McEwen Wins Stage 9 of Tour
Robbie McEwen (Lotto) has won his second stage of this year's Tour de France. The Australian took a bunch sprint from Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) to win the rolling, 160.5-km run from St. Leonard de Noblat to Gueret in 3:32:55. Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere) remains the maillot jaune.
The stage began in the hometown of Raymond "Pou Pou" Poulidor, the "eternal second" of the Tour de France, who earned the heart of the French people for being the Tour runner-up six times. From the start, the pace was fast. At 38 km, Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) and Filippo Simeoni (Domina Vacanze) escaped. The pair ran up a ten-minute lead by 92 km.
Quick Step, Credit Agricole, and Gerolsteiner went to the front. The escapees led by 2:12 with 15 km left and by 1:25 with 10 km remaining. It appeared that the break might stay clear. Landaluze and Simeoni were positioning themselves for a sprint when the bunch engulfed them with 100 m left. McEwen pipped Hushovd for the win.
The stage, despite being short, was tough. According to Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), "It was a hard day. There wasn't one piece of flat road all day." Grief complicated Hamilton's difficulty. "My best friend, my dog, I've had him for nine years--he has cancer really bad," the man from Marblehead disclosed. "I just found out late last night. We're going to have to put him to sleep tomorrow. For me, it's a very sad day. He's like a child. I am going to see him tonight, and I'll say goodbye, and that's it. That's life."
In the overall, Voeckler leads O'Grady by 2:53 and Sandy Casar (La Francaise des Jeux.com) by 4:06. Stage 10 will be the first with major climbs. The 237-km ride from Limoges to Saint Flour will feature nine ascents, including the Category 1 Col du Pas de Peyrol. Bastille Day will begin with a Frenchman leading the race, but will it end that way? Will a Frenchman bring his compatriots joy by winning the stage? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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