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Lance happy to miss big crashes

Lance Armstrong was happy for his last Tour de France to continue injury free after several other high-profile riders went down on a first stage marred by crashes.

The seven-time Tour champion avoided the three crashes on the final two kilometres of the 223.5km stage from Rotterdam to Belgian capital Brussels.

Armstrong, who lies fourth overall, avoided danger when a group crashed just in front of him by stopping just in time to avoid a fall. His biggest rival, defending champion Alberto Contador, scraped a leg by bumping a bike in front as he braked furiously.

Armstrong leads Contador by five seconds after yesterday's stage was won by Alessandro Petacchi of Italy.

"That was total mayhem," Armstrong said. "We even had a dog running in the group in the beginning that caused a big crash with a couple of our guys."