Pozzato wins fifth stage of Tour
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
AUTUN, France ” Filippo Pozzato of Italy won the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, and Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara held on to the leader’s yellow jersey for the sixth straight day.
Team Astana riders Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloeden were taken to the hospital after being injured in separate crashes during the 113-mile trek from the Burgundy town of Chablis to Autun.
“I am more worried about Kloeden, who seems to have a fracture of the coccyx,” Astana sporting director Marc Biver said of the rider who finished third last year and second to Armstrong in 2004.
Vinokourov, however, lost crucial seconds, plummeting from 12th place overall to 81st after a crash with 15 miles to go.
“I don’t know (what happened),” he said. “My chain came off.”
With cuts on both knees and on his right buttock, Vinokourov tried to catch up to the main pack under an escort from six Astana teammates, but the peloton sped ahead to exploit his delay.
“I’m sorry, because when I knew that Vinokourov had fallen, I was tempted to ask my team to slow down and wait for him,” Pozzato said. “Maybe there is less respect for the big riders than there once was.
“When I started in cycling there was a very clear hierarchy, and I was afraid to get too close to (Lance) Armstrong. … I always stayed 3 meters back and never got too close. Maybe there’s no more of that.”
Pozzato won a sprint at the end of the course and finished in 4:39:01 for his second Tour stage win. Oscar Freire of Spain was second, and Daniele Bennati of Italy was third.
Cancellara, the only man to wear the yellow jersey in this year’s race, leads Kloeden by 33 seconds. Pozzato is third, 35 seconds back. Vinokourov, third in the 2003 Tour, is 2 minutes, 10 seconds back after losing 1:20 during Thursday’s stage.
Other top contenders also had a rough day. Alejandro Valverde briefly stopped at the side of the road before continuing, and Carlos Sastre punctured a tire.
Benjamin Noval of the Discovery Channel team crashed in the final descent with 4.8 miles to go. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays and stitches on cuts on his chin and right arm, a Tour medical press release said.
Brett Lancaster of Australia dropped out of the race due to lingering back pain.
Riders set off for another mostly flat stage Friday, a 124-mile course from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse, before embarking Saturday on three grueling days in the Alps.
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