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Paris - Nice 2014: Stage 6


Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of Paris-Nice stage 6 from Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon to Fayence

106km remaining from 221km

The stage has passed the halfway point and we have 10 escapees up the road. They had a maximum lead of 2:55 after 90km, but the gap is now down to 2:30

The 10 leaders are Stephen Cummings (BMC), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre), Pim Ligthart (Lott-Belisol), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar), Gregory Rast (Trek Factory Racing), Aleksandr Kuchynski (Katusha), Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) and Florian Vachon (Bretagne - Seche Environnement)

There has been one third category climb already today where Sylvain Chavanel took full points and now is the virtual leader in the king of the mountains competition. Chavanel was very active in yesterday's break and did his best to hold off the peloton. Perhaps we will see something from him again today.

Simon Gerrans didn't sign on this morning. The Australian champion was seen hanging off the back on the final climb yesterday and has apparently been suffering from allergies. He hopes to be recovered and ready for Milan-San Remo in just over a week.

Today is the first of three hard days in the saddle for the peloton. There are five climbs in total on stage 6 with the category 1 Col de Bourigaille and summit finish on the category 2 Fayence set to play a crucial role in today's proceedings.

As the peloton hit around 1,500 metres to go the road takes a sharp turn upwards before levelling out slightly for the final 500m. Carlos Betancur could be on for another victory here, if yesterday's efforts haven't taken their toll. The punchy climb will suit the Colombian.

88km remaining from 221km

The high speed will no doubt show when the riders reach the final four climbs. Today's tricky finish could allow for another late break to succeed.

21-year-old neo-pro Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) finished second behind Betancur yesterday. The Luxembourg rider pushed Betancur right to the finish line, saying that the result was "very special" to him.

83km remaining from 221km

Sky will have to work hard today if they want to keep Thomas in the yellow jersey. While John Degenkolb is unlikely to be in the top 10 by the end of the day the Welshman is keenly aware of the potential threats further down the classification. He believes that Astana could be one of the biggest challengers for his jersey.

77km remaining from 221km

Provided the break don't stay away, which is unlikely with the close attention the peloton are paying, there are a number of riders in the bunch who could do something today. Tom-Jelte Slagter is only four seconds off the yellow jersey and today is a prime opportunity to take it. Vincenzo Nibali had a little go yesterday, but we haven't really seen his form yet. World Champion Rui Costa has also been fairly quite so far and attack at the bottom of the final climb could see him to his first win in the rainbow stripes. And, of course, there is Betancur.

Good news for any Chris Froome fans, the Sky rider is back to training after the injury that forced him to pull out of Tirreno-Adriatico. The team denied that he would need surgery on his back.

Speaking of Tirreno-Adriatico, you can also follow that live on Cyclingnews here. Mark Cavendish still leads after Omega Pharma-QuickStep's victory in the team time trial.

The peloton have woken up once again and pulled the escapees back to a more comfortable 2:10. We can expect to see this carrying on for much of the day.

Jakob Fuglsang was one of the three riders to escape at the finish yesterday. The Danish rider was happy with how it went.

61km remaining from 221km

Most of the riders in the break are far enough down in the general classification not to worry our race leader. However, Jens Keukeleire is a threat at only 25 seconds down. As too is Vachon, who is 43 second back on Thomas.

57km remaining from 221km

Sylvain Chavanel and Thomas Voeckler have gone off the front of the peloton. Chavanel will be looking for more mountains classification points

The pair are 25 seconds back on the leaders and 35 seconds ahead of the peloton. They will miss out on this climb, but there are still three more to come.

55km remaining from 221km

Voeckler had an off-day yesterday. He was dropped on the final climb and lost over 7 minutes on the winner.

Chavanel is still only a minute back in the general classification and his attack will have the peloton worried. They'll be keeping a close eye on him.

50km remaining from 221km

Ligthart took the seven points at the top of that climb. Here are the full KOM results for the côte des Tuilières. 1. Pim Ligthart (LTB) 7 points, 2. Jens Keukeliere (OGE) 5 points, 3. Giovanni Bernaudeau (EUC) 3 points, 4. Stephen Cummings (BMC) 2 points, 5. Aleksandr Kuchysnki (KAT)

AG2R are now taking up the pace setting in the peloton. The gap still stands at 1:10

Chavanel adds four more points to his lead int he king of the mountains competition, followed by Ligthart and Voeckler.

38km remaining from 221km

A number of teams can be seen on the front including Sky, Astana and FDJ. The gap continues to fall to 40 seconds.

Voeckler is riding hard on the front of the break group. He's testing the legs of his companions and looking much better than yesterday.

The peloton seem happy with the 35 second gap and it has stayed like that for a little while now.

Bernaudeau is the first of the leaders to crack, after Voeckler's efforts and he is now back with the peloton.

Four riders have now made a gap over the remaining 11 leaders, they are Ligthart, Voeckler, Chavanel and De Marchi

These four have 12 seconds over the other seven and 35 seconds on the peloton.

The leaders hold a 30 second gap on the peloton while the other seven are slipping back into the clutches of the peloton. Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Boonen are on the front. Their man is Jan Bakelants.

26km remaining from 221km

Sky hit the front of the peloton and riders are being shelled out the back at a high rate. Arthur Vichot is sitting just behind them.

25km remaining from 221km

John Degenkolb is still in the main group, but for how long?

Chavanel does what he set out to do and takes the KOM points. He's the only rider out front now, with the rest of his companions caught on that tough ascent.

Jose Serpa (Lampre) makes a jump off the front of the peloton with Romain Bardet (AG2R). They catch and immediately drop Chavanel.

23km remaining from 221km

21km remaining from 221km

It is Lieuwe Westra for Astana on the front now. Vincenzo Nibali is comfortably sitting in his wheel. Will Nibali try something on this finish?

His previous efforts are showing and Chavanel has been dropped by the group. It's going to be a lonely ride home for the Frenchman.

20km remaining from 221km

Frank Schleck has a dig off the front and is joined by two more riders.

The other two riders are Stefan Denifl (IAM) and Vuillermoz once again. Denifl was active in yesterday's finale too.

Lots of riders trying their luck to bridge to these three leaders. Yury Trofimov and Przemyslaw Niemiec have a go.

19km remaining from 221km

Attack from Nibali, but it goes nowhere.

The riders are now over the top of the penultimate climb and on the descent.

18km remaining from 221km

The last two climbs have really whittled down the main bunch. It looks to be down to around 30 or 40 riders.

It's all together now with 14km to go as the six escapees are caught.

Dries Devenyns (Giant-Shimano) and Damiano Caruso go off the front of the peloton.

10km remaining from 221km

Once they hit the bottom, there is very little flat before they have to start climbing once again on the final ascent to the finish.

The leading pair have established a 12 second lead, but they will need much more than that it they hope to hold off some of the GC men. Sky don't looked panicked by this attack.

It is David Lopez on the front again. He has done a mountain of work on the front in the final stages as Vincenzo Nibali goes on the attack again.

7km remaining from 221km

Nibali's attacks have done their work and they've caught the two leaders.

Some of the dropped riders are rejoining the lead group, swelling it's ranks. Astana playing both their cards with Nibali and Fuglsang. Simon Spilak has a go on his own.

Spilak is not a rider to be dismissed. He is quickly followed by Nibali.

Betancur looks to be struggling. He's got Bardet with him, but he doesn't look like he will take a second victory today. Michael Matthews has surprisingly managed to stay in this front group.

1km remaining from 221km

You can't put a good man down and Vuillermoz has gone on the attack again.

Stefan Denifl sets off in chase of Vuillermoz. Rui Costa is safely in the front of this main group.

Denefl is unsuccessful in his attempts to make it to Vuillermoz, although the AG2R rider is being pulled back pretty quickly.

Vincenzo Nibali dropped

Vuillermoz crashes out on a hairpin bend and is passed by the peloton. Rui Costa goes on the attack

Betancur wins

Betancur passed Costa in the final couple of hundred metres to take his second victory. Thomas finished fourth.

Looks like there must have been a problem for Slagter. Camera switches back and he can be seen climbing back onto his bike before the finish.

Today's top five are 1. Carlos Betancur, 2. Rui Costa, 3. Zdenek Stybar, 4. Geraint Thomas and 5. Arthur Vichot.

Betancur is the new race leaders, with the bonus seconds he took at the finish. The new top 10 looks like this:

That's it for today. See you tomorrow for stage 7 of Paris-Nice.

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