Woman dies in accident as Ivanov wins 14th stage

BESACON: The Tour de France was marred by the death of a spectator on Saturday as Russian Serguei Ivanov won the 14th stage, a 199-km ride from Colmar.

A woman was hit by a motorcycle involved with the race when she crossed the road near the town of Wittelsheim, 38.5 km into the stage, and died almost instantly, according to a gendarmerie officer. Two other people were injured when they were hit by the motorcycle but their lives were not in danger, officials said.

It was the first fatal accident on the Tour since a child died in 2002 after

being hit by a car from

the publicity caravan. The accident happened shortly after a 12-man breakaway, featuring American George Hincapie, went past the crowd.

The group built up an advantage of eight minutes 40 seconds as the Astana team set up a leisurely pace in front of the pack. The AG2r-La Mondiale team, defending Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini’s yellow jersey, started to work some 50 km from the finish and were able to keep him in the overall lead.

Nocentini now leads Hincapie by five seconds with Spain’s Alberto Contador in third place, also six seconds off the pace. Seven-times champion Lance Armstrong slipped to fourth, eight seconds adrift of Nocentini, but the positions are expected to be upset by Sunday’s first Alpine stage to the Swiss ski resort of Verbier.

Ivanov attacked the breakaway group with just over 10 km remaining and never looked back, beating Ireland’s Nicolas Roche and New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston, second and third respectively, by 16 seconds. Spain’s Oscar Freire and Julian Dean

of New Zealand started

the stage after they were shot and slightly injured during Friday’s ride. Police investigating the incident said they were hunting two teenagers.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Mark Cavendish has been disqualified from the 14th stage after his sprint rival Thor Hushovd lodged an official complaint on Saturday. The Norwegian, who is duelling with Cavendish for the race’s green jersey for the points competition, accused Columbia rider Cavendish of trying to barge him into the barriers.

Race officials later disqualified Cavendish, the winner of four stages on the race so far, for the infringement. The decision meant Hushovd reinforced his lead in the points competition.