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Driver injures 4 after plowing into crowd

A man plowed his car into a crowd at the finish line after he had been stopped from meeting the Tour de France stage winner on Bastille Day. Four people were injured, one seriously, race officials said.

The driver was denied entry at an area for accredited personnel when he tried to greet French star Laurent Jalabert after his victory Saturday, officials said.

He returned to his car, then drove at high speed and smashed through several barriers into a group of people, said Patrice Clerc, president of A.S.O, which owns the Tour.

"Some people could not avoid him," Clerc said.

An unidentified woman was hospitalized with two broken legs and head trauma,organizers said. She was thrown in the air by the car and landed on her head, momentarily losing consciousness.

Two police officers were injured, one with a broken leg, and a Tour employee injured a knee.

The driver, who was not identified, was in police custody, Clerc said.

The mayhem occurred at the end of the seventh stage between Strasbourg and Colmar, near the German border.

French fans were celebrating their national holiday when the driver disrupted the finish, about 30 minutes after the riders were done, Clerc said.

Last year, a 12-year-old boy watching the race died after he was hit by a publicity caravan, prompting organizers to strengthen road safety measures.

Tens of thousands of people line the route every day. Scores of accredited vehicles drive on the route, where access is tightly controlled. Metal barriers are set up at most intersections.

Jalabert completed the 101-mile leg in 4 hours, 6 minutes, 4 seconds. Two-time defending champion Lance Armstrong was 4:28 behind but remained 15th overall. He retained a 27-second advantage against his main rival, Jan Ullrich.

Jens Voigt was second and Laurent Roux was third. Voigt, who rides for Credit Agricole, took the leader's yellow jersey from teammate Stuart O'Grady.

This was Jalabert's second stage victory of this year's Tour. He also won a stage on Bastille Day in 1995.

Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service team was reduced to eight men when Christian Vande Velde quit the race after crashing and breaking his left forearm in a slippery downhill stretch in the Vosges mountains.

He was to leave the hospital Saturday and spend the night in his team hotel in Kaysersberg, team spokeswoman Sophie Boulet said. She described Armstrong as "very unhappy" about what happened.

Vande Velde, riding in his second Tour de France, was 58th in the standings at the start of Saturday's stage. The American crashed two days ago in the team time trial.

88th Tour de France

SATURDAY, STAGE 7: A 100.91-mile leg through the Vosges mountains in France's eastern Alsace region near the German border, starting in Strasbourg and ending in Colmar.

WINNER: Laurent Jalabert, 4 hours, 6 minutes, 4 seconds.

HOW OTHERS FARED: Two-time defending champ Lance Armstrong was 35th, finishing 4:28 behind Jalabert. Germany's Jens Voigt finished second and took the leader's yellow jersey.

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