Withstanding rain-doused roads and high wind, Australia's Stuart O'Grady of Cofidis won the Tour's fifth stage with a sprint finish ahead of Voeckler and three other riders who broke early from the main pack and held on.
O'Grady thrust his arms in the air after winning a Tour de France (search) stage for the second time in his career. Denmark's Jakob Piil was second and France's Sandy Casar was third. Voeckler, the French champion, was fourth.
At one point, the five-rider group built a lead as large as 17 minutes ahead of the pack on the 124.6-mile stage from Amiens to Chartres.
Mishaps — tire punctures, derailed chains and spills on rain-soaked roads — marred much of the course through bucolic wheat fields and rolling hills northwest of Paris.
Armstrong, seeking a record sixth straight Tour victory, captured the overall leader's yellow jersey a day earlier, thanks in part to a first-place performance in the team time trial by his U.S. Postal Service squad.
But controlling the race lead so early brings pressures along with honors — and Armstrong's coach said the 32-year-old Texan was willing to give up the yellow jersey temporarily and focus on bigger threats.
"We can't kill the team for a breakaway by five people who aren't a threat in the overall classification," Postal sporting director Johan Bruyneel said. "I'm comfortable with the situation."