Valkenburg, 5 July 2006. We are in the third stage of the Tour de France and Tom Boonen has not yet won a single one. In 2006 the Belgian was almost unbeatable in bunch sprints but not during the Tour de France. Robbie McEwen and Oscar Freire did not concede any stage wins to the Belgian. However, thanks to a reasonable prologue and close places of honour, Boonen, then world champion, managed to take the yellow jersey. For four days, he defended his jersey superbly. Until the time trial in Rennes threw a spanner in the works. Boonen ended up leaving the Tour de France early on. The stage towards Alpe d'Huez was too much for him. The Belgian cyclist suffered from respiratory and intestinal problems and was forced to drop out.