Steels expelled for thowing bottle

Cycling

Germany's Erik Zabel was disqualified and placed last after winning a rough sprint finish to the sixth stage of the Tour de France here yesterday.

The stage was awarded to Jeroen Blijlevens, who had finished second, after Zabel was stripped of the victory for what race officials described as "irregular sprinting". It was the third succesive year that the Dutchman had claimed a stage victory.

The German was placed last on the list of finishers in the 215.5km (134 miles) stage from Le Blanc, while Belgium's Tom Steels has been expelled from the Tour for violent behaviour during the sprint for the line.

Steels was seen by Tour officials to throw his water bottle at the Frenchman Frederic Moncassin.

Zabel, who won Tuesday's third stage, sprinted clear in the final straight and eased home ahead of Blijlevens and Djamolodine Abdujaparov, of Uzbekistan. Cedric Vasseur retained the yellow jersey for France. Zabel would have moved up to second place in the overall standings ahead of the Italian Mario Cipollini had he not been penalised. The 27-year-old German reportedly aimed a headbutt at Moncassin, who was disqualified from this season's Dauphine Libere for headbutting Zabel's team-mate, Rolf Aldag.

The controversial final sprint was also marked by Steels, the Belgian national champion, throwing his bottle at Moncassin after the Frenchman charged in front of him. Steels was subsequently thrown out of the Tour for "violent behaviour towards others" in the main group.

The stage saw the usual series of falls and pile-ups, which at one point left Vasseur, the first Frenchman to wear the yellow jersey since Stephane Heulot retired during the seventh stage last year, 200 yards adrift of the main group of riders. He managed to regain his ground, helped by his team-mate, Britain's Chris Boardman. "It was a dream today to see one's name painted on the road every kilometre. It was something I won't forget for the rest of my life," said Vasseur.

The 33-year-old Abdujaparov, three times winner of the green jersey, had been in a two-man breakaway with the Swiss rider Rolf Jaermann, winner of the Amstel Gold race in 1993, which built up a lead of over a minute and 40 seconds. Abdujaparov, nine-times a stage winner in the Tour de France, and Jaermann failed to take advantage of the disruption to the pack after the incident when Vasseur was left trailing. They were reeled in with 13km to go. Several teams, including Mapei, Batik and GAN, led the chase as they realised that chances for their sprinters to win a stage were running out before Monday's first mountain stage in the Pyrenees.

Pascal Lance, a time-trial specialist, had earlier broken up the leisurely pace of the pack by launching the first attack and building up a lead of 50 seconds with 60km to go. However, the 33-year-old Frenchman, eight- times a time-trial stage winner, was unable to sustain the pace on his own and was reeled in.

Cipollini was involved in the second of the pile-ups, cutting his right knee and injuring his hand. He was not a happy man after having a blazing row with his team manager, Antonio Salutini, on Thursday night about the lack of support he received earlier in the day, when he lost his yellow jersey to Vasseur.

The stage had to be diverted after demonstrators protesting over a planned nuclear dump blocked the planned route with nine tractors.

John Lichfield, page 11

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small Family Accountancy Practi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence