McEwen best of the sprinters in Esch
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) has wasted little time in claiming a stage win in the 2006 Tour de France, winning another hectic sprint in Esch-sur-Alzette ahead of Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole). The latter was on McEwen's wheel as they made the final dash to the line, but clicked out of his pedal when he bumped into McEwen, and ended up freewheeling across the finish. Nevertheless, he claimed enough time back to take the maillot jaune from George Hincapie.
The 228 km stage starting in Obernai again saw the first break of the day succeed: Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) took off after 1 km and were not seen again for some time. The pair already had 11'20 after 31 km before first Discovery, then Quick.Step, Davitamon and Credit Agricole came to the front to control the gap. De la Fuente was the strongest, and dropped his companion on the Côte de Kédange-sur-Canner with 40 km to go in a bid to take a solo win. But he was caught by a flying Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) on the Côte de Kanfen at 16 km to go, and his day in front was finished.
Wegmann continued until 7 km left, then Calzati, Kopp, and finally Kessler all tried to break clear. The latter survived in front until 250m to go, when the sprinters caught him. McEwen had the advantage in the lead out, and kept it all the way to the line, comfortably holding off Boonen and Hushovd.