Boonen wins 12th; Rasmussen keeps lead |

Boonen wins 12th; Rasmussen keeps lead

Christophe Ena/APTom Boonen of Belgium crosses the finish line ahead of German rider Erik Zabel to win the 12th stage of the Tour de France, Friday.

CASTRES, France ” Tom Boonen of Belgium won Friday’s 12th stage of the Tour de France, his second stage victory this year, and Michael Rasmussen of Denmark retained the overall lead.

Boonen, who already holds the green jersey for the best sprinter, clenched his fists in the air after winning a sprint finish in the 110.9-mile trek from Montpellier to Castres.

The final dash was classic sprinting. Heading the pack for the last kilometer (0.6 mile), Boonen’s support riders on his Quick Step Innergetic team gradually peeled away one by one, leaving him to burst ahead with 164 yards left and finish in 4 hours, 25 minutes, 32 seconds.

Erik Zabel of Germany was second. Robert Hunter, who became the first South African to win a stage on Thursday, took third.

Rasmussen finished safely in the trailing pack along with his biggest challengers for the yellow jersey. He is 2:35 ahead of second-place Alejandro Valverde and 2:39 in front of Iban Mayo in third.

On Saturday, it’s a 33.6-mile individual time trial in and around the picturesque village of Albi ” a discipline that Rasmussen acknowledges isn’t his strength.

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