Armstrong Crashes; Boonen Takes Stage 6
Stage 6 began with a scare for five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong. The Texan was involved in a crash on the 123-mile course with riders from teams Gerolsteiner, Domina Vacanze, FDJeux, and Lotto-Domo after just eight miles. No one was injured in the incident and all riders were able to get back on their bikes, but it wasn’t the only crash to take place during the stage. Just before the race’s finish, another major crash split the peloton and resulted in many riders straggling in after the winning group. According to Tour de France rules, if a crash occurs within the one-kilometer mark, all riders involved will be awarded the same time as the group they were riding with.
Armstrong finishes with the peloton after crashing in Stage 6Armstrong finishes with the peloton after crashing in Stage 6
Armstrong rolled across the line in 34th place and currently stands at sixth in the general standings, followed by teammate George Hincapie in seventh place. Rivals Tyler Hamilton, Jan Ullrich, and Roberto Heras currently stand at 13th, 21st, and 39th, respectively.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Davitamon) won the stage in a mad dash for the finish line. Australian Stuart O’Grady (Cofidis) took second while Erik Zabel (TMO) rounded out the top three. O’Grady was able to take the green jersey from Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) with his second-place finish and French National Champion Thomas Voeckler (BLB), who placed 128th for the day, held on to the yellow jersey for the second day in a row.
At about the 11-mile mark, Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio-Bianchi), Marc Lotz (Rabobank), and Carlos Da Cruz ( FDJeux.com) broke away from the pack, with Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Jimmy Engoulvent (Cofidis), and CSC’s Kurt-Asle Arvesen soon joining them. Despite garnering a lead of more than 4:25 over the pack, with 37 miles to go the peloton began to chase and brought the gap down to 3:59, thanks to the efforts of teams Quick Step and Lotto-Domo.
With 30 miles to go, the gap was just 2:43 and at 21 miles left, that had been chipped down to 1:58. Despite an effort to hold off the pack, two of the six leaders, Arveson and Bertolini, were consumed by the peloton, leaving Flecha, Lotz, Da Cruz, and Engoulvent out front with just under 12 miles to go in the race.
But their lead didn’t last long. Flecha broke from the remaining three riders about four miles from the finish line, leaving them to be caught by the peloton. He made a dash to get out front but was chased down by the rest of the pack with just over one mile left in the race, setting up a final sprint for the finish line.