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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Boogerd Braves Rain To Claim Sixth Stage

AIX-LES-BAINS, France -- Young Dutchman Michael Boogerd burst into the limelight by winning the sixth stage of the Tour de France in torrential rain Friday.


Boogerd escaped in the last 1,500 meters of the day's 207-kilometer ride from Arc-et-Senans to score his first significant win since turning professional two years ago.


The 24-year-old from The Hague crossed the line narrowly ahead of a group comprising the main favorites.


German Erik Zabel won the sprint for second place and Frence's Laurent Jalabert took third place while Stephane Heulot of France came in with the pack to retain the race leader's yellow jersey.


The last stage before strenuous climbs in the Alps from Saturday ruined the hopes of former world champion Lance Armstrong of the United States, who withdrew after 70 kilometers.


As Armstrong, winner of two stages, in 1993 and last year, was getting off his bike, three riders broke away on the twisting roads of the Jura mountains.


Dutchman Leon Van Bon and Italians Andrea Ferrigato and Marco Saligari, soon joined by Uzbek Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, built a lead of up to three minutes 20 seconds but they were caught with 30 kilometers remaining.


Inspired by the example of compatriot Jeroen Blijlevens, who won a mass sprint to claim Thursday's stage, Boogerd tried his luck as the riders entered Aix-Les-Bains.


"In such conditions, the only option was to take all possible risks," he said. "This is the greatest moment of my life."


Boogerd said he had little to expect from Saturday's 199-kilometer stage from Chambery to Les Arcs featuring the Madeleine pass, where the battle for final victory should really start.


Spaniard Miguel Indurain, bidding for a record sixth win, and the other favorites have kept a low profile since the race started last Saturday from the Dutch city of Den Bosch.


But they will have to be more active in the next few days as they all lost over four minutes on race leader Heulot in Wednesday's stage.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)