Leader Beltran rides for U.S. Postal team

Originally Published: September 9, 2004
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press