Armstrong retains Tour de France lead as McEwen wins fifth stage
MONTARGIS, France ” Lance Armstrong retained the overall lead in the Tour de France when he cruised to a safe finish in Wednesday’s fifth stage, won by Robbie McEwen of Australia.
Armstrong, going for a seventh straight Tour victory, crossed the finish in 45th place in a pack of riders that clocked the same time as McEwen ” 3 hours, 46 minutes ” for the 113.7-mile ride from Chambord to Montargis. He has the yellow jersey for the 68th time.
McEwen, of Davitamon-Lotto, sped ahead of Belgian Tom Boonen in a final sprint to collect his sixth Tour stage win and his first this year.
Boonen has won two stages this year, both sprint finishes.
The nervous pack of riders battled wind, intermittent rain and slick roads, and there were several crashes. CSC leader Ivan Basso, seen as a potential contender for a Tour victory, was a crash victim.
Armstrong took the yellow jersey Tuesday from fellow American David Zabriskie, a Team CSC rider who fell in a dramatic crash in the final moments of the stage.
The six-time Tour winner started the day opting not to wear the leader’s yellow jersey, citing “respect” for Zabriskie. Armstrong set off in his Discovery Channel uniform in the pre-race ride, but race officials stopped everybody before the starting line and asked Armstrong to wear it.
“There was no problem, just a little confusion in the beginning, having not started in the jersey,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t feel that it was right to start in the jersey.”
Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc got strict about the rule book, which states that the overall race leader “must wear” the yellow jersey.
“There was no negotiation,” Armstrong said. “Jean-Marie said: ‘You don’t start in the jersey, and you don’t start tomorrow.’ So I said ‘OK.”‘
Before the stage, Armstrong wanted to follow an unofficial tradition by not donning the jersey.
“In light of the tradition of the last 30 or 40 years, no one really takes it if there is a crash” involving the race leader, he said. “We decided to leave it empty today.”
Declining to wear the yellow jersey after a leader crashes is nothing new. In 1971, Eddy Merckx took the race lead after a spill by Luis Ocana, but opted not to wear the jersey the next day. In 1998, Britain’s Chris Boardman crashed in the second stage and Germany’s Erik also decided against wearing the yellow jersey for the third stage.
Meanwhile, Leblanc expresed sadness over the International Olympic Committee’s decision to choose London over Paris as the host city for the 2012 Games. Tour organizers had helped promote the Paris bid.
“We’ve been hit by a sort of moroseness since the announcement about London’s victory,” Leblanc said. “We have the feeling of having been beaten a bit unfairly.”
Armstrong said he heard the news mid-course.
“I am surprised by this decision,” Armstrong told a French television station. He said he had believed “that it was already decided, and that Paris had won.”
Armstrong got into trouble with some American fans in March, when he threw his support behind the Paris bid. He later backpedaled, saying that while he backed Paris, New York City was “the bid of my heart.”
A 113.7-mile ride from Chambord to Montargis favoring sprinters.
Robbie McEwen, Australia, Davitamon-Lotto, in 3 hours, 46 minutes.
Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step, finished second; Thor Hushovd, Norway, Credit Agricole, finished third. Lance Armstrong, United States, Discovery Channel, was 45th in the main pack. All were awarded the same time as McEwen.
Armstrong retains the overall lead.
“I didn’t feel that it was right to start in the (yellow) jersey.” ” Armstrong said after first refusing to wear the leader’s yellow jersey in deference to previous leader David Zabriskie, who fell in a crash in the final moments of the fourth stage.
Thursday’s sixth stage is a 199-mile trek from Troyes to Nancy, a mainly flat route with some hills, which again favors sprinters.
113.7 miles from Chambord to Montargis
1. Robbie McEwen, Australia, Davitamon-Lotto, 3 hours, 46 minutes.
2. Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step, same time.
3. Thor Hushovd, Norway, Credit Agricole, same time.
4. Stuart O’Grady, Australia, Cofidis, same time.
5. Angelo Furlan, Italy, Domina Vacanze, same time.
6. Allan Davis, Australia, Liberty Seguros, same time.
7. Bernhard Eisel, Austria, Francaise des Jeux, same time.
8. Baden Cooke, Australia, Francaise des Jeux, same time.
9. Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, same time.
10. Robert Forster, Germany, Gerolsteiner, same time.
11. Jean-Patrick Nazon, France, AG2R Prevoyance, same time.
12. Daniele Righi, Italy, Lampre, same time.
13. Maxim Iglinskiy, Kazakhstan, Domina Vacanze, same time.
14. Laurent Brochard, France, Bouygues Telecom, same time.
15. Peter Wrolich, Austria, Gerolsteiner, same time.
16. Daniel Becke, Germany, Illes Balears, same time.
17. David Loosli, Switzerland, Lampre, same time.
18. Oscar Pereiro Sio, Spain, Phonak, same time.
19. Jerome Pineau, France, Bouygues Telecom, same time.
20. Massimo Giunti, Italy, Fassa Bortolo, same time.
21. Guido Trenti, United States, Quick Step, same time.
41. Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, Discovery Channel, same time.
45. Lance Armstrong, United States, Discovery Channel, same time.
48. George Hincapie, United States, Discovery Channel, same time.
49. Manuel Beltran, Spain, Discovery Channel, same time.
56. Christopher Horner, United States, Saunier Duval, same time.
67. Fred Rodriguez, United States, Davitamon-Lotto, same time.
75. Benjamin Noval Gonzalez, Spain, Discovery Channel, same time.
76. Paolo Savoldelli, Italy, Discovery Channel, same time.
77. Bobby Julich, United States, CSC, same time.
88. Jose Luis Rubiera, Spain, Discovery Channel, same time.
97. Jose Azevedo, Portugal, Discovery Channel, same time.
100. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Gerolsteiner, same time.
105. Floyd Landis, United States, Phonak, same time.
130. Pavel Padrnos, Czech Republic, Discovery Channel, same time.
176. David Zabriskie, United States, CSC, same time.
1. Lance Armstrong, United States, Discovery Channel, 13 hours, 45 minutes, 12 seconds.
2. George Hincapie, United States, Discovery Channel, 55 seconds behind.
3. Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, 1:04 behind.
4. Bobby Julich, United States, CSC, 1:07.
5. Jose Luis Rubiera, Spain, Discovery Channel, 1:14.
6. Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, Discovery Channel, 1:16.
7. Alexandre Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, T-Mobile, 1:21.
8. Benjamin Noval Gonzalez, Spain, Discovery Channel, 1:26.
9. David Zabriskie, United States, CSC, 1:26.
10. Ivan Basso, Italy, CSC, 1:26.
11. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Norway, CSC, 1:32.
12. Pavel Padrnos, Czech Republic, Discovery Channel, 1:32.
13. Paolo Savoldelli, Italy, Discovery Channel, 1:33.
14. Jan Ullrich, Germany, T-Mobile, 1:36.
15. Carlos Sastre, Spain, CSC, 1:36.
16. Jose Azevedo, Portugal, Discovery Channel, 1:37.
20. Floyd Landis, United States, Phonak, 1:50.
23. Manuel Beltran, Spain, Discovery Channel, 2:12.
30. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Gerolsteiner, 2:31.
69. Fred Rodriguez, United States, Davitamon-Lotto, 3:57.
102. Christopher Horner, United States, Saunier Duval, 4:54.
141. Guido Trenti, United States, Quick Step, 5:39.
July 2 ” Stage 1, Fromentiere to Noirmoutier-en-L’Ile, individual time trial, 19 km (11.8 miles) (stage: David Zabriskie, United States; overall: Zabriskie)
July 3 ” Stage 2, Challans to Les Essarts, 181.5 (112.8) (Tom Boonen, Belgium; Zabriskie)
July 4 ” Stage 3, La Chataigneraie to Tours, 212.5 (132) (Boonen; Zabriskie)
July 5 ” Stage 4, Tours to Blois, team time trial, 67.5 (41.9) (Discovery Channel; Lance Armstrong, United States)
July 6 ” Stage 5, Chambord to Montargis, 183 (113.7) (Robbie McEwen, Australia; Armstrong)
July 7 ” Stage 6, Troyes to Nancy, 199 (123.7)
July 8 ” Stage 7, Luneville to Karlsruhe, Germany, 228.5 (142)
July 9 ” Stage 8, Pforzheim, Germany, to Gerardmer, France, 231.5 (143.8)
July 10 ” Stage 9, Gerardmer to Mulhouse, 171 (106.3)
July 11 ” Rest day in Grenoble.
July 12 ” Stage 10, Grenoble to Courchevel, 192.5 (119.6)
July 13 ” Stage 11, Courchevel to Briancon, 173 (107.5)
July 14 ” Stage 12, Briancon to Digne-les-Bains, 187 (116.2)
July 15 ” Stage 13, Miramas to Montpellier, 173.5 (107.8)
July 16 ” Stage 14, Agde to Ax-3 Domaines, 220.5 (137)
July 17 ” Stage 15, Lezat-sur-Leze to Saint-Lary Soulan, 205.5 (127.7)
July 18 ” Rest day in Pau.
July 19 ” Stage 16, Mourenx to Pau, 180.5 (112.2)
July 20 ” Stage 17, Pau to Revel, 239.5 (148.8)
July 21 ” Stage 18, Albi to Mende, 189 (105)
July 22 ” Stage 19, Issoire to Le Puy-en-Velay, 153.5 (95.4)
July 23 ” Stage 20, Saint-Etienne to Saint-Etienne, individual time trial, 55.5 (34.5)
July 24 ” Stage 21, Corbeil-Essonnes to Paris, Champs-Elysees, 144.5 (89.8)
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