LAWS CRASHES IN TRAINING
Sharon Laws, the Halfords Bikehut rider, crashed in training yesterday and an x-ray has revealed a hairline fracture of her ankle.

Today she will see a sports specialist to assess the damage, but it?s too early to speculate on whether the injury will keep her out of action for any length of time.

The national 25-mile time trial champion has been racing in Abergavenny this week ahead of next Saturday?s National Championship road race.

COOKE POISED TO STRIKE IN GRANDE BOUCLE
After a very long second day, Nicole Cooke has moved up to third place overall in the Grande Boucle, 13 seconds behind current leader Diana Zilute of Lithuania. Loes Markerink of Holland is second, four seconds off the pace.

There were two stages yesterday, meaning a ludicrously long day for the 67-strong field. Cooke (making a guest appearance for Swift Racing) was second in both of them.

In the morning they raced 61 kilometres from Wallers in France, to La Louviere in Belgium, starting at 10am. The Dutch rider Markerink won the bunch sprint ahead of Cooke and Zilute to take the yellow jersey by a second.

Helen Wyman (Swift) finished safely in the bunch but Emma Silversides (Lotto-Belisol) lost ground on the run-in and was 48th, 11 seconds off the pace.

After a break for lunch they headed back to France, covering 90 kilometres on stage three, which finished in Fourmies.

This time the race split up more with an 11-rider group staying clear to the finish. Zilute won, with Cooke again second. Markerink finished third to clinch a time bonus and keep Zilute in sight overall. The other favourites Priska Doppman and Karin Thurig ? who tried her luck on the attack before being caught six kilometres from the line – also made the split.

Emma Silversides (24th) and Helen Wyman (30th) were in what remained of the peloton, at 35 seconds.

The second stage finished at 6.30pm. With the morning stage taking an hour and a half and the afternoon stage last two-and-a-half hours, it made for an extremely gruelling day.

Today?s fourth stage is a 108-kilometre leg from Montdidier to Drancy. It?s largely flat, featuring just one fourth-category climb at the halfway mark. Friday?s 40-kilometre time trial will be the first major battleground before the two mountain stages at the weekend.

Overall standings after three stages
1. Diana Zilute (Lit) Safi Pasta in 5-54-06
2. Loes Markerink (Ned) Flexpoint at 4sec
3. Nicole Cooke (GB) Swift Racing at 13sec
4. Karin Thurig (Swi) Lifeforce at 18sec
34. Helen Wyman (GB) Swift Racing at 56sec
40. Emma Silversides (GB) Lotto-Belisol at 1-30

THOMAS LOSES GROUND ON THE CAUBERG
Geraint Thomas slipped from third place overall in the Ster Elektrotoer as the second stage finished on top of the Cauberg, the hill most famous for hosting the finish of the Amstel Gold Race.

CSC?s Matti Breschel won the stage as the field broke up on the climb. Roger Hammond (High Road) was the first Brit home, in the third group (68th place) at 16 seconds.

Mark Cavendish (High Road) and Thomas (Barloworld) were 102nd and 107th in a group 1-02 down after losing ground on the hilly run-in. Cavendish?s team-mate, the German Tony Martin, leads Koen De Kort (Astana) by eight seconds overall.

Today?s third stage is another lumpy one, running 192 kilometres from Verviers to La Gileppe over the Belgian border.

HUNT CONTINUES TOUR BUILD-UP
Jeremy Hunt is named in the Crédit Agricole team for the Route du Sud, a stage race that takes place in the foothills of the Pyrenees and starts today.

Hunt is looking likely to win a place in the Tour de France as chief lead-out man for Thor Hushovd. At 34 it would be only Hunt?s second grand tour appearance in 12-and-a-half years as a professional. He started the 2002 Vuelta a Espana for the French Big Mat team but pulled out on stage seven as the race hit the mountains.

The Route du Sud starts with a stage from Lusignan to Boulogne-sur-Gesse. Friday?s stage is an uphill time trial to Cambasque. The toughest stage is on Saturday, finishing at the top of Superbagneres. The race ends on Sunday in Castres.

Daniel Martin, the Irishman who rides for Slipstream, but who is a former British national junior champion, is also in the field following his eighth place at the GP Internacional stage race in Portugal.

LAST IS FIRST KINESIS MAN IN SERBIA
After three of the Tour of Serbia?s seven stages, the Kinesis team are holding their own. Tom Last is the best-placed of the Kinesis riders overall, 31st, 2-19 behind current leader Rubiano Chavez Miguel Angel of Colombia.

WORLD MTB CHAMPIONSHIPS UNDERWAY
Annie Last was Britain?s only rider in the junior women?s cross country race at the World Mountain Bike Championships at Val di Sole in Italy. She finished eighth, eight minutes down on winner Laura Abril of Colombia.

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