MARENNES, France (AP) - Joeren Blijlevens was declared the winner of the sixth stage of the Tour de France today after organizers took away Erik Zabel's apparent victory and placed him last.
Tour director Jean-Francois Pesheux said the decision was made after jury commissioners watched a tape of the stage. No reason was immediately given for the decision, although such actions usually are the result of irregular riding at the end of the stage.
Cedric Vasseur of France held onto the leader's yellow jersey.
Finishing immediately behind Blijlevens of the Netherlands were Djamolidin Abdoujaparov of Uzbekistan and Mario Transveroni of Italy.
It was another flat stage dominated by the sprinters in a mass finish. Zabel, who is from Germany, won the third stage on Tuesday, and has been high in the placings nearly every day. Before today he had a first, a second, third, fourth and 13th.
The sixth stage was 134.2 miles from Le Blanc to Marennes, a port town on the west coast. In two more days the race will enter the Pyrenees when the more demanding stages start.
There was another group fall with about 15.5 miles left. It broke the pack into three groups, but there were no major injuries.
The route had to take a detour when a group of protesters against nuclear waste passing through their area blocked the road. Organizers diverted the riders at the 48th mile to go around the demonstration before getting back on the main line without further trouble.
On Thursday, Vasseur equaled his father Alain by winning a stage of the Tour de France. The older Vasseur won a stage in 1970.
Vasseur managed a long solo breakaway and held onto his lead to gain his victory.