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Armstrong leaves Tour lead to Voigt before Alps

July 10, 2005

By Francois Thomazeau

MULHOUSE, France (Reuters) – Lance Armstrong lost his Tour
de France leader’s yellow jersey to Germany’s Jens Voigt as the
race reached its first halt at the end of Sunday’s 171-km ninth
stage.

Isolated the day before in the first mountains of the Tour
when his Discovery Channel team mates unexpectedly faltered,
the six-times Tour champion was content to check out his main
rivals for overall victory in the six climbs on the stage
between Gerardmer and Mulhouse.

Dane Michael Rasmussen seized his chance to stage a long
solo breakaway and to give his Rabobank team their second
victory in succession in just over four hours and eight
minutes.

Voigt, who chased Rasmussen with France’s Christophe
Moreau, finished third, three minutes and four seconds behind
the Dane.

The CSC rider took the overall lead as the main pack,
including Armstrong, finished more than three minutes behind
him.

Voigt, who was one minute behind the Texan going into the
stage, was rewarded for his consistency since the start of the
Tour with his second yellow jersey. He led the Tour briefly for
one day in 2001.

But the powerful German, dubbed “the Boeing,” is not a high
mountain climber and is unlikely to keep the lead when the
peloton tackle the Alps after Monday’s rest day.

“I could not be happier but it cost me a lot of effort and
I expect to pay a high price in two days time,” Voigt said.

“But today I have the jersey and that’s great.”

MOVED CLEAR

Holder of the King of the Mountains polkadot jersey since
the previous stage to Gerardmer, Rasmussen attacked in the
opening five km.

The former mountain bike world champion was first
accompanied by Italian Dario Cioni and then moved clear, the
same way his team mate Pieter Weening had done the day before.

Rasmussen, 31, was first to the top of all six of the day’s
climbs including the Ballon d’Alsace, the first ever mountain
to feature on the Tour course in 1905.

The Dane, winner of a stage in the Vuelta two years ago,
collected 56 points for the climber’s classification in the
stage.

“I just went to collect points for the King of the
Mountains classification, and I just felt better and better and
it lasted all the way to the line,” Rasmussen said.

Moreau, fourth in the 2000 Tour, and Voigt chased Rasmussen
on the last two climbs but were too late to catch the leader.

In the pack, Armstrong was content with a lull in
hostilities after Friday’s constant attacks from T-Mobile
riders like Alexander Vinokourov, Andreas Kloeden and Jan
Ullrich.

Ullrich suffered a big scare when he crashed on the descent
of the first climb, the Col de la Grosse Pierre, but the 1997
Tour champion was unhurt and able to make it back to the main
pack.

The riders will be flown to Grenoble for a rest day on
Monday before tackling the Alps with a 192.5-km 10th stage to
Courchevel.




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