Freire Attacks for Stage 5 Win; Boonen Still Leads Overall

CAEN, France - Three-time world road champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) of Spain used a bold sprinting attack to claim the fifth stage and his second career Tour de France stage win Thursday.

2006 tour de france

Stage 5: Oscar Freire outsprints yellow jersey holder Tom Boonen for the win.

Freire, who finished third in the fourth stage, bolted to the front early in the sprint to win the 139.75-mile stage from Beauvais by about one bike length in five hours, 18 minutes, and 50 seconds.

Race leader Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) of Belgium was second in the stage, while Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) of Spain was third. With sprint bonus time Boonen, the reigning world titlist, now leads Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) of Australia by 13 seconds. Freire moved into a third-place tie with George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) of Greenville, S.C., trailing by 17 seconds. Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, Calif., is eighth overall, trailing by 28 seconds.

"I knew if I wanted to win today, I had to take some risks," said Freire, who's riding in the Tour de France for the third time. "I attacked in the sprint, which is something I don't normally do. Usually, I follow a teammate's wheel. But I knew what I had to do."

As the reigning world titlist, Boonen finds himself in unique company. It's rare when the leader of Tour de France also wears the rainbow jersey of the current world titlist.

The last two riders with the same designation were Greg LeMond (1990) and Frenchman Bernard Hinault (1985).

"I have had the jersey for three days and I'm not the kind of cyclist, really, who leads the Tour and so I am very proud," said Boonen. "The last guys I'm told who did it (two jersey) with Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault, and those are no little guys."

The fifth stage included the first substantial rain of the Tour, which began about 70 miles into the stage. Samuel Sumoulin (AG2R) of France and Bjorn Schroder (Milram) of Germany built nearly a 13-minute margin. But the field caught the leaders with about one mile left.

The field of 172 will ride 117 miles Friday from Lisieux to Vitre.

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