Paris-Nice: Sam Bennett wins stage 6

He had it, he had it, but then he lost it: Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), head down and a clean pair of wheels with just metres before the finish line, heaved a sigh of disappointment as Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) lunged through on his right and snatched the Paris-Nice stage 6 victory out from under him. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) was third.

Groupama-FDJ had seemingly timed their well-honed lead-out perfectly, launching Demare with just 150m to go. But into a brisk headwind, Bennett, who followed wheels and even had to stop pedalling as he encountered traffic as the sprint wound up, was able to use the draft of a fading Trentin to slingshot past Demare at the line.

Just 40 riders contested the sprint after a quick succession of short climbs and several crashes splintered the peloton in the final 40km. Even Bennett said he didn't think he was going to make it for the sprint on the second to last climb.

"I came around, and the guys were doing a fantastic job in the final. Actually, in the last 5km, my legs were really good so I knew I didn't have to panic with regards to positioning, just follow my teammates as best as possible.

"I thought the gap nearly closed on me in the final, but it opened again and I was able to kick really hard. I was really happy and I just want to thank the team again.

"I've been working really hard this winter with my first target being Milan-San Remo, so everything's on track."

Race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) hoped to enjoy an easy day before the big mountain stages on the weekend but instead had to battle through crosswinds and aggressive moves by Astana to deliver Luis Leon Sanchez to the bonus sprints.

Ion Izagirre successfully led Sanchez out for the first intermediate sprint bonus and tried to go again in the second sprint with 4km to go. Kwiatkowski smartly marked that move and powered past to pad his lead.

Kwiatkowski now leads Paris-Nice by teammate Egan Bernal by 18 seconds, with Sanchez third at 22 seconds.

"That was a really hectic stage. Straight from the start, there were some attacks in the crosswinds, and the bunch was really nervous throughout the whole stage. Then of course when you've got riders like Matteo Trentin and all the strong sprinters in the race, they want to dig deep in the climbs and drop the other ones," the race leader said.

"We had some really technical descents, and the bunch was splitting all over the place and there were plenty of crashes.

"I was hoping for an easier day, in terms of even sprinting in the bonuses. (Sanchez) went crazy for those three seconds, but I was trying to stay on his wheel on the last one and I was able to out-sprint him for those three seconds. So I'm happy for another three seconds, but tomorrow it will be way harder to gain or lose those seconds."

Stage 7 of Paris-Nice, the queen stage, covers 181.5km from Nice with five categorized ascents on the way to the final ascent of the Col de Turini, a category 1 climb that's 14.9km long and has an average 7.3 per cent grade.

"It's going to be a big challenge for me to defend the title, but we are really motivated, together with Egan (Bernal) and having both of us in the front of the race it's going to be nice to play."

How it unfolded

The warm weather continued to welcome the peloton in the south of France, with 176.5km from Peynier to Brignoles, but much to the peloton's chagrin, the wind was back.

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) kicked off the attacking in the first kilometre, and he was soon joined by Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida), Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic) and Mauro Finetto (Delko-Marseille-Provence) to form the day's main breakaway.

It was a cheeky move by Calmejane, the move's highest-placed rider, only 2:15 behind race leader Michal Kwiatkowski, so Team Sky kept the gap at a manageable level, but the peloton, buffeted by strong crosswinds in the early kilometres, began to fracture.

The scrambling to get back on terms with the front of the bunch meant that the leaders' gap was at only a minute. Garcia sat up, and finally, Calmejane relented and allowed the remaining three riders to soldier on without as much fear from the bunch.

With no real threat up the road, the peloton reformed and eased up slightly, allowing the trio to gain more time since Kirsch was the best-placed at 15:32.

A crash at the midpoint of the race took down Quentin Pacher (Vital Concept) and Lawson Craddock (EF Education First). Fran Ventoso (CCC Team) also went down and was forced to abandon the race.

The nerves in the bunch resulted in an uptick in pace, with the escapees holding just one minute and falling on the peloton with 70km to go.

By the time they reached the Côte de la Sainte-Baume, the day's first classified climb - a 5km, 5 per cent category 2 ascent - the trio were within arm's reach of the peloton.

Deceuninck-Quickstep led on the sinuous descent, slashing the trio's advantage and eventually mowing them down with 48.5km, two more short climbs and two intermediate sprints left to go. The time bonuses were clearly of interest for Bob Jungels, sitting fifth at 57 seconds.

The Côte de Mazaugues, a short, sharp category 3 climb, split the peloton in intense crosswinds, with the points leader Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) heading out the back and mountains leader Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) saving his legs for another day's assault on the polka dot jersey.

Rather than Jungels, it was Luis Leon Sanchez who was led out for the first sprint by Astana teammate Ion Izagirre. Sitting 24 seconds down at the start of the day, Sanchez whittled three seconds off that gap with the sprint bonus before going back to the peloton. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) picked up the final bonus second.

Team Sky's Luke Rowe led the peloton over the Côte de Sainte-Philomène with 15km to go as the bunch resigned themselves to a bunch sprint but a crash from Rafael Valls (Movistar) and Jan Bakelants (Sunweb) caused a split in the peloton.

The injection of adrenaline upped the pace, with Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) forced to scramble to get back into the front group.

With Arnaud Demare making it back to the front, Groupama-FDJ began battling with Deceuninck-Quickstep for control of the pace-setting. With an uphill gambler's sprint coming with just 4km to go, Sanchez leapt to the front again with Izagirre but was closely marked by Kwiatkowski himself, who powered past to steal the three-second bonus.

Behind, there was another crash with Tao Geoghegan Hart (Sky) being caught up with Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) before Groupama-FDJ once more took control of the lead-out.

It looked like a perfect set-up for Demare, but he hit out just a bit too early, and a patient Bennett, tucked tight on his wheel, exploded past the Frenchman just before the line to snatch the stage victory.

Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe4:12:35
2Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 1 - Cell 2
3Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 2 - Cell 2
4John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-SegafredoRow 3 - Cell 2
5Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 4 - Cell 2
6Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 5 - Cell 2
7Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 6 - Cell 2
8Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 7 - Cell 2
9Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 8 - Cell 2
10Egan Bernal (Col) Team SkyRow 9 - Cell 2
11Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 10 - Cell 2
12Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 11 - Cell 2
13Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 13 - Cell 2
15Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-HansgroheRow 15 - Cell 2
17Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 16 - Cell 2
18Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 17 - Cell 2
19Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-MeridaRow 18 - Cell 2
20Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 19 - Cell 2
21Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team SkyRow 20 - Cell 2
22Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team SunwebRow 21 - Cell 2
23Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Cyril Gautier (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 23 - Cell 2
25Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 24 - Cell 2
26Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 25 - Cell 2
27Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 26 - Cell 2
28Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJRow 27 - Cell 2
29Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 28 - Cell 2
30Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 29 - Cell 2
31Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 30 - Cell 2
32Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 31 - Cell 2
33Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 33 - Cell 2
35George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 34 - Cell 2
36Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 35 - Cell 2
37Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 37 - Cell 2
39Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-ScottRow 38 - Cell 2
40Julien El Fares (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 39 - Cell 2
41Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 40 - Cell 2
42Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:00:20
43Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:00:22
44Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:00:35
45Sergio Henao (Col) UAE Team EmiratesRow 44 - Cell 2
46Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:42
47Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 46 - Cell 2
48Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Kevin Reza (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 48 - Cell 2
50Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ0:00:52
51Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:01:03
52Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott0:01:11
53Sebastian Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 52 - Cell 2
54Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin0:01:15
55Jhonatan Manuel Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Team Sky0:02:28
56Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal0:02:34
57Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:03:08
58Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team SkyRow 57 - Cell 2
59Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:03:28
60Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:05:41
61Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension DataRow 60 - Cell 2
62Romain Combaud (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 61 - Cell 2
63Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 62 - Cell 2
64Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 63 - Cell 2
65Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 64 - Cell 2
66Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 66 - Cell 2
68Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-AlpecinRow 67 - Cell 2
69Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 68 - Cell 2
70Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 69 - Cell 2
71Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 70 - Cell 2
72Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
73Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-SegafredoRow 72 - Cell 2
74Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-ScottRow 73 - Cell 2
75Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La MondialeRow 74 - Cell 2
76Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 75 - Cell 2
77Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 76 - Cell 2
78Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education FirstRow 77 - Cell 2
79Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 78 - Cell 2
80Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 79 - Cell 2
81Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 80 - Cell 2
82Tejay Van Garderen (USA) EF Education FirstRow 81 - Cell 2
83Victor De La Parte (Spa) CCC TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
85Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Ivan Sosa (Col) Team SkyRow 85 - Cell 2
87Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 86 - Cell 2
88Jesper Hansen (Den) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 87 - Cell 2
89Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 88 - Cell 2
90Laurens ten Dam (Ned) CCC TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
91Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 90 - Cell 2
92Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 91 - Cell 2
93Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 92 - Cell 2
94André Greipel (Ger) Arkéa SamsicRow 93 - Cell 2
95Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 94 - Cell 2
96Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 95 - Cell 2
97Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-AlpecinRow 96 - Cell 2
98Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 97 - Cell 2
99Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 98 - Cell 2
100Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 99 - Cell 2
101Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 100 - Cell 2
102Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-MeridaRow 101 - Cell 2
103Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:07:57
104Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 103 - Cell 2
105Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 104 - Cell 2
106Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension DataRow 105 - Cell 2
107Patrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 106 - Cell 2
108Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 107 - Cell 2
109Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 108 - Cell 2
110Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 109 - Cell 2
111Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 110 - Cell 2
112Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Direct EnergieRow 111 - Cell 2
113Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education FirstRow 112 - Cell 2
114Daniel McLay (GBr) EF Education FirstRow 113 - Cell 2
115Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education FirstRow 114 - Cell 2
116Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJRow 115 - Cell 2
117Jan Bakelants (Bel) Team SunwebRow 116 - Cell 2
118Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb0:10:36
119Casper Pedersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 118 - Cell 2
120Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:10:38
121Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC TeamRow 121 - Cell 2
123Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 122 - Cell 2
124Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension DataRow 123 - Cell 2
125Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 124 - Cell 2
126Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 125 - Cell 2
127Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team EmiratesRow 126 - Cell 2
128Bram Welten (Ned) Arkéa SamsicRow 127 - Cell 2
129Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 128 - Cell 2
130Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 129 - Cell 2
131Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 130 - Cell 2
132Will Barta (USA) CCC TeamRow 131 - Cell 2
133Arthur Vichot (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelRow 132 - Cell 2
134Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar TeamRow 133 - Cell 2
135Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 134 - Cell 2
136Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct EnergieRow 135 - Cell 2
137Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 136 - Cell 2
138Amael Moinard (Fra) Arkéa SamsicRow 137 - Cell 2
139Laurent Pichon (Fra) Arkéa SamsicRow 138 - Cell 2
140Elie Gesbert (Fra) Arkéa SamsicRow 139 - Cell 2
141Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 140 - Cell 2
142Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 141 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - 146.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team3pts
2Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - 172.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky3pts
2Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Finish Line - 176.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe15pts
2Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott9Row 2 - Cell 3
4John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky1Row 9 - Cell 3
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KOM 1 - 114km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko Marseille Provence KTM7pts
2Laurent Pichon (Fra) Arkéa Samsic5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 4 - Cell 3
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KOM 2 - 131km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida4pts
2Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky1Row 2 - Cell 3
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KOM 3 - 159km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott7pts
2Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Best Young Rider
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie4:12:35
2Egan Bernal (Col) Team SkyRow 1 - Cell 2
3Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 3 - Cell 2
5Jhonatan Manuel Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Team Sky4:15:03
6Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal4:15:09
7Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo4:15:43
8Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team SkyRow 7 - Cell 2
9Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data4:18:16
10Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro TeamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 10 - Cell 2
12Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education FirstRow 11 - Cell 2
13Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Ivan Sosa (Col) Team SkyRow 13 - Cell 2
15Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 14 - Cell 2
16Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 15 - Cell 2
17Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 16 - Cell 2
18Patrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel4:20:32
19Casper Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb4:23:11
20Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team4:23:13
21Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 20 - Cell 2
22Bram Welten (Ned) Arkéa SamsicRow 21 - Cell 2
23Will Barta (USA) CCC TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Elie Gesbert (Fra) Arkéa SamsicRow 23 - Cell 2
25Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 24 - Cell 2
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Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bora-Hansgrohe12:37:45
2Groupama-FdjRow 1 - Cell 2
3Bahrain-MeridaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Ag2R La MondialeRow 3 - Cell 2
5Mitchelton-ScottRow 4 - Cell 2
6Deceuninck-Quick-StepRow 5 - Cell 2
7Lotto Soudal12:38:05
8Astana Pro Team12:38:20
9Vital Concept-B&B Hotels12:38:27
10Team SkyRow 9 - Cell 2
11Movistar TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Uae Team Emirates12:38:42
13Direct Energie12:43:26
14Team Jumbo-VismaRow 13 - Cell 2
15Team Katusha Alpecin12:44:41
16Trek-Segafredo12:46:34
17Cofidis, Solutions Credits12:46:54
18Delko Marseille Provence12:54:04
19Ccc Team12:54:48
20Team Sunweb12:56:18
21Team Dimension Data12:57:04
22Ef Education FirstRow 21 - Cell 2
23Team Arkea-Samsic13:04:42
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General Classification after stage 6
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky21:35:36
2Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky0:00:18
3Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:00:22
4Wilco Kelderma