Jens Voight, who now has the yellow jersey.
Jens Voigt, who now has the yellow jersey.

Rabobank’s Rasmussen Takes Stage 9

Jens Voight, who now has the yellow jersey.

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Lance Armstrong lost his grip on the yellow jersey in the ninth stage of the Tour de France Sunday, slipping into third place behind team CSC rival Jens Voigt—while Danish rider Mickael Rasmussen won the day after leading for over 100 miles.

Jens Voight, who now has the yellow jersey.

Jens Voight, who now has the yellow jersey. Jens Voigt, who now has the yellow jersey.

After over four hours of riding the Tour’s most mountainous terrain yet, and despite an early flat tire, Voigt finished third for the day— three minutes in front of Armstrong and the peloton. That moves him into the top spot, 2:18 ahead of Armstrong.

The day’s drama came from team Rabobank’s Rasmussen, who blasted out of the peloton with an attack group just three miles into the race, looking simply to collect points on the day’s early climbs.

But Rasmussen, riding mostly alone, was able to hang on for 103 grueling miles to capture the stage victory, a full six minutes and four seconds ahead of Armstrong and the fractured peloton.

There have been several early attempts to shake the peloton in previous stages, but Rasmussen’s was the first successful early attack of the Tour this year.

Rasmussen, who donned the polka-dot climber’s jersey after winning several climbs yesterday, will wear it again Tuesday as the Tour heads into the Alps after a Monday rest day. He won all five of the day’s climbs, including the first steep category one climb.

After a poor day of riding yesterday, the Discovery Channel team seemed back in top form today, leading the peloton through much of the day. Yesterday, the team had not been able to pace Armstrong on the last hill of the day.

Armstrong is now in third place overall as the Tour steers into the alpine stages he has dominated in previous years.

Team CSC’s David Zabriskie, the American who wore the yellow jersey for three days at the start of the tour, had been struggling since he crashed in the team time trial in stage 4. After another crash today, he has abandoned the race.

“My body is just not recovering the way I used to,” Zabriskie told the Outdoor Life Network. “It’s amazing how fast I was way up and way down.”