An epic stage six of the Eneco Tour through hilly southern Holland saw young Dutch star Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) take control of the overall classification after overnight leader, Belgian Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), crashed out.
However, Dekker – injured in the same accident as Nuyens and barely able to raise his arms on the podium – has a shaky control at best on the leader?s red jersey. With Wednesday?s 29.6 kilometre time trial at Sittard-Geelen and a host of other specialists in the race against the clock breathing down his neck on gc, the Eneco Tour is far from over.
Amongst those challengers is Britain?s David Millar, now third overall behind Dekker and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse D?Epargne). Dekker?s overall advantage is a mere four seconds on Gutierrez, and Millar is at an almost equally insigniicant six.
Factor in Leif Hoste (Predictor-Lotto), another great time triallist, just 27 seconds adrift and the phrase ?everything to play for? is the only way to describe the Eneco Tour?s overall scenario just 24 hours before the final finishing line.
Hero of the day on the 177.9 kilometre stage was Spanish breakaway specialist Pablo Lastras (Caisse D?Epargne), who took off 50 kilometres from the finish in the company of CSC rider Anders Lund from a day-long break of 12.
Lastras crossed the line just a few metres ahead of Chocolade Jacques Steve Caethoven, with first-year pro. Lund – only dropped by the Spaniard seven kilometres from the finish – taking a well-deserved third.
Whilst Lastras – who already has stage wins in the Vuelta, Giro and Tour in his palmares – celebrated his first victory in over two years, the rider who gambled and lost on stage six, Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano) bemoaned his bad luck to reporters close by.
The strongest rider in the break by far, for the bulk of the stage Tjallingii had been race leader on the road. But a determined effort by Rabobank and Predictor-Lotto pegged back his move and finally the burly Dutchman had to settle for a fifth place on the stage: scant reward for so much effort.
Millar on the other hand is in a strong position prior to the final time trial, whilst his compatriot Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) turned in a solid performance on Tuesday – despite unfavourable terrain and severe toothache – to all but secure his overall lead in the points competition. The million dollar question is, can Millar do the same on general classification?
ENECO Tour 2007: Stage six: Beek – Landgraaf, 177.4km
1 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 4-15-28
2 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques
3 Anders Lund (Den) Team CSC
4 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole
5 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Skil – Shimano all st
6 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quickstep at 13sec
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile
8 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Milram
9 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quickstep
10 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team CSC
20 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile)
32 David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
62 Steve Cummings (Discovery) all st
102 Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) at 2-36
Overall after six stages
1 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 25-28-48
2 José Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 4 sec
3 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval – Prodir at 6 sec
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Predictor – Lotto at 15 sec
5 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor – Lotto at 27 sec
6 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank at 31 sec
7 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep – Innergetic at 38 sec
8 Paul Martens (Ger) Skil – Shimano at 39 sec
9 Piet Rooijakkers (Ned) Skil – Shimano at 40 sec
10 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank at st
62 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) at 11-28
86 Steve Cummings (Discovery) at 14-37
90 Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) at 16-06
Pagliarini wins Eneco’s fourth successive bunch sprint
Weylandt wins tough bunch sprint in Eneco
Cavendish moves into Points lead in Eneco
Cavendish wins stage two of Eneco Tour
Nuyens wins stage and keeps Eneco lead for Cofidis
Brits out in force at Eneco Tour