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Sat, Jul.10.2004:11:21 AM

Stage 7: Chateaubriant - Saint-Brieuc

07-10-04.stage7 profile

Today was a fairly battering stage for the peloton, even though it was another sprinter's stage. As the Tour turned away from the coast and the winds shifted, CSC went into high gear and fractured the peloton, sending riders scrambling and splitting the group into two. When it became apparent that no major contender was caught in the back group, the pace finally slowed enough to the let the back group catch up, but O'Grady's and Moreau's teams were put to a lot of work pulling their riders back. Piil managed to launch another attack off the front with about 23km to go, but yet again it wasn't his day for the breakaway.

The sprinters were out gamed by a late break of seven riders on the uphill to the finish. Pozzato, reaping the benefits of his team leader Petacchi dropping out, won the game of tactics and beat the rest of the breakaway to the line.

The green jersey switched back and forth throughout the race today. McEwen temporarily took the lead on a sprint bonus, but O'Grady, lucky to make it back to the main group after the peloton split, edged out McEwen on the line to keep the lead. The yellow jersey stayed firmly on the shoulders of Voeckler.

Perhaps trying to rival his previous year's performance, Hamilton raced today nursing back injuries from yesterday's crash, including a hematoma on his spine which will certainly ache from being hunched over in the saddle all day.