Tour de France: Armstrong leadsUllrich as sixth stage starts

9th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

9 July 2004 , BONNEVAL - The sixth stage of the 2004 Tour de France started on Friday, with five-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong still leading his most dangerous rivals, fellow American Tyler Hamilton and Jan Ullrich of Germany, in the overall standings.

9 July 2004

BONNEVAL - The sixth stage of the 2004 Tour de France started on Friday, with five-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong still leading his most dangerous rivals, fellow American Tyler Hamilton and Jan Ullrich of Germany, in the overall standings.

Young Frenchman Thomas Voeckler wearing the race leader's yellow jersey. Friday's 196-km course from Bonneval to Angers is straight and flat and should end in a mass sprint to the finish, unless the weather again becomes a factor.

A crash on the rain-slick pavement midway through Thursday's fifth stage slowed the peloton, or main pack, and allowed the 25-year-old Voeckler, part of a successful breakaway group, to snatch the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Lance Armstrong.

Rain and wind are again forecast for most of France for Friday.

Meanwhile, the world's top-ranked road cyclist Alessandro Petacchi and fellow Italian Mario Cipollini dropped out of the 2004 Tour de France Friday because of injuries, their respective teams announced.

The 30-year-old Petacchi suffered an injury to his left shoulder in a mass crash midway through Thursday's fifth stage, which was run in rain and strong winds.

After falling, he remained lying for several minutes on the pavement, before remounting his bicycle and resuming the race.

After winning four stages in last year's Tour and setting a post-war record by taking nine stages in this year's Giro d'Italia, Petacchi had been expected to rule the early going here.

However, the sprinter's best finish was an eighth place, and he was criticized by his team manager for being out of shape.

The 37-year-old Cipollini is a former world road cycling champion who has won a total of 12 Tour de France stages. Because of form problems, he had not participated in the Tour since 1999.

According to his Domina Vacanze team, he is suffering from an infection in his left leg following an injury in May's Giro d'Italia. His best finish in this year's Tour was a tenth place in Monday's second stage.

Another rider who had been expected to shine in the Tour, Australia's Bradley McGee, abandoned the race midway through Thursday's stage.

McGee injured his back in a fall in the first stage on Sunday and had trouble keeping up with the pace.

Of the 188 riders who started the Tour on July 3, 179 riders are still competing. The Tour ends 25 July in Paris.

DPA

Subject: German news

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