Moncoutie Wins Stage 11; Armstrong Alleges Plot by French TV Crew

France's David Moncoutie (Cofidis) took Stage 11 of the 2004 Tour de France Thursday after attacking with about six miles to go in the race, edging out Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) and Egoitz Martinez (Euskaltel Euskadi).

Moncoutie wins the Tour's second mountain stage

Moncoutie wins the Tour's second mountain stage

The 103-mile course from Saint-Flour to Figeac was the second stage in the mountains and proved to be the hottest day of the Tour yet, dropping riders from the peloton and narrowing the field of contenders for the Tour title. However, the big names all are still in the race.

Flecha and Martinez took second and third place respectively, coming in about a minute and a half after Moncoutie. Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) and Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) rounded out the top five. French National Champion Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere) finished 14th on the day, good enough to keep him in the yellow jersey yet again.

After a number of failed attacks and counter attacks, Moncoutie, Martinez, and Flecha were able to get free of the peloton and build a one-minute lead about 38 miles into the race. The three were able to build up a maximum lead of eight minutes over the rest of the field.

With about six miles left in the race, Flecha attacked his fellow leaders, but was soon caught. A strong counter-attack by Moncoutie had enough juice to propel him past Martinez and Flecha, giving the Frenchman enough of a berth for the win.

Flecha rolled across the finish line about a minute and a half after Moncoutie, followed closely by Martinez. The rest of the peloton followed, each rider jockeying for a sprint position to the finish line.

The overall standings did not change today. Lance Armstrong placed ninth on the day, and still currently stands at sixth in the general classification.

In related news, the five-time Tour champion said today that he believes a French television crew attempted to get access to his room after he left to compete in Stage 11.

"Just this morning, after we left, a TV crew from France 3 was going to the hotel, the reception, to the owner, asking for our room, trying to get in our room," Armstrong told reporters.

He called such behavior "scandalous" and said he was scared that products could be planted to make him look guilty.

"They show up and they ask sporting questions to our face, but as soon as they leave they're digging in the rooms and looking for dirt," Armstrong said. "If you left a B vitamin sitting there, that would get on TV and that would be a scandal. That's what we have to live with every day."

"This particular guy from France 3 has been following us for months and it's scandalous," he said. "The scary thing is, if they don't find anything and get frustrated after a couple of months ... well, who's to say they won't put something there and say 'look what we've found."'

Tomorrow, the Tour takes its riders 123 miles through the mountains from Castelsarrasin to La Mongie.

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Lead Photo: Beth Schneider
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