CHALONS SUR MARNE, France — Johan Museeuw of Belgium replaced teammate Mario Cipollini of Italy as the overall leader in the Tour de France on Saturday with a third-place finish in the seventh stage.
Bjarne Riis of Denmark won the stage with a final sprint among a group of seven that had broken away early in the 124-mile section from Peronne to Chalons Sur Marnes in northeast France. He was timed in 4 hours 28 minutes 11 seconds. Maximilian Sciandri of Italy finished second, followed by Museeuw, both in the same time as the winner.
Cipollini, who, along with Museeuw, rides for GB-MG, finished 10th, 2:29 back.
In the overall standings, Museeuw has a 39-second lead over Alvaro Mejia of Colombia, who finished fourth Saturday.
"It's the most emotional event in my career," Museeuw said. "I have won three stages in the Tour, but a person doesn't take the yellow jersey often."
Riis was third overall, 1:11 behind, with Cipollini fourth, 1:21 back.
Riis, Sciandri, Mejia, Museeuw, Phil Anderson of Australia, Bruno Cenghialta of Italy and Leonardo Sierra of Venezuela were in a group that escaped from the main pack midway through the stage.
Mejia, Anderson and Sciandri are all members of the American-based Motorola team and did some fine teamwork in keeping the group ahead of the main pack.
Cenghialta fell nearly 200 yards from the finish and ended up carrying his cycle across the line to still wind up seventh, although he was given the same time as fifth-place finisher Sierra, three seconds behind.
Spain's Miguel Indurain, the favorite for the overall title, was 27th overall, 3:17 back. However, he lost no time to his major rivals, Giani Bugno and Claudi Chiacppucci of Italy.
"Everybody is thinking already of the time trial," Indurain said.
Although sprinters have dominated the Tour so far, they are expected to fade quickly when the Tour reaches the mountains.
Indurain will have his chance in the individual time trial Monday at Lac de Madine in eastern France, a 37-mile effort for each cyclist.