Lance Armstrong retained the overall lead in the Tour de France yesterday but lost a key teammate in a crash during the 12th stage won by France's David Moncoutie on Bastille Day.

Moncoutie became the 15th Frenchman since World War II to win on France's national holiday. It was his second stage win in five Tours.

"It's fabulous," Moncoutie said. "I'm so happy to win. It's July 14th."

Moncoutie took the lead on the Col du Corobin, the fourth of five ascents on the 116.2-mile trek from Briancon to Digne-les-Bains, and cycled alone to the finish past cheering crowds. The Cofidis team rider completed the stage in 4 hours 20 minutes 6 seconds.

Armstrong cruised in with his main rivals in a group more than 10 minutes back, but lost teammate Manuel Beltran, who crashed and dropped out of the race.

The Spanish rider, known as "Triki" by his teammates, fell on the Cote des Demoiselles-Coiffees climb, the stage's first ascent.

He got back on his bike but later quit on the advice of a Tour doctor. He was being kept overnight for observation at a hospital, although initial examinations found no serious injury.

Beltran, 34, is a specialist mountain climber and will be missed by Armstrong when the race heads into the Pyrenees tomorrow. He has been part of the American's Tour-winning team since 2003.

Armstrong's lead over second-place Mickael Rasmussen of Denmark stayed at 38 seconds, with French rider Christophe Moreau still third overall, 2:34 behind the six-time champion.

Standings and stage results, E5

-- From News Services