Armstrong content to stay in peloton in early stages of race

Sunday, July 11, 2004

SAINT-BRIEUC, France -- Lance Armstrong finished in a pack of riders behind Italy's Filippo Pozzato in the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Saturday and remained in sixth place overall after the first week of cycling's premier race.

Armstrong, trying for a record sixth straight Tour victory, finished the stage 55th, 10 seconds behind the winner. He has been ceding stage wins to lesser-known rivals and sprinters early in the three-week race, waiting for harder stages to make his push to the front.

Pozzato, of the Fasso Bartolo team, led a three-man breakaway and finished the 127.08-mile leg from Chateaubriant to Saint-Brieuc in 4 hours, 31 minutes and 34 seconds.

Armstrong is 9 minutes, 35 seconds behind overall leader Thomas Voeckler, who crossed the line in the peloton with the 32-year-old Texan and retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour champion and Armstrong's chief rival, placed 30th in the stage. He is in 22nd place overall, 10:30 back.

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