Ricco Wins Stage 6 of Tour; Kirchen Takes Maillot Jaune
Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval-Scott Bikes) has won Stage 6 of the 2008 Tour de France. Ricco sprinted away from the lead group in the last 250 meters to win the rugged, 195.5-km ride from Aigurande to Super-Besse in 4:57:52. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) outsprinted Cadel Evans (Silence) for second at 0:01. Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia) took the maillot Jaune from Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), who crashed in the last 300 meters.
The racing began early. At six kilometers, Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) attacked, and Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux) joined him soon after. The trio led the field by about 2:00 at 33 kilometers, 4:50 at 57 kilometers, and 5:00 at the Category 4 Cote de Bellegarde-en-Marche (70 kilometers). Gerolsteiner began to ride tempo, and the escapees’ lead began to fall.
On the Category 4 Cote de Crocq (89 kilometers), the bunch was 4:15 behind the break. At the feed zone (111 kilometers), the fugitives’ advantage was down to 3:20. A crash occurred in the feed zone, but all riders remounted and rejoined the peloton.
At the foot of the Category 2 Col de la Croix-Morand (158 kilometers), the escapees’ advantage was 2:00. Six kilometers from the summit, Chavanel and Bichot dropped Vaugrenard. With 25 kilometers left, Bichot attacked and Chavanel gave up because the bunch was only 0:30 behind them.
Caisse d’Epargne led the chase. With 13 km left, the peloton caught Bichot. Two kilometers later, a crash took down Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Erik Zabel (Milram), but both remounted quickly.
Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom) and Maxime Monfort (Cofidis) attacked. The bunch brought them back. Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) and Vladimir Efimkin (Ag2r) sortied, and David Moncoutie (Cofidis) joined them. Le Mevel and Efimkin stayed in the front and forged a small lead over the peloton.
With five kilometers left, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) and Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) caught and dropped Le Mevel and Efimkin. With about 1.5 kilometers remaining, the maillot jaune group caught Vande Velde and Piepoli on the climb to the finish.
Caisse d’Epargne led the maillot jaune group into the last kilometer. With 300 meters left, Schumacher and Kirchen touched wheels, and Schumacher crashed. Fifty meters later, Ricco bolted for the finish line. Kirchen took the jersey because the three-kilometer rule giving all riders in the same group the same time in the event of a crash does not apply on uphill finishes.
In the overall, Kirchen leads Evans by 0:06 and Schumacher by 0:16. Stage 7 will probably not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 159-km ride from Brioude to Aurillac will be ridden on twisting roads that should break up the field. Escapees should win. Who will they be? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!