Stage 6: Bonneval-Angers

07-09-04.stage6 profile

Today's race was mainly interesting in its oddities, as a flat, sprinter stage rarely offers much excitement until the end. In a stage made for sprinters, two of the big name sprinters, Petacchi and Cipo, had withdrawn prior to the race. It's not surprising that they were withdrawing, but it was surprising to me, at least, that both would pass up this relatively easy stage, especially Petacchi who is without a grand tour stage victory for the first time in quite awhile.

The absence of Petacchi lead to the strange sight of seeing him teammate Juan Antonio Flecha in a breakaway that lasted until the final mile. Fassa Bortolo and Domina Vacanze were clearly uninterested in driving the peloton. The long breakaway also meant that Robbie McEwen was unable to defend the green jersey by gathering more sprint points.

Finally, in a race where the weather finally let up and delivered a relatively incident-free course (after a little minor crash at the 12km point involving Armstrong), a crash in the final kilometer took out nearly the whole of the peloton, including McEwen, leaving Boonen to take the stage and O'Grady to take the green jersey away from McEwen. For several minutes after the first riders crossed the line, crash-marked riders were still straggling in. Armstrong came in late but looked unhurt, as did Ullrich and Hamilton.

related articles: Tour de France 2004