Hello and welcome back to our live coverage of Paris-Nice. Today we tackle 177 km from Nice to Madone d’Utelle.
10 riders to watch video
Welcome to day 6 of the 2016 Paris-Nice. The peloton has made its way to the Sea, but now they will have to turn their backs on that and head up into the mountains. There are seven ranked climbs today!
The official start will be at 12:10, so in about 18 minutes.
The first climb comes only 10 km into the stage, the Cat.2 Cote de Gattieres. In all there are five Cat. 2 climbs, and two Cat. 1, including the finishing La Madone d’Utelle.
This is really going to be a tough one – especially for the sprinters. It looks like there is basically no flat today, but rather a constant up and down.
What happened yesterday? Check it out here.
We assume the race has started but are still awaiting official word.
They are indeed underway. 157 riders took off at 12:12.
157 riders today means no one has dropped out overnight.
Here is the complete list of climbs for today, thanks to letour.com
Km 10.0 - Côte de Gattières , cat. 2
Km 50.0 - Côte de Coursegoules , cat. 2
Km 91.0 - Côte de la Sigale , cat. 2
Km 106.5 - Côte d'Ascros , cat. 1
Km 145.0 - Côte de Levens , cat. 2
Km 157.0 - Côte Duranus , cat. 2
Km 177.0 - La Madone d'Utelle, cat. 1
The field has already started up the first climb of the day.
8.5 km done, on the first climb, and the peloton is all together.
Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) is struggling already. He is in fourth place in GC and was dropped on the first climb, but has fought his way back up. That doesn't necessarily bode well for him.
Here is a look at the top five in GC going into this penultimate stage:
1 Michael Matthews (OGE)
2 Alexy Lutsenko (AST) 0:06
3 Tom Dumoulin (TGA) 0:18
4 Patrick Bevin (PCT) 0:23
5 Ion Izaguirre (MOV) 0:23
Giant-Alpecin's Ji Cheng has abandoned. The Chinese rider was last in GC, nearly one hour down.
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) takes the first mountain points today, followed by Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ) and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie).
15 riders, including Chavanel, have a 10 second gap now.
That break group didn't make it, all back together again.
There are still 157 riders in the race. Yesterday we saw seven riders DNF, including sprinter Andre Greipel, who is still recovering from a broken rib, and Fränk Schleck, who crashed.
Chavanel seems determined to do something today. He attacked again but has been caught.
Now 7 riders have built up a 45 second gap. Let's see if they can get away!
151km remaining from 177km
And the lucky seven are: Duchesne (Direct Energie), Vachon (Fortuneo), Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), Gautier (AG2R), Rast (Trek), Siskevicius (Delko Marseilles) and Grmay (Lampre).
The gap is now 2:25, so it looks like this will be our group today!
Cannondale's Andrew Tolansky has gone after the break group, and is now 30 seconds behind them.
This year the elite riders will be able to compete in the European road championships for the first tie this year. Some big names have already said they plan to take part.
141km remaining from 177km
Talansky has made his way all the way up to the front and 36 km into the stage he is in the break group.
136km remaining from 177km
They have covered about 41km in the first hour today.
De Gendt has jumped from the peloton and is 10 seconds ahead of them, but still 1:40 behind the lead group.
Things are staying close so far in GC. In fact, the top 32 riders are all within one minute of the leader.
The riders are on their way up the day's second climb, the cat 2 Côte de Coursegoules .
131km remaining from 177km
De Gendt has moved up to within 20 seconds of the lead group.
We now have nine in the lead group, as De Gendt has joined them.
Tinkoff is controlling the peloton, looking to keep things in place for Alberto Contador. At the other end of that group, sprinter Marcel Kittel is beginning to struggle already.
Just a reminder, here is our break group: Duchesne (Direct Energie), Vachon (Fortuneo), Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), Gautier (AG2R), Rast (Trek), Siskevicius (Delko Marseilles), Grmay (Lampre) De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), and Talansky (Cannondale)
Unsurprisingly, Matthews leads in the point ranking. He has 55 points and is thus ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (33), Alexander Kristoff (26), Ben Swift (22) and Alexey Lutsenko (18).
Lars Boom has become the third rider today to abandon.
We think that De Gendt has his eye on the polka-dot jersey. He took the second climb as well, ahead of Duchesne, Siskevicius, Grmay and Gautier.
124km remaining from 177km
Only 2.5 km after that summit, we had the first intermediate sprint of the day. Honours went to Terpstra, De Gendt and Duchesne.
Speaking of the mountain jersey, we do expect to see it change shoulders today. Coming into this stage, we had Jesus Herrada (Movistar) wearing the polka dots, followed by Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Evaldas Siskevicius (Deklo Marseille Provence KTM) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie).
Astana goes into the day atop the team rankings, ahead of Movistar, Cannondale, Orica-Green Edge and Sky.
Happy Birthday today to Dimension Data’s “off-road specialist” Nathan Haas. He made a rather dramatic showing the other day when he crashed into a field. He did not continue the race but fortunately was not seriously injured.
107km remaining from 177km
After 70 km, the gap is 1:30.
By the way, Duchesne is now in the virtual yellow jersey.
Stage 4 saw a number of riders failing to sign on at the start of the race, with all of them getting a 100 CHF fine. Amonst them were Tom Boonen and Alexander Kristoff.
100km remaining from 177km
In the first two hours the riders have covered 77 km.
Matthews has shown that he is not only a fast sprinter, but can also climb. He thinks he has good chances to hold on to his lead and win the overall title tomorrow.
This Queen Stage is the only chance for the GC favourites to show their stuff. What will Richie Porte, Alberto Contador, Tom Dumoulin and Geraint Thomas do? Or be able to do? We expect some fireworks in the finale on the way up that final climb.
The field is on its way up the day's third climb. Siskevicius has dropped out of the lead group, and the sprinters, including Bouhanni and Kittel are falling out of the peloton.
The third climb is the cat. 2 Côte de la Sigale It will be immediately followed by the feeding zone.
Rast is the next to drop back from the lead group.
The entire Tinkoff team has moved to the front of the peloton. We think that Contador is looking to take the win today....
At the Cote de la Sigale, it was once again De Gendt with the most points, ahead of Duchese, Terpstra, Vachon and Talansky. The peloton is now at 2:05
Gregory Rast has caught up with the break group again on the descent.
Duchesne has gathered enough points today to put himself into the (virtual) polka-dot jersey.
There is lots of racing going on today! Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Drenthe mens and womens -- something for everyone!
The riders have all grabbed their feed bags and we hope that they have eaten enough to get them through the rest of the stage. They are now starting up the Cat. 1 Cote d'ascros, with another cat. 2 and the closing cat. 1 to come!
Rast has once again lost contact with the break group. More and more riders are falling out of the peloton, too, including Voeckler and Kristoff. Tinker is setting such a blistering pace that there are only about 60 riders left in the group.
74km remaining from 177km
Rast is in fact back in the peloton now. With 74 km to go, the gap has fallen to 1:05.
No surprise here, De Gendt once again won this mountain ranking. He finished ahead of Duchesne, Terpstra, Talansky, Gautier, Vachon and Grmay
The seven riders are still in the lead, but only 1:10 ahead of the Tinkoff-driven field.
The names again: Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie), Florian Vachon (Fortuneo), Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), Cyril Gautier (AG2R), Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale)
Duchesne still leads the virtual mountain rankings, and De Gendt is now second. This will be a close one!
60km remaining from 177km
60 km and two more climbs to go!
Tinkoff is really turning on the gas on these mountain roads!
55km remaining from 177km
The gap is now at one minute with 55 km to go.
Fortunately we have good weather today! Lots of sunshine.
Laengen (IAM) has abandoned.
This is a very long descent, with lots of twists and turns. No one is sparing many risks.
Talansky crashed on the descent but is ok. We now have only 3 riders in the lead, let's go grab those names....
And now we hear that Talansky has hurt his wrist and is with the doctors.
45km remaining from 177km
Terpstra, Vachon and Duchesne at the front, with Gautier, De Gendt and Grmay 10 seconds back. Field at 0:47.
40km remaining from 177km
40 km to go, and still three climbs! Two cat. 2 and then the closing cat. 1.
They have reached the bottom of the descent and have a rare stretch of flat road at the moment.
Michael Matthews is still in the peloton! Orica-GreenEdge is keeping him close behind Tinkoff.
We now have only two leaders, as Terpstra has just been dropped. The field is at 1:03
Sadly, Talansky has had to abandon after that crash.
Duchesne now alone in the lead.
34km remaining from 177km
We are down to only five Tinkoff riders at the head of the field, 1:12 behind Duchesne.
All or most of those who were formerly in the lead group have now re-joined the peloton.
They are now all wending their way up the cat. 2 Cote de Levens. More and more riders are falling off the back.
Duchesne is still gamely hanging on to his lead, about 57 seconds with 31.3 km to go.
He takes the points at this climb, and that ought to be enough to assure him the jersey.
It turns out he just jumped to grab some bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint and then sat up to wait for the field.
Of course Duchesne took the top sprint points. He has picked up quite a few bonus seconds today, too.
The sprint was: Duchesne, Contador, Boswell.
Sky has now jumped to the head of the field and taken control away from Tinkoff.
23km remaining from 177km
23km to go and only 32 seconds for Duchesne.
Duchesne still has 24 seconds as he nears the top of the penultimate climb.
And yellow jersey Michael Matthews is now falling back and losing contact.
Still, he has done a magnificent job to hold the lead for so many stages and to stay with the climbers so long today.
Duchesne takes this mountain ranking but the shacking field is not far behind.
Matthews crosses the mountain ranking 45 seconds down.
The mountain points went to Duchesne, Roche, Boswell and Thomas.
Duchesne has finally been caught by the Sky train
It's a small group now -- maybe 20 to 30.
13km remaining from 177km
13 km to go and the favourites group is staying together. Will we see attacks, and when?
Looks like Sky hs more riders in this first group than Tinkoff does. Did Tinkoff burn out their helpers too early?
With both Matthews and Lutsenko dropped, that puts Dumoulin in the virtual leaders jersey. And he is in this lead group.
This closing climb is 15.3 km long with an average gradient of 5.7%.
And riders are being dropped off the back with regularity.
They are now on a 7% section.
10km remaining from 177km
10 km to go (all uphill) -- and Contador attacks! Sky is not going to let him go thuough, as Porte responds.
This action has torn apart the small field.
Contador has Majka with him. They lead a small group of 15 or so, with at least 3 Sky riders in it.
Porte of course is no longer with Sky, we know thtat.... He is with BMC and is upon in the mix along with Contador, Dumoulin and Thomas.
7km remaining from 177km
7 km left to climb and no change in the action.
Dumoulin and Porte are on their own, while Contador and Thomas both have teammates with them.
Contador picks up the pace again -- but they all follow.
Contador goes! and this time the others can#t respond!
Porte had got caught out but is now back with Thomas and several other riders, in pursuit of Contador.
Porte, Thomas et al have caught Contador. Dumoulin in the chasing group.
#Contador goes again, with Thomas right behind him.
A group of five in the led with 3 km to go: Contador, Thomas, Henao, Porte and Zakurin. But the rest not far back.
The Dumoulin group is maybe 10 seconds back.
With 2 km to go, Bardet tries to work his way up to the lead group.
The Dumoulin group is still not terribly far back.
Porte attacks and moves to the head of the group. 1 km left!
These 5 are going all out now.
Porte, Thomas, Contador, ZAkurin -- who will have the best legs in the end?
And Contador moves to the head of the group. Thomas doesn#t like that and goes, with Porte right behind him.
Not Porte, but Zakarin! the Russian is able to outsprint Thomas for the win, with Contador third and Porte fourths.
Porte will have lost a few seconds on the others.
Dumoulin did not finish i the top ten, so we don't know what the GC will be.
Our top ten on the stage today
1 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team
5 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge
7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida
8 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
It looks like our new GC will have Thomas ahead of Contador and Zakarin.
General classification after stage 6
1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 24:10:26
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:15
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:20
We'll have pictures from today's stage in very soon, you will be able to find those here along with our report and full results very soon.
Zakarin steps onto the podium to collect his prize
That is it from Paris-Nice today, join us again tomorrow for the final stage and stick with Cyclingnews.com for all the reaction from today's stage.
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