<
>

Leader Beltran rides for U.S. Postal team

9/10/2004

CASTELLON, Spain -- Spanish cyclist Oscar Freire won the sixth stage
of the Spanish Vuelta on Thursday, and countryman Manuel Beltran of
the U.S. Postal Service team kept his lead as the overall standings
remained unchanged.

Lance Armstrong, who won his sixth straight Tour de France title
in July while riding for U.S. Postal, is not competing in this
race.

Freire, a two-time world road champion who rides for the
Rabobank team, beat Germany's Erik Zabel and Australia's Stuart
O'Grady at the finish. Freire covered the 97 miles from Benicarlo
to Castellon in 3 hours, 48 minutes, 53 seconds.

Friday's seventh stage is a 106-mile stretch between Castellon
and Valencia. The 21-leg race ends Sept. 26 in Madrid. The Tour de
France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta are the top three events in the
European cycling season.