SAINT-BRIEUC, France (AP) -- Lance Armstrong finished in a pack of riders behind Italy's Filippo Pozzato in the seventh stage of the Tour de France on
Armstrong, trying for a record sixth consecutive Tour victory, has been ceding stage victories 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 -- just ahead of Spanish riders Iker Flores of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Francisco Mancebo of Illes Balears-B. Santander.
"It's the most beautiful win of my career," said Pozzato, a 22-year-old riding in his first Tour. "It's a very nice win after a hard finish."
Armstrong remained in sixth place, 9 minutes, 35 seconds behind overall leader Thomas Voeckler of France, 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, 10 seconds behind. He is in 22nd place, 10:30 behind
Cyclists ran into all sorts of fan hazards in the last 6.2 miles, including smoky flares and crowds spilling into the streets as the riders roared by.
Many riders were hoping for relief in the seventh stage after a first week filled with crashes -- including one that brought down Armstrong on Friday.
Earlier Saturday, the Tour announced Belgian rider Christophe Brandt tested positive for a heroin substitute and withdrew from the race.