Stage 6 - Thursday, July 9 2009: Gérone - Barcelone 181.5 km | Results
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Breakaway hero David Millar had a fine ride but missed out on the win
The Rain In Spain
Garmin-Slipsteam's David Millar was the breakaway star of the sixth stage of the 2009 Tour de France. In genuinely unpleasant conditions on the run in to the finish in the Spanish city of Barcelona the tall Scot jumped clear of two fellow escapees and made a lone bid for victory.
The pouring rain, making the urban streets ultra-slippery, aided his cause for a time. Whilst the peloton tiptoed around the outskirts of Barcelone, he was able to concentrate on picking his own line, before settling down into a low tuck on the straighter sections.
However, Millar's close proximity to the yellow jersey - he was only just over a minute down on Fabian Cancellara at the start of the stage - didn't do him any favours. He was given some leeway by the main pack, but closing in on the finish he was not quite allowed the freedom a lower placed rider might have been granted.
Actually, the main field had their problems - the slippery roads brought down a number of riders and split the field. Tom Boonen was amongst the stars who crashed badly and he was joined on the tarmac by top Aussie Michael Rodgers and sprint contender Tyler Farrar. However, once into the centre of Barcelona, the wide open roads gave the pack room to manouvre they needed and the chase began in earnest.
From leading by some 20 seconds with just 2.7km to go, Millar was suddenly caught on the 2km climb to the finish and he ended up coming in 81 seconds down on the winner: that's a total loss of a minute and 41 seconds in little more than a mile and a half. At the finish, an atypically jolly Millar looked to have enjoyed himself, giving light-hearted TV interviews.
That final run up to the finish was described as a strong man's climb - a range of riders found themselves in contention, from the sprinters with decent climbing attributes, like Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire, to the all-round contenders like Cadel Evans and Andreas Klöden.
And it was Hushovd who duly emerged as the winner, blasting clear of Friere in the closing metres. Behind him, most of the leading contenders for the overall race sneaked into a 43 rider group which finished together. But Denis Menchov lost more time and, at over 4 minutes adrift, looks to have ridden himself out of contention before the mountains, which takes some doing.
Mark Cavendish was 16th and picked up 10 points, just enough to keep him in the green jersey. Thor Hushovd's consistent week and his win today mean that he now looks set to be Cavendish's main rival for the jersey, though neither are likely to score many points over the next few days as the race heads into the mountains.
Meanwhile, both Lance Armstrong and Fabian Cancellara finished in the lead group, so the Swiss time trial king retains the yellow jersey for one more day at least.
Members Know Best:
Dave F wrote: "Great to see Brad Wiggins up there during today's stage. Let's hope his brilliant showing this year continues in the mountains - and who would bet against him sneaking a stage win somewhere. He's due a breakthrough win at this level and he looks hungry this year!"
Jane D from Southend wrote: "Is it only me who wants to see Lance Armstrong get beaten in the mountains? He's been a disruptive influence in the Astana team and Contador must be itching to go head-to-head with him in the mountains!"