Bernucci emerges triumphant from crash chaos

Fassa Bortolo's Lorenzo Bernucci is just about the only happy man at the stage six finish in soaking

Fassa Bortolo's Lorenzo Bernucci is just about the only happy man at the stage six finish in soaking

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Lorenzo Bernucci provided his Fassa Bortolo team with something to smile about when he won the sixth stage of the Tour de France into sodden Nancy this afternoon, raising the Italian squad's profile as they desperately search for a new backer to replace Fassa at the end of this season.

But Bernucci was just about the only rider smiling in Nancy, where as many as 40 riders slid into the barriers on a wet final right-hand corner 400 metres from the line. The most unfortunate was local man Christophe Mengin, a stage winner of the Tour back in 1997, and the last member of a five-rider break to remain clear of the bunch as it sped into Nancy.

Mengin, who had attacked and left his four companions - Stphane Auge (Cofidis), Jaan Kirsipuu (Crdit Agricole), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) - and Mauro Gerosa on the last of four fourth-category climbs just 15km from the finish. By this point what had been a maximum 8-30 lead had been reduced due to Quick Step and Davitamon's pace-making to just 40 seconds.

Mengin had local knowledge on his side and must have known every twist and corner on the way in, and that the wet conditions would work in his favour as the peloton slowed a tad through each corner. Certainly, he did well to stay clear until Alexandre Vinokourov made a totally unexpected attack just inside the 2km banner.

The Kazakh champion may also have judged that the bunch would be much more cautious than normal going through the final few turns, and took advantage. A chase began, but only Bernucci got across to the Kazakh.

Mengin still led going into that final right-hander, but the Frenchman lost his bike going around the bend and slid into the bales. Vinokourov was not far behind but managed to unclip his right foot and avoid the prone Francaise des Jeux rider. Bernucci was even more fortunate than the T-Mobile star, as he was further back and had more time to respond to the conditions on the bend.

As Vinokourov clipped back into his pedal, 25-year-old Bernucci steamed by. All that was going to stop the Italian taking the biggest win of his career was a late spurt from someone in the bunch, but the first few riders through went down on the same patch of (oily?) road that had claimed Mengin, and dozens followed them down like dominoes, sprinters Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen among them.

One Fassa rider caught in the melee could be seen glancing down the road and then shouting into the mike stuffed into his jersey, no doubt exhorting Bernucci to sprint for all he was worth. But with Vinokourov still trying to regain momentum and the bunch reduced to walking pace around the final bend, there was never a chance that the beaming Fassa rider was going to be caught.

Vinokourov was the first of many riders to come home shaking their head, although he did at least have the compensation of a 12-second time bonus for second place on the stage as well as the seven seconds' advance he was given on the peloton. That lifted him to third overall, 1-02 down on Lance Armstrong, who appeared to come through the last bend chaos unscathed.

Stage 6, Troyes-Nancy

1 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4.12.52 (47.22kph)
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile
3 Robert Frster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.07
4 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Domina Vacanze
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
6 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
7 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
8 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel
9 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Lampre-Caffita
10 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC

16 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC
19 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile
21 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
30 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step
31 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
32 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel
36 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval
42 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
43 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
50 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel
53 Baden Cooke (Aus) Franaise des Jeux
54 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros
75 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC
78 Luke Roberts (Aus) CSC
88 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Liberty Seguros
99 Andreas Kloeden (Ger) T-Mobile
116 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
119 Brad McGee (Aus) Francaise des Jeux
124 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
125 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
126 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
128 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 0.00
134 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 0.07
140 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis
150 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r 3.57
177 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak 7.46
178 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC

Overall standings

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 17.58.23
2 Hincapie 0.55
3 Vinokourov 1.02
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 1.04
5 Julich 1.07
6 Jos Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel 1.14
7 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 1.16
8 Benjamin Noval (Spa) Discovery Channel 1.26
9 Basso
10 Arvesen 1.32

13 Ullrich 1.36
16 Roberts 1.38
18 Landis 1.50
24 Kloeden 2.29
26 Leipheimer 2.31
28 Beloki 2.43
32 Heras 2.58
43 Davis 3.22
46 Evans 3.29
51 McEwen 3.41
60 Rodriguez 3.57
68 Rogers 4.11
69 McGee 4.12
71 O'Grady 4.23
83 Horner 4.54
92 White 5.15
113 Mayo 5.48
123 Cooke 6.21
141 Zabriskie 9.05
153 Hunter 9.51
155 Gerrans 9.56

Points

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 106
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 99
3 O'Grady 76
4 Furlan 73
5 Forster 62
6 McEwen 61

King of the Mountains

1 Karsten Kroon (Hol) Rabobank 7
2 Stphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis 7
3 Erik Dekker (Hol) Rabobank 6
4 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 6
5 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 5
6 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval 4

Young rider: Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel
Team: CSC

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