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Sanchez Wins Ninth Stage of Tour de France; Voeckler Takes Lead

Luis Leon Sanchez won the ninth stage of cycling’s Tour de France as Thomas Voeckler took the race lead after a second-place finish yesterday.

Thor Hushovd had held the leader’s yellow jersey for a week before the crash-filled 208-kilometer (129-mile) trip from Issoire to Saint-Flour.

France’s Voeckler of the Europcar team leads the overall competition by 1 minute, 49 seconds from Sanchez of Spain. Two-time runnerup Cadel Evans of Australia is third, 37 seconds further back.

Alexander Vinokourov abandoned the race after crashing halfway through the stage, and Jurgen van den Broeck, Frederik Willems and David Zabriskie also exited the competition after taking tumbles. Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland managed to stay in the race after a collision with an overtaking television vehicle.

Voeckler was part of a five-man breakaway involved in the incident, though avoided getting caught up in it. He was outpaced by Sanchez at the finish, Sandy Casar coming third.

Among the race favorites, Andy Schleck is 11 seconds behind Evans, with Alberto Contador, seeking a third win in four years, a minute and a half further back.

There is a rest day today, followed by a 158-kilometer stage from Aurillac to Carmaux on July 12 as the race heads toward the Pyrenees.

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