Post-Race Show: Stage 6
Team Columbia kept the race under tight control from the start. An early move, containing Jens! and David Millar of Team Garmin, among others, was quickly brought back. On a long, straight road, CSC went to the front, and in a patented move, put it in the gutter and turned the screws, opening up splits throughout the bunch. Juan Antonio Flecha and Damiano Cunego crashed, and were among those caught out. The CSC move was as short-lived as it was furious, and the group of favorites reformed at the base of the second climb of the day.
On the second category 2 climb, the Pas de Peyrol, a group of four escaped up the road: David de La Fuente and Josef Jufre both of Saunier Duval, Vincenzo Nibali of Team Liquigas, and Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d'Épargne. Team Columbia, anxious to protect the Yellow Jersey of Kim Kirchen, held them in check, never allowing the gap to reach much more than 2.00 minutes. Descending off the Pas, David de la Fuente nearly crashed on the wet pavement, but soon made it back across to the break. Over the final climb of the day, the group of favorites led now by Caisse d'Épargne, with some help from CSC, ended the hopes of the break. The pressure from Caisse dropped Damiano Cunego and Thor Hushovd, among others.
With just under 9 kilometers to go, Luis Leon Sanchez attacked on the descent, and quickly gained a gap over the surviving group of favorites. Filippo Pozzato, who had two team mates in the break much of the day, tried to go across to Sanchez, but by 2 km to go, he knew that he had no chance and that Sanchez was well and truly away. Checking behind him in the closing meters, Sanchez saw he had time in hand and began his celebrations of his first ever Tour stage win. This is the second stage win for Caisse d'Épargne this Tour.
Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner won the sprint behind Sanchez, while Kim Kirchen of Columbia retained the Yellow Jersey of race leader. Kirchen is also the Points leader, though Oscar Freire will wear the jersey tomorrow. David de la Fuente of Saunier Duval takes home the mountains jersey, the reward for his hard day in the break. Thomas Lövkvist wears white, with a gap of 37 seconds over Andy Schleck. Italian favorite, Damiano Cunego suffered another giorno nero, and lost 37 seconds to the other GC favorites.
Abandons. It was a rough day for French riders as Lillian Jégou of Français des Jeux crashed (doodsmak with tree) and abandoned with a broken arm, and both John Gadret of AG2R and Christophe Moreau of Agritubel quit the race. Marco Facci of Quickstep also abandoned. Magnus Backstedt of Team Garmen finished hors délai, and will not take the start tomorrow.
Here are today's stage results and the new general classification.