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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cycling: Sanchez wins 1st stage; Armstrong in main pack

Associated Press Writer

VARADES, France Luis Leon Sanchez of Spain won the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe on Tuesday, and Lance Armstrong finished in the pack before heading to a doping test.

Sanchez, riding for Caisse d'Epargne, made his move near the end of the 114-mile ride from Sable-sur-Sarthe to Varades. He finished in 4 hours, 9 minutes, 5 seconds. Marko Kump of Slovenia trailed and Anthony Ravard of France was third.

Armstrong, who finished 24th, was selected for a random doping test after the stage and didn't speak to reporters at the drug test trailer or at his Team RadioShack bus.

Sanchez has a 4-second lead over Kump in second and Trofimov in third overall. Armstrong is 29th, 10 seconds back.

The Texan did comment on his Twitter page.

"St(age) 1 of Sarthe done. Fast stage. Took 120 (kilometers) before breakaway finally went," Armstrong wrote. "Nuts. Good racing tho."

The American also wrote that six of his eight teammates who rode Sunday in the Tour of Flanders were "down and out (with) a stomach bug."

RadioShack rider Sam Bewley of New Zealand dropped out of the race, and team officials said he felt ill.

Riders passed through the winemaking village of Bonnezeaux, by the late 18th-century Pinsonnerie windmill and over the Loire River, known for castles along its banks.

Armstrong is using the four-day race as part of his preparations for the Tour de France in July, where he will be vying for a record eighth win in cycling's premier event.

The 4.2-mile time trial is Wednesday.