SAINT QUENTIN, France Another day, another win for Australian Robbie McEwen.
Australian Robbie McEwen celebrates his Stage 4 victory, his second in the 2006 Tour de France and the tenth Tour win of his career.
McEwen, the Davitamon-Lotto veteran, became the race's first double stage winner Wednesday with a convincing sprint victory in the 128.6-mile Stage 4 in four hours, 59 minutes, and 50 seconds. McEwen, who also won the second stage of this year's Tour de France, recorded the tenth win of his Tour career, while averaging 25.73 mph.
There was a 33-foot gap between McEwen and runner-up Isaac Galvez (Caisse-D'Espargne) of Spain, while former world-titlist Oscar Freire (Rabobank), also of Spain, took third. The sprint finish meant there was little change in the overall standings.
Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) of Belgium, the current world road titlist, holds a one-second lead over Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) of Australia. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) of Greenville, South Carolina, is third overall, trailing by five seconds.
Floyd Landis (Phonak), the only other U.S. rider in the top ten, placed ninth and is 16 seconds out of the lead.
"I knew when I looked in the [stage] book, it was an ideal stage for me," said McEwen, who dedicated the win to Emeryville, California-based teammate Fred Rodriguez, who crashed out of the race in the third stage. "There's a slight grade, about 3 percent, and I've been focusing on the stage since I first looked at it last Wednesday."
The stage featured one Category 3 and one Category 4 climb. A group of five riders built as much as a 4:55 margin after about 55 miles. But beginning after the first feedzone a few miles later, the peloton steadily brought the leaders back.
Chris Horner of Bend, Oregon, one of seven Americans left in the race, lost more than eight minutes after crashing in Stage 3. He had an early diagnosis of a broken finger and other ailments. But a team physician relocated Horner's finger and the Davitamon-Lotto veteran finished 36th in the main field.
The remaining 172 riders from the starting field of 176 will race 139.8 miles from Beauvais to Caen in Stage 5 on Thursday.