Pozzato wins fifth stage

Autun, July 13:

Filippo Pozzato of Italy won the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, and Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara held on to the leader’s yellow jersey for the sixth straight day.

Team Astana riders Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloeden were taken to the hospital after being injured in separate crashes during the 182.5-kilometer trek from the Burgundy town of Chablis to Autun. Vinokourov lost crucial seconds in a crash with 25 kilometers to go.

The Kazakh rider lost 1 minute, 20 seconds and fell from 12th place to 81st, trailing Cancellara by 2:10.

Kloeden fell sideways into a ditch about 73 kilometers from the end.

Other top contenders also had a rough day. Alejandro Valverde briefly stopped at the side of the road, while Carlos Sastre punctured his tire.

Benjamin Noval of the Discovery Channel team crashed in the final descent with eight kilometers to go. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays and stitches on cuts in his chin and on his right arm. Brett Lancaster of Australia dropped out of the race due to lingering back pain.

Pozzato won a sprint at the end of the course and finished in 4:39:01. Oscar Freire of Spain was second and Daniele Bennati of Italy was third.

Cancellara, the only man to wear the yellow jersey in this year’s race, leads Kloeden by 33 seconds. Pozzato is third, 35 seconds back.