Guido Bontempi of Italy won the seventh stage of the Tour de France yesterday in Troyes in 5 hours 8 minutes 17 seconds. Switzerland's Erich Maechler kept the overall lead.

The pack of cyclists finished the 131-mile stage from Epinal to Troyes together, leaving the overall classifications practically unchanged.

In the first sprint finish of this 74th Tour de France, Bontempi, of the Carrera team, outpaced Manuel Jorge Dominguez of Spain. Dominguez placed second and Jean-Paul Van Poppel of Holland was third. Each had the same time.

Maechler, of the Carrera team, retained the yellow jersey with an overall time of 22:19:06, 36 seconds ahead of Chistophe Lavainne of France. Switzerland's Joerg Mueller is third, 44 seconds off the lead.

Tour favorite Stephen Roche, another Carrera team member, remains 5:41 behind. American Andy Hampsten, who won the Tour of Switzerland, was 66th at 7:22 off the pace.

"I wanted to win a stage of the Tour de France and, for me, it's better to try it before we reach the mountains," said Bontempi, a sprint specialist who won three stages in last year's Tour. "Stephen Roche worked for me up to the last kilometer and then I took care of the rest myself. {Sean} Kelly says I bumped him with my shoulder, but that's an old story among sprinters."

The pack continued the fast pace established on the first stage last Thursday, with numerous breakaway attempts on the mainly flat stage through east France.

The Superconlez and Z teams did most of the work at the front of the pack trying to set up their sprinters for the finish, which gave the Carrera riders a break.

Carrera worked in the sixth stage to keep Maechler in the yellow leader's jersey after Lavainne and Raul Alcala of Mexico escaped and won the stage.

"It's bizarre," Roche said. "Yesterday, we worked really hard and didn't win and today we took it easy and won the stage."

Two more riders quit -- Lech Piasecki of Poland, who held the overall lead for a day last week, and Javier Murguialday of Spain, a Kas teammate of Kelly's. That left the field at 197 riders from an original 207.

U.S. Cycling Federation:

Clark Sheehan of Englewood, Colo., and Jessica Hawkins of Wales, Mass., were crowned junior national champions in individual time trials at the Rocky Mountain News Bicycle Classic in Franktown, Colo. The event runs through July 16.

Sheehan won the junior men's race in the 16-17 age bracket by finishing the hilly course in 27:51. Jonn Cotton of Boulder, Colo., took second in 27:52.

Hawkins won the 16-17 age group in 33:13.

The races were concluded minutes before a tornado touched down a few miles from the race site south of Denver.