Boonen Wins Stage 6 of Tour
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has won Stage 6 of the Tour de France. The Belgian star bested Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Erik Zabel (Milram) in a bunch sprint to take the rolling, 199.5-km ride from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse in 5:20:59. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) remains the yellow jersey.
The stage was ridden under clear blue skies. Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) wasted little time beginning the hostilities. The Briton sallied off of the front at two km and led by 11:30 at 44 km. His advantage grew to 17:45, which made him the virtual yellow jersey.
CSC began to ride tempo. At 85 km, Wiggins's lead was down to 14 minutes. Fourteen km later, 8:17 separated the Cofidis man from the peloton.
With 43 km remaining, Wiggins led the field by 3:34. The peloton eased up to put off the catch as long as possible to head off the counterattacks that disrupt the sprint trains. The peloton, led by Milram, Gerolsteiner, Quick Step, and T-Mobile, reeled in the Briton with seven km left.
The sprint teams battled for control, with none of them getting it. Gerolsteiner led the field into the home stretch, but with 200 m left, Boonen found an opening and lunged into the lead. Freire and Zabel set out after the Belgian but could not get to grips with him.
In the overall, Cancellara leads Andreas Kloden (Astana) by 0:33 and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) at 0:35. Stage 7 will change the standings. The 197-km ride, the first Alpine stage, will feature the Category 1 Col de la Colombiere, the summit of which is 14 km from the finish. Cancellara will almost certainly lose his jersey, but who will take it from him? The Astana pair of Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden? In normal circumstances, they would be good bets, but both were injured in crashes in Stage 6. How about Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), who is seventh overall at 0:46? The Russian is a possibility if he does not have to work too hard for team captain Alejandro Valverde. To find out who the new yellow jersey will be, check in at www.roadcycling.com!