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Tour de France at a glance

Stage 4: Villers-Cotterets to Joigny, 119.9 miles.

Stage winner: Thor Hushovd (Norway), Credit Agricole, in 4 hours 37 minutes 47 seconds.

How he did it: Hushovd said he has "complete trust" in his lead-out man, New Zealand's Julian Dean, and followed him when Dean began to sprint for position 450 meters from the finish at the end of an unusually long (3-mile) straightaway. South African speedster Robert Hunter of the Barloworld team just missed catching Hushovd. It was the Norwegian's fifth career Tour stage win and a confidence-booster after a poor early season in the classic (one-day) races that are his specialty.

Overall leader: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), CSC, by 29 seconds over Hushovd.

Inside the peloton: CSC's Dave Zabriskie, a Salt Lake City native whose offbeat personality and talent in time trials have made him familiar to US cycling fans, got an offbeat gift from town officials at the start of yesterday's stage -- a basket of apples. Zabriskie finished last in Tuesday's stage, a placement referred to as the "lanterne rouge," named after the red light on the back of a caboose. The apples apparently were supposed to represent the dubious honor. Zabriskie, whose role in this Tour will be to ride in support of team leader Carlos Sastre, was somewhat elusive about his condition when he spoke to a couple of American reporters. First he said he was "enjoying myself," then said, "Not really," when asked if he was experiencing a specific physical problem. "That means maybe," he elaborated. "I've done a lot of races up to this point and I'm just trying to save any energy I can. No big deal." Zabriskie finished near the back of the pack yesterday, 2:45 behind the leaders.

BONNIE DeSIMONE

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