Luis Leon Sanchez of Spain celebrating winning the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Friday. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)
AURILLAC, France: With fog encasing the mountaintops of the Massif Central and rain making slick the newly paved descents, it would have to be a brave soul who attempted to get away from the pack during a downhill stretch of the Friday stage of the Tour de France.
That is just what Luis León Sánchez, a 24-year-old Spaniard riding for the Caisse D'Épargne team, did, as he rode away from the group roughly 5 kilometers, or 3 miles, from the finish to win the seventh stage of the 95th Tour and notch his team's second victory in the first week of the race.
Sánchez took advantage of a short, steep climb that peaked just 9 kilometers from the finish. As many of the sprinters struggled to get over the hill, a Category 3 climb that measured only 1.7 kilometers in length but had a 9.9 percent average grade, Sánchez set out on the attack on the backside and finished six seconds ahead of a group of 23 riders, including most of the race favorites.
Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia remained in the race lead by 6 seconds over Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto, with Stefan Schumacher, who tried but failed to escape on the same descent as Sánchez on Friday, in third place, 16 seconds back.
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New York Times