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2 Tour riders hurt in suspected air-rifle shooting

July 18th, 2009, 03:07 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

COLMAR, France — Two Tour de France cyclists were slightly injured Friday in what their teams suspect was an air-rifle shooting.

New Zealand’s Julian Dean and Spain’s Oscar Freire, a three-time former world champion, were struck while riding in northeast France during the 13th stage.

Dean’s right index finger was injured. Freire’s team said he was hit in the thigh with a projectile that was removed. Both were expected to ride Saturday.

It was not immediately certain what weapon was used. But both teams – Dean’s Garmin Slipstream and Freire’s Rabobank – believe it was an air rifle.

“He (Dean) was very lucky,” Garmin spokeswoman Marya Pongrace said by telephone. “He is a little shaken up.”

Rabobank said in a statement the doctor told the team the injury to Freire “will not bother him too much.”

Police were investigating, and Dean was to be interviewed at his hotel in Colmar later Friday. Rabobank said it intended to file a complaint.

The riders were hit during the descent of the demanding Col du Platzerwasel, about 22 miles from the finish of the stage between Vittel and Colmar, Rabobank said.


Associated Press Writer Greg Keller contributed to this report.

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