Belgium?s Tom Boonen (Quick Step) finally won a stage in the Tour de France in Bourg-en-Bresse on Friday, despite sprinting with a broken derailleur after tangling with Britain’s Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) in the final kilometre.
Boonen has been under intense pressure in Belgium after struggling in the early Tour sprints but he silences his critics with a long, powerful and aggressive sprint to win his first Tour de France stage for two years.
Immediately after his win Boonen revealed he was forced to sprint in his biggest gear of 53×11 after breaking his derailleur. He went all over the road in the fiercely contested sprint but had the legs to win by over a bike length ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Erik Zabel (Milram). Thanks to his win and other points picked up in sprints during the stage, Boonen also pulled on the green points jersey.
Britain?s Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) seemed well?placed and ready to contest the sprint with a kilometre to go after being brought near the front by a team mate, but he then tangled with Boonen and wrecked his front wheel. He had to stop to get a new wheel and eventually finished 181th. It was probably the 22 year-old Manx rider?s last chance in the Tour sprints. He is expected to quit the race either on Sunday in the Alps or just after the first rest day on Monday.
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) finished in the main peloton in the sprint and so retained his overall race lead. He is expected to spend his seventh and last day in the yellow jersey during Saturday?s first mountain stage in the Alps to Le Grand Bornand. The 16.8km climb of the Colombiere near the finish is likely to give the first indications of who is and who isn?t an overall contender this year and also show if Astana leader?s Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden have recovered after their crashes on Thursday.
HEROIC WIGGINS MAKE LONE ATTACK
Britain?s Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) was the only real breakaway of the stage, inadvertently honouring the 40th anniversary of Tom Simpson?s death on Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France. Wiggins admitted after the stage that he did not know it was the anniversary of Simpson’s death but his ride was heroic none the less.
Wiggins attacked after just two kilometres of the 199.5km stage and stayed clear until seven kilometres from the finish. He eventually finished last on the stage, 3-42 behind Boonen, but deserved the most aggressive rider prize for the stage and huge respect for his courageous ride.
Highlights video to follow.
TOUR DE FRANCE: STAGE SIX RESULTS
1 BOONEN Tom (Quick Step)
2 FREIRE Oscar (Rabobank)
3 ZABEL Erik (Milram)
4 CHAVANEL Sebastien (Cofidis)
5 HUSHOVD Thor (Credit Agricole)
6 BENNATI Daniele (Lampre)
7 FORSTER Robert (Gerolsteiner)
8 HUNTER Robert (Barloworld)
9 FEILLU Romain (Agritubel)
10 FISCHER Murilo (Liquigas) all at same time
15 THOMAS Geraint (Barloworld)
125 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval)
132 WEGELIUS Charly (Liquigas)
181 CAVENDISH Mark (T-Mobile) all st
183 WIGGINS Bradley (Cofidis) at 3-42
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX
1 CANCELLARA Fabian (CSC) in 29-49-55
2 KLODEN Andreas (Astana) at 33 secs
3 POZZATO Filippo (Liquigas) at 35 secs
4 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval) at 41 secs
5 FREIRE Oscar (Rabobank) at 43 secs
6 HINCAPIE George (Discovery Channel) at 43 secs
7 GUSEV Vladimir (Discovery Channel) at 45 secs
8 KARPETS Vladimir (Caisse d’Epargne) at 46 secs
9 ZABEL Erik (Milram) at 48 secs
10 ASTARLOZA Mikel (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 49 secs
143 WIGGINS Bradley (Cofidis) at 9-04
154 THOMAS Geraint (Barloworld) at 12-22
159 WEGELIUS Charly (Liquigas) at 12-31
182 CAVENDISH Mark (T-Mobile) at 22-29
1 BOONEN Tom (Quick Step) 141 points
2 ZABEL Erik (Milram) 130
3 FREIRE Oscar (Rabobank) 114