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Lance takes a tumble, Leipheimer leads the pack

LANCE Armstrong took a spill when he got tangled with a motorcycle, and still moved up a spot in the overall standings on Monday at the Tour of California after a rainy and crash-filled second stage.

Two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer became the third different race leader. He emerged from a chasing group on the final climb with about 27 kilometers left before finishing a close second to stage winner and fellow-American Thomas Peterson.

Peterson was victorious in the 186.5km Sausalito to Santa Cruz road race in 5 hours, 6 minutes and 20 seconds.

Strong wind and heavy rain hampered the field throughout most of the stage, which crossed the Golden Gate Bridge shortly after the start.

Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner making a comeback after a 3 1/2-year retirement, had his mishap about 130km into the stage.

"A motorcycle for the photographer from the race crashed right in front of me," Armstrong said. "Unfortunate, but it could have been worse. I don't feel too bad, hip is a little banged up but overall a great day. Levi proved he is the best guy in the race hands down."

Armstrong quickly received a spare bike from a team car and returned to the field with the assistance of teammate Jose Luis Rubiera of Spain. The American, who began the day in fifth place, is now fourth, 30 seconds behind. He finished 13th in the stage.

Floyd Landis, the former 2006 Tour de France champ competing for the first time following a two-year doping suspension, is 29th overall, 6:04 behind.

In addition to Armstrong's crash, a group of 15 riders also crashed during the stage. American Andy Jacques-Maynes also fell into a parked car and was rushed to the hospital with head and ankle injuries.

Leipheimer, who began the day trailing former race leader Francisco Mancebo of Spain by 1 minute and 2 seconds, now leads the race's fourth edition by 24 seconds over Michael Rogers of Australia. American David Zabriskie is third overall, trailing Leipheimer by 28 seconds.

"The weather has been nasty the last couple of days and it really changes the race," Leipheimer said. "I thought I better go because I didn't want to freeze up. I felt great, and I told (Yaroslav) Popovych 'I feel great, let's go.' I couldn't wait any longer. I had to go."


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