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Traversoni wins another controversial stage of Tour de France

July 25, 1997

DIJON, France (AP) _ Mario Traversoni was awarded the victory Friday after another stage of the Tour de France ended in a controversial sprint and the disqualification of the top two riders.

It was the third time in 19 stages that an apparent winner had the victory taken from him.

Jan Ullrich of Germany stayed in the overall lead with only two days left.

He had a 6-minute, 22-second lead over Richard Virenque. Third was Marco Pantani of Italy, more than 10 minutes behind Ullrich.

Ullrich could gain a few more minutes. There is another time trial coming up on Saturday at Disneyland Paris, the day before the Tour ends on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

In Friday’s stage from Montebeliard to Dijon, Bart Voskamp of Netherlands and Jan Heppner of Germany interfered with each other in the final sprint and were disqualified from the victory.

Voskamp went off line to force Heppner to the side. Then, just before the finish, Heppner then moved into Voskamp and nearly fell but was saved only by leaning on Voskamp.

``Both committed a fault. They were declassified together,″ said Louis Wermelinger, president of the racing jury that ruled on the interference between Voskamp and Heppner.

Traversoni won the sprint originally for third place. Then, after nearly 35 minutes after the stage ended, he was declared the winner.

``I thought I was sprinting for third place,″ Traversoni said when he finished just ahead of a group.

Voskamp and Heppner were dropped to 10th and 11th places.

Earlier in the Tour, Germany’s Erik Zabel lost a stage victory two weeks ago and Ukraine’s Sergei Outschakov was moved from third to first in another interference call in the 11th stage.

The Telekom team director was angry at another victory overturned.

Ullrich finished in the pack along with the other favorites. The main pack was more than 17 minutes behind.

Last year Ullrich first made his presence known on the Tour when he won the final time trial and solidified second place behind Bjarne Riis of Denmark.

This year, Riis is seventh, more than 18 minutes behind Ullrich.

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