McEwen flies to victory in Saint-Quentin
In a similarly chaotic finale as three days ago in Strasbourg, Robbie McEwen was the strongest sprinter today in Saint-Quentin. Beating his rivals by several bike lengths, the Davitamon-Lotto rider again showed that he is the best when it comes down to profiting from hectic, uncontrolled situations, which put others far behind. Isaac Galvez (Caisse d'Epargne) finished second and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) third, with yellow jersey bearer Tom Boonen only fourth (after Thor Hushovd was relegated), but doing enough to keep the maillot jaune.
"I have such a great team," said McEwen after the victory, which he dedicated to Fred Rodriguez. "Gert Steegmans got me to the front at 200 metres - he is such a TGV train, it's unbelievable."
Boonen retained his overall lead. Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) punctured with only three kilometres to go, so he could not participate in the sprint.
A breakaway made of Egoi Martinez (Discovery), Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis), Christophe Mengin (Française des Jeux), Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues) and Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel) had led the race for 180 kilometres before getting reeled in by the swarm with 2 km to go. Julian Dean (Credit Agricole) crashed in the finale when he hit Steven de Jongh (Quick.Step), while to his left, Thor Hushovd almost pushed Bernhard Eisel into the barriers. That cost the Viking his fourth place.