CHERBOURG, France — Italian Guido Bontempi easily outraced four challengers in the final sprint Wednesday to win the 124.3-mile (200-kilometer) sixth stage of the Tour de France bicycle race.
Bontempi, a 26-year-old sprinter on the Carrera team, outran his rivals over the last 30 kilometers to finish in 4 hours 47 minutes 1 second.
He edged Roberto Pagnin, also of Italy; Frenchman Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, and Belgian Marc Sergeant by 2 seconds. Jean-Claude Garde of France was fifth, 12 seconds back of the leader.
The pack, led by Belgian Josef Liecken, came in 56 seconds later.
Dutchman Johan Van der Velde, winner of the fifth stage Tuesday, retained the overall lead. Frenchman Dominique Gaigne was in second place, 36 seconds back, while Bontempi was third, another second behind.
Laurent Fignon, two-time winner of the Tour de France, was sixth, 49 seconds behind the leader, while five-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault was 29th, 2:39 back.
The stage from Evreux was hotly contested, as Hinault, eager to break Fignon and his Systeme-U's team dominance of the top 10 overall places, escaped the pack early.
He was joined by four members of the Carrera team--Irishman Stephen Roche, Italian Bruno Leali, Swiss Eric Maechler and Belgian Eddy Schepers. The group was caught first by Fignon and later absorbed by the pack.
Hinault later warned his opponents that "the old lion still bares his teeth."
Bontempi complained that on the final escape, his companions slowed the pace to ensure he wouldn't take the overall lead.
"In the beginning, when our escape had stretched out to more than a minute, I thought that I'd be able to take the yellow jersey," Bontempi said. "But my companions on the escape wouldn't ride fast enough. About five kilometers (3.1 miles) before the finish, I knew I was never going to make it. I would accelerate, but when one of the others took over the relay, they would slow down."
Three riders were disqualified for finishing too far behind the pack. The loss of Frenchman Patrice Esnault, who replaced injured star Sean Kelly on the Kas team; Jelle Nijdam of Holland, and Renan Ferraro, the only Brazilian rider on the Tour, meant 194 riders were left from the 210 who started.
They will run the 124.9-mile (201-kilometer) seventh stage today between Cherbourg and St. Hilaire, Hinault's native region in Brittany.
Edgar Corredor was the top Colombian rider of the day, finishing 70th in the main pack. His Cafe de Colombie team leader, Luis Herrera, was 174th in the same time.