McEwen wins stage; Pollack takes overall lead
FORLI, Italy -- Australia's Robbie McEwen edged Germany's Olaf Pollack in a group sprint Friday to win the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia for his third triumph in six days.
Pollack took the overall leader's pink jersey from T-Mobile teammate Sergiy Honchar, capitalizing on a 12-second bonus awarded to the runner-up. Pollack leads Honchar by two seconds, with Jens Voigt and Michael Rogers eight seconds back.
McEwen, who rides with the Davitamon-Lotto team, completed the longest Giro stage -- a 143-mile flat course from Busseto to Forli -- in 5 hours, 24 minutes, 13 seconds. Tomas Vaitkus of Lithuania and Leonardo Duque of Colombia placed third and fourth, in the same time as the winner.
McEwen looked unbeatable in the sprints in the absence of top rival Alessandro Petacchi, who withdrew after breaking his left kneecap in a crash during the third leg.
"I'm apparently the best sprinter left in the race," said McEwen, who has 11 Giro stage wins overall. "But my wins are difficult anyway because everybody is racing against me at the finish."
The best Giro climbers -- Gilberto Simoni, Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego -- were expected to do well in Saturday's seventh leg from Cesena to Saltara, which includes several hilly sections.
Basso, runner-up to Lance Armstrong in last year's Tour de France, enters Saturday's stage 13 seconds behind Pollack. Cunego, the Giro winner in 2004, trails by 1:19.
The 21-stage race ends May 28 in Milan.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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