Heavy downpours, treacherous
rain-slickened roads, high winds and a nasty crash
in the final dash to the finish line. It wasn't a
day to remember for American Lance Armstrong at the
Tour de France on Thursday.
The six-time champion came through
soaked but unscathed and kept his overall lead in
the three-week race's sixth stage through eastern
France, from Troyes to Nancy. "(But) it wasn't
pretty," Armstrong said.
One of the American's main challengers,
Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, shaved 19 seconds
off Armstrong's lead by dashing ahead in the closing
stages to place second. But he still trails Armstrong
by one minute two seconds overall. Lorenzo Bernucci
of Italy, a 25-year-old racing his first Tour de France,
won the stage Thursday. He kissed his wedding ring
as he crossed the line and dedicated his first victory
to his wife.
by Jim Friday