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Tour de France News for July 10, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Boonen clicks into gear

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Everything fell into place for Quick.Step-Davitamon's sprinter Tom Boonen today, with the 23 year old Belgian managing to avoid all the final kilometre carnage to win the sixth stage ahead of Stuart O'Grady and Erik Zabel. It was his first ever Tour stage win and his 14th win of the season, and with the exit of Alessandro Petacchi and Mario Cipollini this morning, he will have several more chances for glory.

"For me, this was a really great victory today," a delighted Boonen said post-stage. "My team rode very strongly and especially my teammate Stefano Zanini was really strong over the last 30km. My team director Serge Parsani told me it would be a dangerous finale and Zanini positioned me perfectly. I had no idea there was a big crash behind us because I was on Zanini's wheel. I made my move at 200m to go and it went great. I like hard sprints for power riders and this one was perfect for me today because I'm very strong."

Boonen added that despite his mechanical problems early on in the Tour, he had been confident of winning a stage. "I was telling it to the press the day before yesterday but nobody believes it," he said. "Everything happens for a reason. Two weeks before the your everything went quite alright. I could do all the sprints in the way I wanted. Today everything went like it supposed to and no-one was able to pass me."

Asked if winning a Tour stage was important, Boonen replied, "Yeah of course. Winning a stage in the Tour is one of the biggest things possible. For every sprinter here it's like a world championship. It was very hard yesterday and today. I expected Robbie to come at any moment because he is the fastest one out there right now. But then I heard he had crashed."

Stage 6 full results, report & photos
Live report
Final start list
Tour FAQ

Armstrong in two crashes

Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service)
Photo ©: CN
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Lance Armstrong (USPS-Berry Floor) didn't have a great day at the office today, being in the two main crashes that marked Stage 6. Armstrong hit the deck after 16 km of racing and again in the last kilometre, where he was tangled up in the front of a mass pile-up.

"We're comin' in to Angers and they have the barriers really tight and you got 200 guys raging through there at 40 miles an hour," said Armstrong of the final crash. "I don't know what the hell they're thinking. You're going to have crashes. We were fortunate that the crash was literally 10m inside the 1 km banner, otherwise we would have been docked half a minute...so it was bad luck and good luck."

As for the first spill, Armstrong said that, "It was a typical early race crash; everybody nervous, a lot of wind, two guys just went down in front of me and there's nothing you can do - you just hit the brakes and I went over them. It wasn't bad. I got a little bit on the arm and a little bit on the hip. (I'm stiff) on the hip. I flipped over and rolled a tire but it's fine."

Hamilton and Pereiro suffer in crash

Phonak's Tour mishaps continued today when team leader Tyler Hamilton crashed in the final kilometre, along with a large chunk of the peloton including teammates Bert Grabsch, Oscar Sevilla and Martin Elmiger. Hamilton landed on his back and suffered multiple contusions, although he didn't break any bones, while the other three were relatively unhurt.

Earlier in the stage, Oscar Pereiro crashed together with Jose Enrique Gutierrez. Pereiro was taken to hospital after the finish for examination of his injured fingers.

Flecha gets close

Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) came within 1 kilometre of winning his second ever Tour de France stage, but was swallowed by the peloton just before the final sprint in Angers. Flecha, who won the stage to Toulouse last year in a late solo breakaway, told Datasport that, "I wasn't quick enough. I tried, but the peloton was pulling strongly and caught me at the finish. In the final metres there was nothing I could do."

Alessio-Bianchi maintains the rage

After Magnus Backstedt's epic day in the saddle during stage 5, the Alessio-Bianchi team was once again on the attack in Stage 6, putting Alessandro Bertolini in the six man break that went clear after 21 km. The six worked well together until 23 km to go, when Bertolini fell off the pace after the final sprint, and was caught by the peloton.

"Our plans were very clear: we had to attack and that was just what we did," said team manager Bruno Cenghialta. "A 150 kilometre breakaway was frustrated and recaptured by the peloton. Next time will be alright. If one Quick Step rider had been in the break, the attackers would have got to the finish. In any case, it was a good breakaway. We'll be seen again soon."

Dekker wants to be first on Alpe d'Huez

Rabobank's Erik Dekker, not usually noted as a climbing specialist, has expressed an unusual ambition for this year's Tour de France. "I want to be first on the top of Alpe D'Huez," Dekker said to Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland during yesterday's stage.

Dekker explained that the idea came to him during an earlier conversation with a Dutch journalist, and went on to outline his plan to achieve this feat. Have a read of Scott's diary to find out the full details.

Medical communiqué

Crash in final kilometre:

René Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner) - Fracture of 9th, 10th, and 11th left ribs and broken nose. He will not start tomorrow.

Crash at km 8:

Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) - Cuts on both knees
José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) - Cut on left wrist
Oscar Pereiro Sio (Phonak) - Injured small finger on right hand

Crash at km 19:

Iker Camaño (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - Cuts on rigtht knee, left elbow and left hip
Filippo Simeoni (Domina Vacanze) - Cuts and pain in left knee
Christophe Edaleine (Cofidis) - Pain in right knee
Mirko Celestino (Saeco) - Left knee pain
Gerrit Glomser (Saeco) - Left knee pain
David Loosli (Saeco) - Headache
Sergio Marinangeli (Domina Vacanze) - Right knee pain
Matthew Wilson (FDJeux.com) - Cramps

Commissaire's communiqué

The crash at the finish happened within the final kilometre, allowing all riders to finish in the same time.

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) was fined 100 CHF for not signing in at the start

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