Mayo wins Dauphine sixth stage; Leipheimer leads

Updated: June 10, 2006, 2:08 PM ET
Reuters

LA TOUSSUIRE, France -- American Levi Leipheimer stretched his overall lead to 1 minute, 48 seconds after finishing fourth behind Spain's Iban Mayo on the penultimate stage of the Dauphine Libere .

Leipheimer went into Saturday's 169-kilometer sixth stage, from Briancon to La Toussuire, 28 seconds ahead of Denis Menchov but the Russian crashed mid-stage and lost time on the final ascent.

France's Christophe Moreau moved up to second overall and Austrian Bernard Kohl was third, 2:51 down.

"There's still one tough, hilly stage left to race," a cautious Leipheimer told reporters.

"Tactically today wasn't too complicated, all I had to do was follow the strongest climbers."

Mayo ended a two-year dearth of victories with a powerful lone win, 1:21 ahead of compatriot Alejandro Valverde on the mountaintop finish.

Moreau was the quickest of three chasers, 1:37 behind Mayo.

Mayo took off with three other Spanish riders on the second climb of the day, the Croix de Fer, before dropping his compatriots on the 18.5-kilometer ascent of La Toussuire.

"The first sign in two years that I was back on track came on Friday's stage when I finished second." said Mayo, whose last win was overall in the Dauphine Libere in 2004.

"After that, my confidence really grew, and today I knew I could do something big."

"I was worried about Valverde in a sprint finish because he's fast, so I had to drop him."

"Fortunately for me, he cracked when I attacked 4 kilometers from the line, if not I might not be celebrating this win now," added the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider.

Friday's stage winner Ludovic Turpin crashed and left the race in an ambulance.

Race medics said the French Ag2R rider broke his right hip when he fell on the dangerous descent of the Col du Mollard mid-stage.

The Dauphine Libere, a warm-up for the Tour de France, finishes on Sunday in Grenoble.

ALSO SEE