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Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 16:29 UK

Hushovd overhauls Millar for win

Date: 4 July - 26 July
Coverage: BBC Sport website: text commentary of each stage and streamed BBC commentary of the last 90 minutes of each stage available; commentary on selected stages on BBC 5 Live sports extra

Thor Hushovd
Hushovd recorded his seventh Tour stage victory

Britain's David Millar was denied victory in the sixth stage of the Tour de France as he was caught with less than 2km left in Barcelona.

Norway's Thor Hushovd won the sprint from Spaniard Oscar Friere, while Mark Cavendish finished 16th after the 181.5km journey from Girona.

The Manxman retained the sprinters' green jersey by a single point, while Fabian Cancellara stayed in yellow.

Millar, 32, was part of a four-man break for around 130km of the stage.

He left Sylvain Chavanel, Amets Txurruka and Stephane Auge to go it alone but could not quite hold on in the climb to the finish in Montjuic.

Millar told BBC Sport: "I'm good at being agonisingly close."

"I tried to avoid looking round as I was holding them off pretty well, but my legs fell off when I got to that climb.

"As soon as I looked under my arm and saw them it was as though someone had unplugged the power."

It was harsh on Millar who broke on the category four climb up Cote de Tossa de Mar after around 50km and was followed by Chavanel and then Auge as the trio opened up a lead approaching four minutes.

I'm not going to sacrifice my chances of reaching Paris to hold onto the green jersey

Mark Cavendish

The peloton reigned that back slightly but then allowed the trio an advantage that fluctuated between two and three minutes as the riders went up and over a couple of category three climbs.

Spain's Txurruka made his bid by bridging the gap between the peloton and the leading trio on the climb up Collsacreu, but Auge made sure he led over the summit of each hill to take the lead in the King of the Mountains race and he ensure he will be wearing the polka dot jersey into the Pyrenees on Friday.

Then, with 29km remaining and the peloton closing in, Millar made his move. He bolted clear and quickly put 30 seconds between himself and Txurruka, Chavanel and Auge.

Txurruka made a brave attempt to close the gap on the final category four climb of the day, and was joined by Remi Pauriol, who had leapt clear of the main bunch, but they were swallowed up on the outskirts of Barcelona.

The only remaining question was whether Millar had the legs to hold on. The conditions were in his favour as the roads were still wet and slippery after a huge thunderstorm earlier in the day and sprinter Tom Boonen was one of several riders to crash on the run in.

But the peloton was not to be denied and Millar was finally reeled in on a sharp incline in the final two kilometres.

Several attacks followed and Freire looked set to give the Spanish fans a home victory before Hushovd powered past him in the final metres to take his seventh career stage win.


"I knew I could do something in this stage but it was very hard because of the weather conditions and the slippery roads," said the 31-year-old.

"It was Cervelo's first goal to win a stage, now we can concentrate on helping Carlos Sastre retain his Tour crown."

Millar, who himself has won three Tour de France stages, simply said: "I rode more with my heart than my head."

Fellow Brit Cavendish finished 16th to pick up enough points to keep him in green for stage seven - he has 106 to Hushovd's 105.

"I wasn't going to to go all out as I didn't think I was going to match Thor and Oscar here," a philosophical Cavendish told BBC Sport.

"I may be able to wear green for another day but I'm not going to sacrifice my chances of reaching Paris to hold onto it.

"Every other sprint day is going to suit me so hopefully we can get it right then because I want to reach Paris with more stages wins."

Friday sees the riders hitting the big mountains for the first time as the race enters the Pyrenees and Tour leader, Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara, is already resigned to losing his yellow jersey.

"It's been a beautiful week to be in this yellow jersey," he said. "I'm going to try to defend it but I don't know how well I can do."

Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong is among those who will be looking to take control of the race, although he knows he faces tough competition from his Astana team-mate Alberto Contador.

"Friday is an important day," the 37-year-old American said. "I don't know if it's THE most important day, but it's definitely a big appointment on this Tour.

"I know Alberto wants to assert himself in the race. I don't need a team meeting to know that.

"If he goes and nobody can hang with him, I'll just stay with the other leaders.

"But I'll show up, try to do my best, get to the top as quick as I can, and we'll see."

Stage six result:

1. Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo) 4 hours 21 minutes 33 seconds
2. Oscar Freire (Spa/Rabobank) same time
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Caisse D'Epargne) "
4. Gerald Ciolek (Ger/Team Milram) "
5. Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Liquigas) "
6. Filippo Pozzato (Ita/Katusha) "
7. Alessandro Ballan (Ita/Ballan) "
8. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita/AG2R) "
9. Cadel Evans (Aus/Lotto) "
10. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxobank) "

Selected others:

24. Mark Cavendish (GB/Columbia) "
23. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) "
24. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) "
27. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) "
96. David Millar (GB/Garmin) +1 minute 21 seconds

Overall standings:

1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxobank) 19 hours 29 minutes 22 seconds
2. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) same time
3. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) +19 secs
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) +23
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Astana) +31

Selected others:

6. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +38 secs
20. David Millar (GB/Garmin) +2 minute 28 secs
23. Carlos Sastre (Spa/Cervelo) +2 minutes 44 secs
38. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia) +3 minutes 33 secs
161. Charlie Wegelius (GB/Silence) +15 minutes 04 secs

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see also
Voeckler wins Tour's fifth stage
08 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France week one photos
10 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong just misses Tour lead
07 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Superb Cavendish triumphs again
06 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish storms to stage victory
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish puts stage win down to team
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cancellara wins first Tour stage
04 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France ones to watch
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling

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