Freire Wins Second Straight Stage of Vuelta
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has won his second consecutive stage of this year's Vuelta and his third overall. The three-time world champion bested Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel) and Angelo Furlan (Credit Agricole) to win Stage 6, a flattish, 184.3-km run from Reinosa to Logrono, in 4:24:10. Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) remains the overall leader.
Jose Antonio Lopez (Andalucia), Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), and Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r) formed the break of the day. At two km, Lopez attacked, and Backstedt and Krivtsov joined him. Stephane Auge (Cofidis) joined the trio at 18 km, and the quartet forged an 8:40 lead by 37 km.
The peloton rode tempo and pegged the escapees' lead in the 6:00-6:30 range. At about 130 km, the wind caused the bunch to split into echelons. The first echelon, which the sprinters' teams led, began to make up time on the leaders. At 121 km, the break led the bunch by 3:45. Twenty-eight km later, the gap was down to 2:54.
At 170 km, Lopez was dropped. With 13 km left, the peloton was within 1:08 of the escapees. Five km later, Backstedt attacked his companions, but the bunch reeled in the break with seven km remaining.
Milram took over at the front. With 700 m left, Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) bolted into the lead, but Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) and Freire set out in pursuit. The bunch engulfed the Australian. Freire jumped Petacchi and easily held off Fernandez and Furlan.
In the overall, Efimkin leads Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) by 1:06. Stage 7 will be another stage for the sprinters. The rolling, 176.3-km ride from Calahorra to Zaragoza runs downhill for most of its second half. That will allow the field to catch any escapees. Who will win the resulting bunch sprint? Can anyone stop Oscar Freire? Check in www.roadcycling.com and find out!