MEAUX, France – Lance Armstrong survived a crash and completed the first full stage of the Tour de France on a teammate's bike Sunday, finishing in a pack behind Italy's Alessandro Petacchi.
Armstrong, trying for a record-tying fifth straight Tour title, was among the competitors who rode into the mass of riders and was thrown from their bikes in a crash entering Meaux.
The crash was caused by a rider who slipped in a turn. Other riders behind piled into the cyclist.
Armstrong completed the race on the bike of U.S. Postal teammate Jose Luis Rubiera. Armstrong held his hand to his back as he boarded the team bus after the race, but had no visible injuries.
"It is never good to crash, but it wasn't that bad," Armstrong said. "We all just fell over and got piled on top of."
Petacchi beat Australia's Robbie McEwen of Australia in a sprint to the finish over the last few hundred yards. Germany's Erik Zabel was third.
The race started from Le Reveil Matin, a restaurant in the southeastern Paris suburb of Montgeron. The first Tour started there in 1903.
The riders cycled south before turning east and then north to finish in Meaux, a town of 50,000 known for its Brie cheese and mustard. Meaux is about 25 miles east of Paris. This was the Tour's first stop in Meaux.
The 104-mile route took the riders past ripened fields of golden wheat, the lush green forest of Fontainebleau and through picturesque villages. The riders were greeted by waving fans along the route.
Before the race, the riders first gathered at the Stade de France, the stadium in northern Paris that hosted the 1998 soccer World Cup final, and paraded from there through Paris to the start at Montgeron.
On Monday, the riders cover 126.8 miles, skirting Champagne country and the cathedral town of Reims, where French kings were crowned. The leg finishes in Sedan, a town on the border with Belgium where German troops broke through during their invasion of France in 1940.