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Boonen holds onto yellow jersey

Friday, July 7, 2006

CAEN, France -- Tom Boonen built his overall lead in the Tour de France by finishing second in the fifth stage Thursday, although the Belgian world champion is feeling the strain of wearing the yellow jersey.

He was runner-up to Spain's Oscar Freire, the three-time former world champion who prevailed in a closing sprint.

Boonen increased his lead by earning bonus time, and he will be the front-runner for the third straight day during today's sixth stage. But the yellow jersey, he said, felt "more heavy" because "I'm not supposed to wear it."

Freire also benefited from bonus time, jumping from 20th to third overall. World time-trial champion Michael Rogers of Australia is still second, 13 seconds behind Boonen, with Freire another four seconds back. George Hincapie of the United States slipped from third to fourth, also 17 seconds behind Boonen.

Freire, of the Rabobank squad, accelerated sharply in the last 300 yards, sprinting up the right side of the finishing straightaway for his second stage victory in three Tour de France races.

All 172 remaining riders completed the mostly flat, 140-mile route from Beauvais despite several crashes.

Boonen said defending the lead has drained him. His goal is not to succeed seven-time champion Lance Armstrong as the winner when the race ends in Paris on July 23. Rather, he wants to win more stages and the green jersey, which goes to Tour's best sprinter.

In that category, Boonen is one point behind Australia's Robbie McEwen, who won the green jersey in 2002 and 2004.


Results

Fifth Stage

Thursday at Caen, France; 139.8 miles

1. Oscar Freire, Spain, Rabobank, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 50 seconds.

2. Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step-Innergetic, same time.

Notable

5. Robbie McEwen, Australia, Davitamon-Lotto, same time.

7. Thor Hushovd, Norway, Credit Agricole, same time.

23. George Hincapie, United States, Discovery Channel, same time.

34. Floyd Landis, United States, Phonak, same time.

42. Christian Vandevelde, United States, Team CSC, same time.

49. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Gerolsteiner, same time.

80. Bobby Julich, United States, Team CSC, same time.

114. David Zabriskie, United States, Team CSC, same time.

Overall Standings

(After five stages)

1. Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step-Innergetic, 25:10:51.

2. Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, 13 seconds behind.

3. Oscar Freire, Spain, Rabobank, :17.

4. George Hincapie, United States, Discovery Channel, :17.

5. Thor Hushovd, Norway, Credit Agricole, :19.

6. Robbie McEwen, Australia, Davitamon-Lotto, :24.

Notable

8. Floyd Landis, United States, Phonak, :28.

16. David Zabriskie, United States, Team CSC, :35.

20. Bobby Julich, United States, Team CSC, :37

23. Christian Vandevelde, United States, Team CSC, :40.

25. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Gerolsteiner, same time.


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