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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Boonen wins after Wiggins heroics
Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins was caught seven kilometres from the end
Tom Boonen sprinted to victory in the sixth stage of the Tour de France after Britain's Bradley Wiggins failed with a brave effort to claim a breakaway win.

Wiggins led from the two kilometre mark and at one stage was 18 minutes clear, but riding alone took its toll and with seven kilometres left he was reeled in.

That left Boonen to beat Oscar Freire and Erik Zabel in a sprint finish for his first Tour stage win in two years.

Fabian Cancellara retains the overall race leader's yellow jersey.

It was hard for Vinokourov to push on the pedals but he's never talked about pulling out

Marc Biver
Astana team manager

Afterwards Boonen, who leads the sprinters' standings, claimed he had not felt under much pressure during the drought.

"I was feeling good. The best way to get good results is to get on the bike and take the stages day by day," he said.

"I'm now in the best possible position for the green jersey. I'm now going to stay close to Zabel."

Astana riders Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Kloeden, who both picked up injuries in crashes on Thursday, spent most of the day hovering near the back of the main pack and crossed the line with the rest of the bunch.

Team leader Vinokourov was riding with stitches in his knees and elbow as well as badly bruised buttocks, while Kloeden is suffering from a fissure in his coccyx and hip pains, and was in too much pain to stand in his pedals.

I thought that a counter-attack would soon come across, then I got 10, 15 minutes on the bunch

Bradley Wiggins

Astana team manager Marc Biver said it had been a tough day for his riders, particularly Vinokourov, but said there was no chance of him withdrawing from the race.

"The stage was very hard. He has had a lot of pain in his knees," he said.

"It was hard for him to push on the pedals but he's never talked about pulling out. I know him, he's a fighter. He will do whatever it takes to stay in the Tour.

"For Kloeden too, it was a bad day, with a lot of pain. His right foot got numb, he could not put pressure on the pedals."

Wiggins' attempt to win came 40 years to the day after the death of British former world champion Tom Simpson, who collapsed from heat exhaustion during the 1967 Tour.

But Wiggins said the effort had not been done in Simpson's memory and fellow Briton David Millar admitted the anniversary had gone largely unnoticed.

"Eighty percent of the peloton don't know it's the anniversary of his death. That's the sad truth," he said.

Wiggins said: "I attacked, looked around and saw I was the only one, but I thought, it's the Tour de France, I should continue.

606: DEBATE

"I thought that a counter-attack would soon come across, then I got 10, 15 minutes on the bunch. You don't choose to end up racing on your own."

Cancellara, meanwhile, knows he will lose the yellow jersey in Saturday's seventh stage, the first of two in the Alps, but hopes it will stay in his CSC team.

"There will be Carlos Sastre and Frank Schleck for us, it will be up to them," said Cancellara.

"I will try while I can, but for me the last 15km is not for me. I will support them as much as possible, because they've supported me all week."

Saturday's stage, a 197.5 km ride to Le Grand Bornand includes the race's first category one climb, over the Col de la Colombiere.


Stage Six result, Semur-en-Auxois-Bourg-en-Bresse (199.5km):

1 T Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 5 hrs 20 mins 59 secs
2 O Freire (Spn) Rabobank@ same time
3 E Zabel (Ger) Team Milram @ same time
4 S Chavanel (Fr) Francaise des Jeux @ same time
5 T Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole @ same time
6 D Bennati (It) Lampre-Fondital @ same time
7 R Foerster (Ger) Gerolsteiner @ same time
8 R Hunter (SA) Barloworld @ same time
9 R Feillu (Fr) Agritubel @ same time
10 M Fischer (Brz) Liquigas @ same time

Overall Tour standings:

1 F Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC 29 hrs 49:55"
2 A Kloeden (Ger) Astana @33"
3 F Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas @35"
4 D Millar (GB) Saunier Duval @41"
5 O Freire (Spn) Rabobank @43"
6 G Hincapie (US) Discovery same time
7 V Gusev (Rus) Discovery @45"
8 V Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne @46"
9 E Zabel (Ger) Milram @48"
10 M Astarloza (Spn) Euskaltel @49"
11 T Dekker (Ned) Rabobank @51"
12 B Vaugrenard (Fr) Francaise des Jeux @52"
13 JI Gutierrez (Spn) Caisse d'Epargne @53"
14 A Contador (Spn) Discovery @55"
15 A Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana same time
16 C Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto @56"
17 R Perez (Spn) Euskaltel same time
18 M Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile @57"
19 O Pereiro (Spn) Caisse d'Epargne same time
20 L Gerdemann (Ger) T-Mobile @58"



SEE ALSO
Steegmans too strong for Boonen
09 Jul 07 |  Cycling
McEwen wins Tour sprint thriller
08 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Cancellara claims Tour prologue
07 Jul 07 |  Cycling


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