Thor thunders to stage win
Thor Hushovd sprinted to victory in stage six of the Tour de France. Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey.
Last Updated: 09/07/09 11:01pm
Cervelo's Thor Hushovd sprinted to victory at the conclusion of stage six of the Tour de France in Barcelona.
The Norwegian powered past Oscar Freire in the closing metres of an uphill finish to the 181.5 kilometre route from Girona.
"It was a nervy stage, it rained, the roads were very slippery," said Hushovd, whose win took his career tally to eight Tour de France stage victories.
"Fortunately I was able to be in front of it all. It was hard for us, the sprinters, to keep up. It is the first victory for our Cervelo team this Tour. We have reached our first objective."
Freire, of the Rabobank team, finished second ahead of fellow Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas, who took third for Caisse d'Epargne.
In tricky wet conditions, the main bunch had chased down Garmin Slipstream's David Millar, the final member of a four-man breakaway, inside the final two km.
It was an agonising end to a brave solo effort, the Scot having been alone at the front for the previous 27km after moving clear of fellow escapees Stephane Auge, Sylvain Chavanel and Amets Txurruka.
"The stage started from my home town of Girona and I know the roads in the area very well," said Millar.
"I rode emotionally, with my heart rather than my head."
Defending champion Carlos Sastre was one of many riders to crash on the rain-soaked roads, but he made it back on his bike unhurt, while Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen also hit the tarmac shortly before the last climb, squandering his chance of fighting for the stage victory.
Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara finished 10th to retain his lead of less than a second in the general classfication as all the big guns finished together.
Britain's Mark Cavendish crossed the line in 16th to narrowly keep hold of the green jersey, although Hushovd has now cut his advantage to just one point.
The Tour heads into the high mountains for the first time on Friday when stage seven finishes with a 10.6km climb to the Andorre Arcalis ski station.
Meanwhile, Rabobank's Dutchman Robert Gesink, who broke his wrist in a crash on stage five, has been ruled out of the Tour.
Stage six result:
1 T Hushovd (Norway/Cervelo) 4 hrs 21 mins 33 secs
2 O Freire (Spain/Rabobank) same time
3 J Joaquin Rojas (Spain/Caisse d'Epargne)
4 G Ciolek (Germany/Milram)
5 F Pellizotti (Italy/Liquigas)
6 F Pozzato (Italy/Katusha)
7 A Ballan (Italy/Lampre)
8 R Nocentini (Italy/AG2R)
9 C Evans (Australia/Silence-Lotto)
10 F Cancellara (Switzerland/Saxo Bank)
1 F Cancellara (Switzerland / Saxo Bank ) 19 hrs 29 mins 22 secs
2 L Armstrong (US/Astana) same time
3 A Contador (Spain/Astana) +19"
1 M Cavendish (Britain/Columbia) 106 points
2 T Hushovd (Norway/Cervelo) 105
3 G Ciolek (Germany/Milram) 66