By Ross Stapleton

On a day when the world was frozen with shock at events in London, a bleak and wet sixth stage
of the Tour de France ended in its own minor misery with a major crash on the
final turn into the finishing straight that effectively took out all the key
sprinters including the gathering Aussie aces.

The crash occurred
under a kilometre from the finish when the leader, France’s Christophe
Mengin, came into the sharp right hand corner too fast and his bike
slid from under him – producing a chain reaction from the chasing pack
who could get no traction in the wet. The resulting slow motion pile up saw
little damage done physically, but ended in a tangle of bikes and fallen
or dismounted bodies.

The stage winner, Italy’s Lorenzo
Bernucci of Fassa Bortolo, avoided the crash but Australia’s Robbie McEwen,
Stuart O’Grady and Allan Davis were all stopped in their tracks along with their
green jersey nemesis Tom Boonnen. The crash halted what would have
otherwise been yet another mass bunch sprint finish and possible Aussie stage
win.

Lance Armstrong riding sensibly
just off the pace had sufficient warning to
miss the trouble and retained his 55 second lead over Discovery Channel team
mate George Hincapie.

Peter Fray

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