Posted: Saturday July 7, 2012 7:05 AM

Tour de France embarks on first mountain stage

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TOMBLAINE, France (AP) - Riders have started the seventh stage of the Tour de France, a 123-mile trek across the Vosges mountains that will end with the first of the race's three summit finishes.

The pack has been thinned by eight riders who did not start the stage, taking the number of riders knocked out in Friday's crashes to 12, including Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada and three-time world champion Oscar Freire.

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara wears the race leader's yellow jersey for the seventh consecutive day Saturday but the time trial specialist will be hard pressed to keep it as the race hits the first high mountains, ending on the Planche des Belles Filles and its steep 14 percent ramps.

 
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