Armstrong keeps his lead but loses teammate in crash

Friday, July 15, 2005

DIGNE-LES-BAINS, France -- Lance Armstrong retained the overall lead but lost a key teammate in a crash as the Tour de France headed out of the Alps following David Moncoutie's victory in Thursday's 12th stage.

Moncoutie became the 15th Frenchman since World War II to win on Bastille Day, France's national holiday. It was his second stage win in five Tours.

"It's fabulous," Moncoutie said. "I'm so happy to win. It's July 14th."

Moncoutie took the lead on the Col du Corobin, the fourth of five ascents on the 116.2-mile trek from Briancon to Digne-les-Bains, and cycled alone to the finish past cheering crowds.

Armstrong, going for his seventh straight Tour victory, cruised in with his main rivals in a group more than 10 minutes back but lost teammate Manuel Beltran, who crashed and abandoned the race.

The Spanish rider fell on the Col des Demoiselles Coiffees climb early in the stage.

He got back on his bike but quit after receiving treatment from a Tour doctor, Discovery Channel team spokesman Jogi Muller said.

Beltran is a specialist mountain climber and will be missed by Armstrong when the race heads into the Pyrenees on Saturday. He has been part of Armstrong's Tour-winning team since 2003.

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