Saturday, July 14, 2007

Boonen Back on Top

Tom Boonen won yesterday's stage 6 of the Tour de France in a bunch sprint ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Erik Zabel (Milram).  Boonen took the victory despite breaking his rear derailer when Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) crashed into his rear wheel with a kilometer to go.  Unable to change gears, he nevertheless summoned the power to surge ahead of the other riders and win his first stage victory of this year's Tour.  In addition, Boonen managed to reclaim the green jersey from Zabel and now leads that competition by 11 points.

The stage was a bit odd as the peloton averaged a slow 37km/h.  The day's main breakaway consisted of only one rider, Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis), who attacked after the 2nd kilometer.  There was never any doubt that he would be recaptured, either, as the peloton was within 1 minute of him with 30km to go.  Still, even when they did eventually recapture him in the final 7km, the peloton didn't turn up the full gas.  As a result, the sprint was a bit of a free-for-all as no one team organized the final approach.  Boonen, though, broken bike and all, would not be denied.

Fabian Cancellara maintained his overall lead on a fairly easy day for him.  Today will probably be his last day in yellow, however, as the roads kick uphill.  Alexandre Vinokourov, meanwhile, managed to get through the stage despite his many injuries.  At one point, though, he made a motion to the television cameras of cutting his throat, indicating that he was not feeling particularly good.  Today's stage will demonstrate more clearly just how much he has been affected by the crash from two days ago.


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