Rest Day 1: -
Stage 1 - Philippe Gilbert, despite being the obvious and heavy favourite for the uphill finish on the opening stage, made it look easy by taking the sprint and first maillot jaune.
Unlike previous Tours when a prologue or time trial provided early selections for the contenders, on the first road stage starting on the Passage du Gois and ending on the Mont des Alouettes an uphill finish, crashes and decision by the race judges were the main factors in the general classification. Alberto Contador crashed outside the protected 3km marker and lost 1:20 on the stage - but, he was actually closer to 40 seconds behind when his group was delayed by a second crash inside the 3km banner. The judges gave him the actual time gap as he crossed the line, despite protests by his team.
Stage 2 - The time gaps in the team time trial at Les Essarts were small, but the Garmin-Cervelo team eked out its first Tour de France victory by just four seconds over BMC, Sky and Leopard Trek. It put Thor Hushovd, third on stage 1, into the yellow jersey for double success on the stage. The team was so pleased they hoisted manager Jonathan Vaughters onto their shoulders on the podium.
Contador sacrificed a further 24 seconds on his rivals, and was now 1:42 behind Hushovd on GC.
Stage 3 - July 4 and Garmin-Cevelo's American sprinter Tyler Farrar prevails for his first ever Tour de France stage victory and pays tribute to fallen best friend Wouter Weylandt. Meantime, the seemingly indestructible HTC-Highroad leadout train came unstuck, with Mark Cavendish having to settle for fifth-best across the finish line.
The battle for the green jersey began to heat up with Cavendish and Hushovd disqualified from the stage's intermediate sprint with judges deeming the Norwegian deviated from his racing line, while Cavendish clearly used his head either to keep upright or fend off Hushovd. Movistar's Jose Joaquin Rojas would take the green jersey from Gilbert.
Stage 4 - Another uphill finish on the Mûr-de-Bretagne was designed for Gilbert, but instead it was Cadel Evans who demonstrated his power to take a photo finish win over Contador. The Australian fell shy of the yellow jersey as Hushovd gutted out a sixth place finish in the midst of a group of scrawny climbers nearly half his size.
Of the GC contenders, Fränk Schleck survived the charge to the line however his brother Andy lost a vital eight seconds to his rivals. Sky's Bradley Wiggins lost six seconds to be 10 seconds back, but moved up four spots to sixth on GC.
Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jurgen Van de Walle became the first rider to abandon the 2011 race, succumbing to injuries sustained in his stage 1 crash.
Stage 5 - Cavendish claimed his 16th Tour de France stage win with the Manxman blitzing his way to the front of a pack which contained Gilbert, Rojas and rival Andre Greipel.
On a somewhat nervous and messy day in the peloton on the roads of Brittany, crashes littered the 158 kilometre parcours with the most serious incident involving Contador, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack), the latter of which sustained a gruesome head injury, concussion and a broken left collarbone. Disturbingly, Saxo Bank's Danish champion Nicki Sørensen was collected by a motorcycle carrying a photographer that was moving ahead of the peloton.
Stage 6 - There was no escaping the drama, as Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed Sky's first stage win of the 2011 Tour. In a thrilling sprint finish, the Norwegian pipped Australia's Matt Goss by half a wheel on the longest stage of this year's event.
Of the GC contenders, Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) was the big loser on the wet and slippery roads leading to Lisieux, tumbling down the order and falling 1:05 in arrears of the race favourites to sit 1:23 behind yellow jersey wearer Hushovd.
Wiggins was brought down by a crash with 35km to go, leaving the Sky man with a broken collarbone. The same incident, brought a disturbing end to Chris Horner's Tour, although he somehow rode on suffering from concussion and a broken nose after finding himself in a roadside ditch.
Movistar's Rui Costa, who had joined eight others on the attack after only 8km of racing and hung to win by just 12 seconds ahead of Gilbert, who had jumped away from the yellow jersey group that was rapidly closing in behind the 24-year-old Portuguese rider.
Gesink, despite holding on to the Tour's white jersey lead, lost 1:08 to the GC contenders while despite several attacks, Contador was unable to dislodge the Schlecks and Evans on the climb to the finish at Super-Besse.
Two major crashes provided blips on the stage radar, the first at the halfway mark bringing an end to the Tour for GC hopefuls Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), who suffered a fractured right femur and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) who broke his shoulder blade. Garmin-Cervelo's David Zibriskie fractured his wrist in the same accident.
While the day's break moved ahead, two of its riders Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland came to grief when they were hit by a car from French Television. Hoogerland had only just secured the polka dot jersey. Both are set to continue their race when the Tour resumes on Tuesday. Here's how some of the contenders sit, heading into the Tour's second week:
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 38:35:11
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 02:26
4 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 02:29
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 02:37
6 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 02:38
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 02:43
11 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 03:36
12 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 03:37
13 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 03:45
15 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 04:01
16 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 04:07
19 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 04:53
20 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 05:01
31 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ 05:43
36 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 07:16
55 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 15:16
60 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 18:09
76 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 25:21
115 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 40:31
126 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 44:16
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