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Rediff.com  » Sports » McEwen levels score with Boonen

McEwen levels score with Boonen

July 09, 2005 16:25 IST

Australia's Robbie McEwen levelled the score with sprint rival Tom Boonen by claiming his second stage victory in this year's Tour de France on Friday.

The Davitamon Lotto team leader, who won on Wednesday in Montargis, produced a trademark surge in the last 100 metres to beat Sweden's Magnus Backstedt and Austria's Bernhard Eisel in the seventh stage in Karlruhe.

Six-times Tour champion Lance Armstrong retained his 55-second race lead over team mate George Hincapie, staying out of trouble and finishing in the main bunch.

Boonen, still wearing the green sprint jersey after the Belgian's two stage wins, was involved in one of many crashes during the 228.5 km run from Luneville and finished seventh.

McEwen's triumph, which came before the Tour heads towards the mountains at the weekend, was his seventh on the Tour since 1999.

German riders were expected to shine on a rainy day on their home roads and they did.

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann staged the main breakaway of the day, attacking with McEwen before continuing on his own while the Australian safely returned to the pack.

The 25-year-old from Muenster held a maximum lead of eight minutes at the halfway mark after breaking clear in the descent of the day's first climb, the Col de la Chipotte, after 45 km.

WEGMANN CAUGHT

Wegmann failed to become the first German rider to win a stage in his country as he was caught 25 km from the finish.

But he had the consolation of seizing the polka-dot jersey as the best climber in the Tour at the end of the first week.

The steady rain which poured since the start in Luneville again caused a number of crashes. Boonen fell after 23 kilometres but was able to make it back on his bike, needing painkillers for the bruises.

It did not seem to affect him too much as he strengthened his lead in the points classification by snatching bonus points in intermediate sprints along the way.

Boonen now has 133 points, ahead of Norway's Thor Hushovd (122) and McEwen (96), according to provisional results.

Saturday's 231.5-km eighth stage from Pforzheim to Gerardmer will bring the race back into France and closer to the mountains with the ascent of the first second category climb in this Tour, the Col de la Schlucht, 15 km from the finish.

 

Francois Thomazeau
Source:
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