Boonen Wins Stage 6 of Tour
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has won Stage 6 of the Tour de France.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has won Stage 6 of the Tour de France. The Belgian wunderkind outsprinted Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) and Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) to take the flat, 196-km run from Bonneval to Angers in 4:33:41. Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere) remains the maillot jaune.
The stage began without Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), who abandoned because of injuries suffered in crashes in Stages 3 and 5, respectively. For once, rain did not greet the riders. The weather was overcast and windy. The lack of rain, however, did not prevent the riders from crashing. At 16 km, a crash took down Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) and others and gave him a skinned right leg and arm. After exchanging front wheels with teammate Benjamin Nozal, the five-time defending champion set out after the peloton.
At 21 km, Carlos DaCruz (La Francaise des Jeux.com), Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio), and Marc Lotz (Rabobank) attacked. Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), and Jimmy Engoulvent (Cofidis) joined the trio, and the sextet forged a four-minute lead. Brioches La Boulangere rode tempo to keep the break close.
With about 65 km remaining, Quick Step, Lotto, Ag2r, and Gerolsteiner added muscle to the pursuit. Within 20 km, the break's lead had dropped to 2:30. At 168 km, Engoulvent attacked his companions and dropped Bertolini and Arvesen. The peloton was at 1:40.
With six km left and the peloton at 0:20, Flecha dropped his companions with a solo move. For a time, the Spaniard looked like he might hang on for the win, but he cracked in the last two km. The peloton reeled him in at the one-km banner.
Just inside of the banner, a crash occurred. Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) went over his handlebars and bruised his back. Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner) broke his nose and three ribs. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) suffered road rash and the loss of his green jersey, and Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) went down for the second time in three days. Armstrong was caught in the crash but did not go down. Ahead of the mayhem, Boonen came around Sergio Marinangeli (Domina Vacanze) in the last 300 m to win.
Because the crash occurred in the last km, no one who was with the main group at that point lost time. Hamilton thought of this as he recovered from the crash. "I knew that we were in the last km and that I wouldn't lose any time," he said. Thinking of his Stage 1 crash in last year's Tour, the man from Marblehead added, "I laid on the ground for a minute and made sure that everything was okay before I got back on my bike." Fortunately for him, everything was okay.
In the overall, Voeckler leads O'Grady by 3:01 and Sandy Casar (La Francaise des Jeux.com) by 4:06. Stage 7 will probably not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 204.5-km run from Chateaubriant to St. Brieuc features three categorized climbs, including the Category 4 Cote de Langueux six km from the finish. Will the field stay together for a bunch finish, or will one or