Freire Wins Second Stage of '06 Tour
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has won his second stage of this year?s Tour de France.
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has won his second stage of this year?s Tour de France. Freire took a bunch sprint from Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) to win the flat, 170-km run from Bordeaux to Dax in 3:35:24. Erik Zabel (Milram) overtook Tom Boonen (Quick Step) for third, and Sergei Gonchar (T-Mobile) remains the maillot jaune .<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The stage was ridden in warm, sunny conditions. After a series of abortive attacks, Christian Knees (Milram), Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom), and Stephane Auge (Cofidis) escaped at 16 km. At 61 km, the trio?s lead topped out at 7:55. Then, T-Mobile, Credit Agricole, Quick Step, and Lampre began to chase.
In the break, cooperation was poor. Auge and Beneteau soft pedaled, and Knees tried to drop them. With 17 km remaining, the bunch, which was led by Quick Step, Davitamon, Lampre, Credit Agricole, Rabobank, and Francaise des Jeux, was with 1:40 of the break.
With six km left, Knees attacked and only Beneteau could follow the German. Auge clawed his way back to the leaders. With five km left, Beneteau attacked but was reeled in. The efforts were for naught because the peloton engulfed the break with four km left.
With 1.5 km left, Stuart O?Grady (CSC) attacked. Quick Step rode down the Aussie and led the field into the last km. Liquigas, Credit Agricole, Rabobank, and Davitamon were at or near the front. Boonen struck first along the right-hand barriers, but Freire attacked down the center of the road with 100 m left. McEwen had the Spaniard?s wheel and came around on the left, but Freire beat him with a bike throw.
In the overall, Gonchar leads Floyd Landis (Phonak) by 1:00 and Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) by 1:08. Stage 10 could change the standings. The 190.5-km ride from Cambo-les-Bains to Pau will be the first Pyrenean stage of this year?s Tour. The stage will feature the hors categorie Col du Soulet at 105 km and the Category 1 Col de Marie Blanque at 148 km. The climbs will break up the field, and 40 to 50 riders should trail a small group of no-hope escapees to the finish line. Who will be in the second group? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!