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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Van Bon grabs stage win
Alberto Elli, centre, leads the breakaway group
Alberto Elli, centre, leads the breakaway group
Rabobank's Leon van Bon won the sixth stage of the Tour de France after a pack of 12 broke clear 14 kilometres into the stage.

The group launched an attack 184.5km out from the finish in Tours and were never threatened.

But the day belonged to Deutsche Telekom rider Alberto Elli who wrested the yellow jersey from Laurent Jalabert after beginning the stage 2 mins 15 sec behind the Frenchman.

Elli went with the breakaway and could not believe his luck when the dozen were not hauled in.

"It's a dream come true. It's my 11th Tour de France and I'm now wearing the yellow jersey. I don't know what to say," said Elli.

Stuart O'Grady crashed heavily
Stuart O'Grady crashed heavily
"It's very important but it's not a victory as such. Victory would be to take the yellow jersey back to Paris but it is not something I'm capable of doing."

Elli, who finished sixth in the chasing pack behind Van Bon of the Netherlands, relegated Jalabert to 10th overall, 5min 40sec off the lead.

At 36, Elli is competing in his 11th Tour, but has rarely shone on his previous outings, his best placing being seventh in 1994.

He has become one of the most sought-after lieutenants in the sport, joining the German team two years ago to help 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich.

"Jalabert's ONCE team let us go and I had my day at last. I spent all those years trying hard in vain. And there it is," he added.


My job is still to help Jan Ullrich win the Tour. I will be by his side in the mountains and on the flat
Alberto Elli
"But my job is still to help Jan win the Tour. I will be by his side in the mountains and on the flat," he said.

Van Bon, the Dutch national champion, led home his Rabobank team-mate Markus Zberg and Emmanuel Magnien of Francaise de Jeux.

"This was my second Tour de France (stage) win and it was very beautiful," the 28-year-old Van Bon said.

"My team worked very well for me."

Another Dutchman, Servais Knaven, was fourth and Lithuania's Arvis Piziks also squeezed in ahead of Elli.

The breakaway pack's lead was 12 minutes at the 47km mark but by the close the peloton had closed it to 7m 49s.

As the riders headed into Tours, France's Jacky Durand launched two attacks but it was Mark Wauters who led out down the 1500m finishing straight.

He paved the way for his Rabobank team-mates to grab a one-two finish.

Rabobank, with three riders in the breakaway group, were perfectly placed to dominate the stage.

Earlier in the stage Australian Stuart O'Grady and Estonia's Jann Kirsipuu were involved in a heavy crash.

O'Grady, who was lying fourth in the race for the green jersey, was left clutching his collarbone and finished the stage well behind the peloton.

Sacked

Meanwhile Dutch cycling team Farm Frites have sacked Russian champion Sergei Ivanov.

Ivanov was not allowed to start the Tour de France after failing a blood test on the first day of the race last week.

Ivanov was one of three riders, with Slovenian Andrej Hauptman and Italian Rossano Brasi, found with a level of hematocrite in the blood above the legal limit of 50 per cent.

Farm Frites had wanted to hear Ivanov's explanations before making a decision on his case.

Ivanov was a member of the TVM team which fled the Tour in controversy two years ago in the middle of a doping scandal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Radio Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"This was supposed to be a dull, predictable flat stage ... it turned out to be anything but."
See also:

05 Jul 00 | Tour de France
04 Jul 00 | Tour de France
25 Jun 00 | Tour de France
Links to more Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.


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