Giro and then the Tour de France,' the Dutchman said. 'I have won three Tour de France stages. I think that maybe I will ride for just one more year.

1. Henk Lubberding (Panasonic) 5-40-13
2. Lauritzen (7-Eleven) St
3. Curran (Percy Bilton) at 4 sec
4. Aldag (West Germany) at 3-16
5. Vanderaerden (Panasonic) at 3-20
6. Phinney (7-Eleven)
7. Schommmer (Crest)
8. Trkal (Cz)
9. Hundertmarck (West Germany)
10. McCarthy (USA) all st

Overall after 3 stages

1. Dag Otto Lauritzen (Norway) 7-Eleven, 10-20-37
2. Lubberding at 17 sec
3. Curran, at 55 sec
4. Ekimov (USSR) at 2-43
5. Theunisse (PDM) at 2-56
6. Montoya (Ryalcao-Postobon) at 3-12
7. Mulder (Celestial) at 3-33
8. Mejia (Ryaloao-Postobon) at 3-36
9. Rooks (PDM) at 3-46
10. Vanderaerden (Panasonic) at 3-49.