Alexandre Vinokourov 2007

Astana team leader?s Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden both started stage six of the Tour de France from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse on Friday despite suffering nasty injuries during Thursday?s stage.

Vino lost 1-20 to his main rivals when his chain jumped 25km from the end of the hilly stage. He had 15 stitches in his right knees on Thursday night, only getting to his hotel after midnight, but was determined to continue in what he has always described as his last chance to win the Tour de France.

Speaking on television, Vino said he was going to battle on in the Tour despite his injuries.

"I must continue, I haven't broken anything," he said, explaining how the crash happened and why he lost time.

"I think my chain jumped, and as a result I lost my balance. If the finale of the stage had been flat there would have been no problem."

Kloden landed on his coccyx bone at the bottom of his back and was diagnosed with a hairline fracture. After some extra massage and painkillers last night, he was also determined to continue in the Tour.

?Believe it or not I don?t feel too bad,? Kloden said before the start of the stage.

?It was very sore last night but after a massage and sleeping in a comfortable position I feel better. Some of my lower back muscles are hurting but I?ll find out what it?s really like during the stage.?

In other bad news for the Astana team, Matthias Kessler has received confirmation that his ?B? sample taken in April has tested positive for a high dose of testosterone.

In a press release the Astana team announced that the classics rider and 2006 Tour de France stage winner had been immediately sacked. Kessler will soon face a disciplinary hearing and is expected to get a two-year ban for doping.

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