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Paris - Nice 2015: Stage 6

Hello and welcome to stage 6 of Paris-Nice.

You join us with just over 124km of racing remaining and the lead group of 31 riders at 2:15 over the peloton.

That's right, 31 riders in the lead group. And they are:

 

Lars Boom (Astana), Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), Warren Barguil (Giant Alpecin), Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff Saxo) Sergei Chernetckii (Katusha), Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Dylan Van Van Baarle (Cannondale), Jan Bakelants (Ag2r), Erviti, Jon Izaguirre Intxausti and Quintana (Movistar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL Jumbo), Jack Bauer (Cannondale Garmin), Rein Taaramae (Astana), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Simon Yates (Orica), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Michael Valgren (Tinkoff Saxo), Tom Jelte Slagter (Cannondale Garmin), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Mickaël Chérel (ALM), Ben Hermans (BMC Racing), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff Saxo), Luis Angel (Cofidis), Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff), Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne-Séché Environnement).

Wellens is the virtual leader on the road, having started the stage at 1:25 down on the yellow jersey. French fancy, Sylvain Chavanel is also in contention, starting the day at 1:30 off the lead.

 

The leaders and the bunch are over the Col de Vence but still have five more climbs to come during the stage. We've 115km of racing remaining.

A reminder of the overall classification coming into today's mountain stage:

 

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step 23:56:20
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:01
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:03
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:27
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
6 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:00:38
7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 0:00:41
8 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:44
9 Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha 0:00:50
10 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida 0:00:51

111km remaining from 180km

The final climb of the stage is the Côte de Peille, a first cat ascent but it's over 20km from the finish but up ahead the lead group has seen a split with Taaramae and Kruijswijk going clear before the second climb of the day. Neither rider are a threat on GC at the moment, Kruijswijk the closest, but over three minutes down on yellow.

No Team Sky or Etixx riders in the move and both teams will be expected to keep the break under control. The GC in the race is tightly posed but even though Etixx have yellow, it's Sky who seem in the best position with two riders just off the lead by a matter of seconds. The British team have the firepower for the mountains so race leader Kwiatkowski will need to measure his efforts today and not burn himself out. Not only that but his squad will need to keep Porte and Thomas in check. It's a tall order but if the world champion can go with one attack from Porte or Thomas he could at least eliminate the other Sky rider from the picture.

Worth mentioning once more that De Gendt is in the break for the third day in a row. He's on course to wrap up the KOM jersey today.

We're 6km from the foot of the next climb, the Côte de Levens and the break is all back together again. The gap to the Etixx led peloton is at 2:50.

The 31 man break crest the top of the climb, their lead a shade under three minutes as Etixx continue to tap out steady and controlled pace as we head towards Nice.

5km from the base of the second category Côte de Châteauneuf, with the break still holding around three minutes over the chasing peloton. These climbs aren't going to split the peloton but each one will sap the strength and soften up the riders before the final two ascents of the Col Saint Roch and the Côte de Peille. And Wellens is still the virtual leader on the road, and Lotto Soudal have given a decent account of themselves in the race this week. A stage, De Gendt attacking every bit of tarmac from Paris to Nice, and now Wellens putting the pressure on Etixx. Marc Sergeant can't ask for much more.

A fair few passengers in the break so it will be interesting to see how the group thins out over the next two climbs. There are some strong climbers present with Movistar, Orica, Cannondale, and Tinkoff well represented.

And we're onto the lower slopes of the Côte de Châteauneuf and the pressure is starting to tell with a few more riders not moving to the front and helping to dictate the pace at the front of the break. 84km to race.

Hard day at Paris-Nice. Bryan Coquard, Nacer Bouhanni, and Heinrich Haussler have all dropped out

@TheRaceRadio Sat, 14th Mar 2015 13:27:12

News Shorts: Moser inducted into Giro hall of fame, Démare abandons Paris-Nice: D'Hoore discusses anorexia, Women... http://t.co/vUN70fKAqL

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sat, 14th Mar 2015 13:22:43

De Gendt was first to the top of the last climb and extends his lead in the KOM competition. The Lotto rider has been on the attack all-week and Lotto will be pleased with that effort after signing the rider from QuickStep.

80km remaining from 180km

The rain starts to fall on both the break and the peloton as we enter the final 80km of racing. The gap is currently being held at 2:10 with Etixx still on the front.

#ParisNice with the miserable weather many abandons. @GertSteegmans and @VANDEWALLE_K have called it a day. Tomorrow no teamwork w/ TT.

@TrekFactory Sat, 14th Mar 2015 13:42:03

#Tirreno: Durbridge and Hayman crashed on the descent but are back together racing. Phew!

@ORICA_GreenEDGE Sat, 14th Mar 2015 13:43:01

And you can can follow all our updates from Tirreno, right here.

Here at Paris Nice the break and the peloton are on the long descent, and they're quickly ticking off the miles as we head towards the next climb of the Côte de Coaraze.

Away from the race and Bradley Wiggins has been granted the go ahead to race the Tour of Yorkshire. The news on that is here.

In other news Contador has been given a new road bike from Specialized. We've the story and the gallery of bike images, just here.

And if you want to catch up on Tirreno race highlights, we've stages 1-3 of the race on our inCycle playlist, which is just a click away.

Back to this race and the break, and the bunch are on the lower slopes of the Côte de Coaraze. 71km to go.

As soon as the break crest this climb they'll ride in the valley for a short time but then it's the ascent of the Col Saint Roch, a first category climb, and the second one of today's stage.

De Gendt and Breschel have been dropped by the break and it's Boom who is first over for Astana. Back in the peloton there's a split with 25 riders clear, with the race leader where he needs to be and in the move.

More and more riders are being distanced by the break as they continue to drive on in the rain and towards the next climb. Hivert, Sicard, Hermans among those to lose contact.

Black, Cromwell, Knetemann and Longo Borghini fighting for the win in #RondevanDrenthe

@Laura_Weislo Sat, 14th Mar 2015 14:00:17

63km remaining from 180km

World champions make world class decisions but is this going to be one as Kwiatkowski goes clear of the field with Tony Martin, Julian Alaphilippe, Michal Golas and Gilbert (BMC). They have 35 seconds over the main field which is being led by Team Sky. It's plucky and it's bold from the Polish rider.

Etixx are asking questions of Team Sky at the moment. They put the British team under pressure at Algarve earlier this season but the men in black and blue stood firm. This time they need to close down a three-man move before the lead goes out to a minute. There's a long descent before the final climb and Tony Martin could do a lot of damage in that section.

Kwiatkowski's cluster is now 1:35 off the lead group, which is down to 20 riders and the Team Sky led peloton is still at 35 seconds. The race is gloriously splitting apart in the final two hours of action as a number of squads roll the dice.

Group also includes @alafpolak @golasmichal & @tonymartin85 #ParisNice

@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 14th Mar 2015 14:05:59

Martin pushes the pace for the Etixx move with Team Sky hot on their heels. Arguably the two best teams of the season going head-to-head in France but it looks like the Kwiatkowski move is being brought back.

Back together, and all just before the start of the first category Col Saint Roch.

The break have just 1:20 on the field, with tensions high after the race leader jumped clear with several of his teammates.

The rain seems to have lifted as the break heads to the top of the climb. We've still over 50km of racing and it's Etixx and Team Sky near the front of the main field.

On the climb it's still raining, even if it is dry near the finish. Etixx have taken up priority seating at the front of the peloton that's down to less than 40 riders.

Etixx still have the numbers at this stage, with Team Sky just to their flank. Van Garderen is there too, and Aru.

Van Garderen is putting on another layer of clothing as is just at the back of the main field, or rather, what's left of it. The break at the front is down to less than a dozen riders. Wellens is still present, Chavanel too.

Kwiatkowski has three men on the front at the moment and he'll be content with the situation as things stand but he has to deal with both Porte and Thomas on the final climb.

Up the road and Chavanel has attacked from the lead group. Edet has counter attacked and now he leads the race.

Yates, Izaguirre, and Chavanel and Wellens now too are all in the thick of it as the lead group starts to split on the climb. They have 1:20 on the field.

The lead group has re-formed and has 1km to go until the summit of the climb. Jack Bauer is at the back of the move, and hanging on.

Yates has made the cut in the lead group too and looks comfortable for now. Etixx carry on setting the pace for the peloton though as we see Cherel start to lose contact with the main field.

Tony Martin takes a turn on the front of the heavily reduced bunch a Chavanel takes the points on the top of the climb. Now a long, wet descent before the final climb and Chavanel takes the chance to take on some food.

Slagter is caught by the peloton with Tony Martin still driving the pace.

51km remaining from 180km

20km of wet descent and the gap to the break at 1:20.

Technical run-down made even harder by the wet conditions but Tony Martin is cautious around the corners as he takes the race leader towards the final climb of the stage.

Martin's work has seen the break's advantage drop down to 50 seconds in just 5km of racing. And the world champion has taken over and is diving down the descent.

Kwiatkowski is taking risks but he's creating gaps all over the road as riders push to their limits in a bid to remain in contention. The World champion has a teammate with him and there's a small group moving clear.

There are around half a dozen riders in the maillot jaune group and Porte and Thomas don't appear to be there.

It's three from Etixx and one from Lotto, I think that's Gallopin.

Team Sky are leading the chase on the descent but they've lost 22 seconds at this stage to the race leader and his mini-break of four.

40km remaining from 180km

So we have the early morning break, well around 12 riders left from it, then a group of four including the race leader at 35 seconds, and then a group including Porte and Thomas a further 22 seconds down. 40km to go.

Gallopin is being asked to take a few turns but he has a teammate up the road. Team Sky have three men on the front of the chase group, in which Etixx still have another two men. Porte and Thomas only have one man left though so one of them might have to sacrifice his chances of winning the race.

35km remaining from 180km

Just 35km to go and Kwiatkowski and his break are just 15 seconds off the front group.

Team Sky can't seem to keep the race leader under control on the descents and there's another long one ahead of the finish as Kwiatkowski's break make contact with the remnants of the early break.

And Etixx move straight to the front of the move and continue to drive. And Team Sky are in a spot of bother here because they're 50 seconds down on the leaders.

Wellens and Gallopin will work with Etixx now because they can move onto the podium at this rate.

33 seconds now for the Porte group as the leaders start the 6.5km climb.

Tony Martin is instantly dropped having worked his Etixx socks off.

32km remaining from 180km

The gap to the Porte group is at 28 seconds as Kwiatkowski's final teammate set the pace.

It's Thomas who is setting the pace for the second group on the road as up the road Lotto sit just off Kwiatkowski's wheel. Will they work or will they attack?

Simon Clarke hangs onto the back of the lead group as Valls sits on Thomas' wheel. The Welshman continues to tap out the pace, Fuglsang, Costa, and Porte all there. Van Garderen just near the back of the group.

As we see Clarke start to lose contact with the lead group.

Golas on the front but he's out the back and so Kwiatkowski has to set the pace. He's out of the saddle straight away and lifts the pace.

And here come Lotto, it's Gallopin setting the pace and the Frenchman has a small gap with 30km to go. Kwiatkowski has let him go.

He's 48 seconds down on GC so Kwiatkowski has to keep this move in check.

Kwiatkowski has Wellens on his wheel, Valgren and Chavanal are all that remain in the lead group. Porte's group is at 20 seconds with Fuglsang now setting the pace.

Van Garderen it seems has lost contact though as we see Gallopin pull ten seconds clear of the race leader.

Kwiatkowski can't afford to panic. If he can hold Gallopin and then close the gap on the descent he'll have two Lotto riders to work with. The gap is holding at ten seconds.

Porte's group is 15 seconds off the yellow jersey as Gallopin grits his teeth and pushes on alone at the front of the race.

Just Wellens and Valgren are left with Kwiatkowski and we have 29km to go.

We're 3.3km from the summit of the final climb as Porte makes it back to Kwiatkowski. Strong work from Team Sky, with a little help from Astana.

Valgren has attacked. He's no threat on GC but that's a big attack from the Tinkoff Saxo rider.

Gallopin has moved his lead out to 30 seconds though and with Kwiatkowski isolated Thomas has to come to the front and set the pace again.

Around a dozen riders left in the maillot jaune group with Thomas on the front. No Talansky and no van Garderen as Fuglsang lifts the pace.

And Porte has attacked with 27km to go.

Kwiatkowski is forced to let him go.

Spilak is on Porte's wheel but there are a number of riders still present. They catch Valgren as Kwiatkowski comes back too.

Kwiatkowski still has a small gap to close though as a number of riders have pushed clear of the yellow jersey. Porte, Fuglsang and Spilak are all there but the world champion is suffering.

Gallopin is meanwhile racing closer to the yellow jersey as Wellens now attacks Kwiatkowski.

The race leader is in trouble as Porte and Fuglsang trade turns on the front of their group.

Fuglsang, Porte, Thomas, Spilak, Valls and a few more riders crest the climb. Kwiatkowski is still not there and he's lost 40 seconds to Gallopin. The race is wide open as we start the descent.

25km remaining from 180km

The roads have dried out as Wellens has a rear wheel flat.

Gallopin still has 40 seconds on the yellow jersey so he's the race leader on the road as Thomas moves up and takes a turn. Valls and Costa are both in the group but they're refusing to work.

Kwiatkowski is taking some help from Valgren, which the world champion will be hugely thankful of. Gallopin has 30 seconds on the Porte group.

As we hear from race radio that Kwiatkowski is just ten seconds off the Porte group. However Lampre have started to work, finally, and that could change the situation.

Kwiatkowski moves to the front on the descent and he's racing to keep his lead. The gap is down to five seconds but Gallopin is the danger man, still 40 seconds clear.

There's a sprint coming up too, so if the Lotto rider takes that he'll pick up three more seconds.

Gallopin has 45 seconds now on the race leader with Porte's group sandwiched in between.

The effort from Lampre has had an effect with the Porte group moving out to 15 seconds of the race leader. Vichot is helping Kwiatkowski now.

Gallopin checks back but he's still got 45 seconds on the maillot jaune and a gap on the Porte group too.

Crash. Porte is down.

He lost it on a corner and he's hit the ground. He's back on his feet, back on his bike and chasing but he's alone.

18km remaining from 180km

Porte was just off the back of the group but lost his front wheel on a corner. He's going to have to make a huge effort to make contact with the Thomas group.

Gallopin though has no such problems on the descent but his lead is down to 35 seconds with 17km to go.

Thomas really has to work in that group though. He cant afford to wait for Porte with tomorrow's TT to come.

And Thomas is dropped to... it looks like he's fallen to because he's banging his bars into position as Porte goes passed him.

Not seen the Thomas crash but this is all coming apart for Team Sky right now.

And Kwiatkowski has brought back Thomas and Porte.

We've still 15km to go and Gallopin still leads with 35 seconds of an advantage. The Lotto rider takes the intermediate three seconds.

The chase are closing though with Valls, Costa, Fuglsang, Spilak close to the Lotto rider. Valgren leads the Team Sky/Kwiatkowski group.

So Gallopin is the current leader on the road but by just one second. It's all going to come down to the final time trial.

Kwiatkowski is leading on the descent as he looks to bring back the riders in front and put pressure on Porte and Thomas. The Welshman has drifted to the back of the group.

All three groups are just 30 seconds apart, each one separated by 15 seconds.

11km remaining from 180km

11km to go and Gallopin is full gas on the descent.

Kwiatkowski still on the front and driving the pace down into Nice but Gallopin is not losing any time. The Lotto rider has been highly impressive today.

Thomas comes through and takes a turn for the yellow jersey group but they're losing time to Gallopin, who is now clear by 35 seconds.

It's 43 seconds to Gallopin now with 7.4km to go. The Lotto rider is increasing his overall lead in the race.

Gallopin into the final 5km of racing and he has 45 seconds over the yellow jersey. The Fuglsang group is at 20 seconds.

Scrap that. The Lotto Soudal rider has found another five seconds over both chase groups.

50 seconds for Gallopin over the yellow jersey group as the Frenchman dips into the final 2km of the stage.

Just 1km to go for Gallopin who will take the race lead and the stage.

He's along the seafront and heading to the line. A memorable day for the rider and French cycling as Gallopin pushes for every second before raising his arms.

Valls is now leading the chase but the clock has already started. Spilak has opened the sprint and he takes it from Costa.

Here comes the yellow jersey group at 59 seconds. Interestingly Kwiatkowski sat up and he might start the TT after Porte as a result.

Spilak celebrated as he went over the line as if he had won. He'd done little work in the final run-into the line so a little bit of karma there.

Gallopin has a 36 second lead in GC but we await final confirmation on that.

Kwiatkowski did indeed sit up and is a second down on Porte now and in third overall. An interesting tactic with the Pole set to start his TT after the Team Sky rider tomorrow.

Two years ago Gallopin lost almost two minutes to Porte in the final time trial on the Col d’Èze but this is a certainly a different Gallopin and the Frenchman showed his form today.

Porte Vs Gallopin in TTs: 13-4. Last time on Col d'Eze: Porte 1st, Gallopin 36th @ 1'56".

@friebos Sat, 14th Mar 2015 15:56:18

Stages like today's are why I like Paris-Nice.

@EdwardPickering Sat, 14th Mar 2015 15:56:43

1 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal
2 Simon Spliak (Svk) Katusha
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
5 Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida
6 Michael Valgren (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo
7 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
9 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
10 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
 

General classification
1 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal 28:49:42
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 00:00:36
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx-QuickStep 00:00:37
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:38
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
6 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 00:00:42
7 Simon Spliak (Svk) Katusha 00:00:53
8 Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida 00:01:01
9 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar) 00:01:19
10 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal 00:02:00

A memorable stage here in Paris Nice and we'll be back tomorrow for the final stage. You can find our report, results and photos, right here. Thanks for joining us.

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