Erik Zabel of Germany finished ahead of the pack for the second straight stage in the Tour de France on Saturday. However, this time it will count.
A day after being disqualified and dropped to last, Zabel won the seventh stage with a perfect sprint in another mass finish.
Cedric Vasseur stayed in the overall lead, but Zabel closed to within 1 minute, 49 seconds with bonus seconds.
Zabel wanted to show that he was not the only one at fault in the previous day’s sprint.
“Yesterday, I accepted the decision of the jury,” Zabel said. “But the jury wanted to make an example of me because no other rider made an official protest. I bumped with (Mario) Cipollini but he realized that the faults were shared 50-50.”
Zabel will not have to worry about Cipollini anymore in this race.
The Italian, who won the first two stages and was the overall leader for four days, quit less than halfway through Saturday’s 120-1/2-mile leg from Marennes to Bordeaux. He hurt a knee in one of the spills Friday.
Cipollini was expected to drop out before the tour hits the mountains, as he had done before in the Tour de France. One of the best sprinters, he does not like to cycle in the mountains.
Ivan Gotti, winner of the Tour of Italy this year, did not even start the seventh stage. He bowed out of the race because of a sprained neck.
Cipollini and Gotti joined Tony Rominger, Alex Zuelle and Yevgeny Berzin on the sidelines after the first week of the Tour that ends in Paris July 27. Rominger and Berzin broke collarbones in falls.
In Saturday’s stage, Estonia’s Jaan Kirsipuu was second ahead of the Netherlands’ Jeroen Blijlevens, who was credited with the victory Friday after Zabel was dropped to last.
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