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Tour de France 2011: Stage 6

At 226.5km, stage six from Dinan to Lisieux is he longest day on this year's Tour, taking the peloton to Normandy. A bumpy parcours could again see the sprinters prevail, but strong puncheurs of the likes of Gilbert or Chavanel will sense a perfect opportunity.

Bonjour! Welcome back to the Tour de France, the greatest cycling race on earth. Today, the bunch will leave Brittany to Normandy on a race route that involves two Cat. 3 and one Cat. 4 climbs before a final climb 1.5kms from the finish line. Anything can happen! If the sprinters teams get it right, they should be able to reel in any leftover escapists, but on this kind of profile, audacious attackers also get a perfect chance to snatch a victory.

Right now, the riders are still signing in on the podium protocolaire in Dinan. The peloton will get on the course at 11.45 and the official start will be given at 11.55.

The weather forecast for today doesn't sound good. Rainshowers and possible thunderstorms, with wind gusts coming from the southwest, will provide another nasty day in the saddle for our Tour de France peloton.

We have at least two non-starters today: Janez Brajkovic (Radioshack) and Christophe Kern (Europcar). Brajkovic crashed out of the race yesterday, breaking his collarbone, and Kern couldn't continue because of ongoing knee pain.

The riders have started! Making their way out of Dinan eastwards.

One more rider hasn't come to the start line: Esukaltel's Ivan Velasco. He also crashed in yesterday's stage and was diagnosed with a fractured collarbone.

220km remaining from 226km

The bunch is still altogether but racing fast. The first part of the route is flat. The stage gets hillier after 50 kilometres.

Lieuwe Westra of Vacasoleil has opened a gap. We hope he doesnt stay all by himself for the longest stage of this Tour!

He doesn't FDJ's Anthony Roux has joined him, with two other riders also trying to bridge up: Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma) and Johnny Hoogerland also from Vacansoleil.

214km remaining from 226km

Cofidis' Leonardo Duque has also joined the breakaway, as well as Adriano Malori from Lampre. They are thus currently six riders, and they have about one minute over the bunch.

Malori hsn't quite got to the leading group yet, he is struggling between the breakaway and the peloton, which doesn't seem happy yet and continues to chase.

Erratum from race radio: Roelandts is not amongst the leaders. They are five riders.

Another two have now attacked out of the bunch.

It is Roelandts, alongside Fabrice Jeandesboz from Saur-Sojasun. They are trying hard to catch up.

206km remaining from 226km

Roux, Duque, Malori, Westra and Hoogerland have an advantage of 50" on Roelandts and Jeandesboz, and a total of 1'15" on the bunch.

Ah - Roelandts and Jeandesboz did not make it, they have been caught.

But the breakaway is not certain to get through. The field is again coming closer at 55".

At km 24, a counter-attack has formed to try and brisge up to the leaders. They are four riders and one of them is French champion Sylvain Chavanel from Quickstep.

They haven't succeeded, and another attempt by Chavanel's teammate Pineau as well as Euskaltel's Izagirre has also been crished by the bunch, still unhappy with today's break.

To have two riders of the same team (Vacansoleil) in a break is indeed a threat. Moreover, Anthony Roux is only 2.25 minutes back on the lead on GC.

190km remaining from 226km

The leaders' advantage has grown to 1'40".

183km remaining from 226km

Mikhail Ignatiev from Katusha also tried to get to the front, but in vain. It seems the quuinet is being granted some more distance as the bunch has lowered the pace.

The race was very fast, around 50 km/h for the first 30 km. The gap to the leaders is now almost at 3 minutes.

Anthony Roux from FDJ is now the millot jaune virtuel! But perhaps not at the end of the stage...

It's the Tour's longest stage this year. In 2010, Mark Cavendish won that edition's longest day, stage six of 227.5km, in a sprint in front of Tyler Farrar and Robbie McEwen. This time, it might be more difficult because of a more complicated parcours.

The breakaway's advantage is growing rapidly now, up to 5'45" at km 50.

They will start tackling some hillier terrain soon, with the Côte de Saint-Michel de Montjoie coming up at km 99.

With a rather strong wind coming from southwest, the riders are getting a little help but this beginning of stage had been particularly fast. The peloton covered 49.4 km in the first hour of racing!

They have passed the Mont St Michel now, one of Brittany's most well-known tourist attractions.

Solid breakaway: Johnny Hoogerland, Lieuwe Westra, Anthony Roux and Adriano Malori are all excellent rouleurs. Leonardo Duque is odd man out

@inrng Thu, 7th Jul 2011 12:02:46

We agree, but Duque may target some KOM points and could take advantage of his strong break mates on the day's climbs.

With three KOM summits on offer, the polkadot jersey is up for grabs today, and the winner will have the luxury of wearing it for two days in a row, too, because there won't be any mountain points on tomorrow stage at all.
 

166km remaining from 226km

The gap is now up to 7'25". The five leaders are up for a looong day in the saddle.

Some team will have to take up responsibility soon if they don't want to give away the stage to the leaders.

HTC and Garmin should be starting a chase any time.

The teams in the peloton seem to calling each others bluff today.

The unwritten rules of the peloton say that the race leader's team should lead the chase for at least the first half of the stage. The the teams interested in the stage victory should take over.

However the uphill finish means the sprinters teams are not keen to work for a stage they might not win.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) has also stoped for a mechanical problem and so his team will prefer to slow the peloton, rather than lead any chase.

of the riders in the break, Anthony Roux (FDJ) is the best palced rider overall. He is 50th, 2:25 behinf Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) and so is the virtual race leader.

As ever, the Tour de France sees lots of negotiating going on with teams and riders for 2012. 

Lefevere says Thomas Dekker's agent had been in touch but it went no further. Dutch rider still without a contract #TDF

@dnlbenson Thu, 7th Jul 2011 12:29:59

160km remaining from 226km

The breakaway now has a lead of 9:10 and with rain falling hard, it is likely to rise even more.

If the sprinters' teams don't feel like chasing right now, some of the teams with great puncheurs like Quick Step, Omega Pharma-Lotto or Astana should collaborate later to try and catch the five-man break again before the last little climb shortly before the finish.

With three kilometres to go on this stage, there will be a 1.3km long climb at 6.3 percent, a perfect place for a late attack. Then there are 1.4 km of a false uphill flat and the 400m finishing straight which is flat.

The breakaway is now at the foot of the first Cat. 3 climb.

These are the categorized climbs today:

km 99,5 - Cat. 3: Côte de Saint-Michel de Montjoie (2,4 km @ 5,9%)
km 156,5 - Cat. 3: Côte du Bourg d'Ouilly (2,7 km @ 5,6%)
km 197,0 - Cat. 4: Côte du Billot (1,3 km @ 6,5%)

136km remaining from 226km

The rain hasn't advantaged the break. The gap is now coming down slowly, currently at 7'45".

Garmin-Cervelo has picked up the pace at the front of the bunch. But the breakaway has reacted and the gap is back at 9'45".

The rain is still coming down hard on the riders as they climb the Cat. 3 ascent. It is very windy and even cold, the riders are all wearing rain gear.

Still, there are lots of spectators out to cheer them on.

Hoogerland has attacked halfway up. Duque is chasing but Hoogerland's teammate Westra is controlling the remainder of the break.

Hoogerland can't get away significantly, though. But if Hoogerland maintains his gap he will take the two points on top of the climb.

Hoogerland can't get away significantly, though. But if Hoogerland maintains his gap he will take the two points on top of the climb.

Hoogerland doesn't mind the cold rain. He hasn't even gotten a rainjacket, he's still wearing his short-sleeved jersey.

And Hoogerland takes the KOM points at the summit.

The gap to the peloton is up to almost 12 minutes!

The order of riders at the Cat.3 KOM was:

1 Johnny Hoogerland (VAC) 2
2 Anthony Roux (FDJ) 1

All five riders are together now on the descent. It's still very wet...

The Garmin riders at the front of the bunch are putting on a regular pace but one could not label this a chase.

It's not raining anymore now but the road is full of puddles.

The bunch has crossed the summit and is now strung out on the descent.

Duque gets some instructions from his DS through the team car window - and some arm warmers.

Hoogerland has thus three KOM points on the classification and is the virtual leader. But Duque could still make up with one Cat.3 and One Cat.4 climb still to come.

Tough day for Quick Step, with Boonen and Chavanel nursing wounds and bruises. Now Geert Steegmans is dropped, suffering from injuries.

@inrng Thu, 7th Jul 2011 13:29:25

Hoogerland gets a wheel change and chases back to his breakaway colleagues.

115km remaining from 226km

The gap has come down a little again to 10'10". The Garmin boys at the front of the bunch are not having a good time, David Millar seems to be very cold.

Christian Vande Velde still manages to crack a smile and share a joke - what can you do...

The sky has brightened up a little and there is even some sunshine coming through the clouds now. There should be a rainbow somewhere...

The bunch is strung out on a winding country road through a forest.

With @htchighroad on the front the finish must be for Cav afterall. He won a really hard one yesterday, so he has confidence now. #tdf

@craiglewis85 Thu, 7th Jul 2011 13:37:49

HTC has joined the chase and the work is paying off, as the leaders' advantage has shrunk to 8'21".

Chavanel has dropped back to the tail of the peloton. He is being paced back on by his team car.

 

Just endured the most incredible rainstorms - the storm is just following us, won't go away..! Hailstones hurt when you're wearing shorts..!

@grahamwatson10 Thu, 7th Jul 2011 13:45:18

TdF photgrapher Graham Watson aslo got his share of the rainstorm!

102km remaining from 226km

The gap is "down" to 8 minutes.

French TV in Vacansoleil car with DS Hilaire Van der Schueren. Says break will be caught but suits him, Hoogerland is KOM, Feillu for stage.

@inrng Thu, 7th Jul 2011 13:47:02

Looks like the worst is behind the riders. The dark grey clouds have gone away to the North and the road ahead seems to lead towards more likeable weather conditions.

The intermediate sprint in Vassy is coming up in four kilometres. Let's see what happens, especially back in the bunch...

Joan Rojas might be looking forward to make amends for his relegation yesterday.

Sorry - it's raining again on the peloton.

Up the road, FDJ's Roux took the intermediate sprint in front of Duque.

The bunch is now only 6'45" minutes behind.

This should be another sketchy sprint for points. I bet the riders hate this new set-up. It's nice viewing, though. #tdf

@craiglewis85 Thu, 7th Jul 2011 13:58:26

Dave Zabriskie leads the bunch out through the rain. What a nasty day.

They are coming up to the sprint...

Vacansoleil leads out now it's very fast.

HTC riders follow up, and Cavendish takes the most points in front of Rojas. Gilbert is fifth.

A regular sprint - we couldn't see any deviations from here, at least!

The results of the intermediate sprint:

1 Roux (FDJ) 20 points
2 Duque (COF) 17
3 Westra (VAC) 15
4 Malori (LAM) 13
5 Hoogerland (VAC) 11
6 Cavendish (THR) 10
7 Rojas (MOV) 9
8 Farrar (GRM) 8
9 Renshaw (THR) 7
10 Gilbert (OLO) 6
11 Petacchi (LAM) 5
12 Delage (FDJ) 4
13 Ventoso (MOV) 3
14 Eisel (THR) 2
15 Moinard (BMC) 1

Green jersey competition is back to five points - Gilbert 126, 121 for Rojas

@janeaubrey Thu, 7th Jul 2011 14:07:01

85km remaining from 226km

The gap is down under five minutes.

Chavanel is definitely not well. He's been dropped from the bunch for quite a while now, trying to bridge back up. But his DS hasn't asked any of his teammates to help him out yet, either.

The sun is out now, and this looks definite. The grey clouds have moved away to the left of the riders. Let's hope for good until the finish in Lisieux.

The riders are taking off their flappy rainjackets. The road is dry.  Tom Boonen gets some bottles from his team car.

A bit of road furniture as the riders come through a small twon but luckily the road is straight.

The gap is coming down fast now. We can see BMC and Radioshack doing some work at the front of the bunch.

The leaders still cooperate like they should, but the blackboard shown to them by a motorcycle shows: 3'25"... And still more than 75 clicks to go.

Gesink (Rabobank) got a new bike and now chases back. Three teammates have waited for him.

They are at the foot of the next climb: Cat. 3: Côte du Bourg d'Ouilly (2,7 km @ 5,6%).

Let's see if Hoogerland can make it to the top and take another two points for the polkadot.

Gesink changes bikes again. Often it's a sign of good form, a tiny creaking noise can distract, the rider wants it all to be perfect.

@inrng Thu, 7th Jul 2011 14:32:19

It looked like he had a mechanical of sorts. Second bike change for him today.

400 metres to go until the KOM banner. Roux starts the sprint from the front.

Duque comes up from behind, but is passed by Hoogerland. But Roux takes the 2 points, Hoogerland adds another one to his tally.

Smart racing from Roux, surprising Hoogerland like he did.

The bunch is putting on a regular pace, keeping the gap steady at 2'30".

Are you playing along with our Easton Trivia Challenge? Our question yesterday was, “Which rider has earned the most green jerseys in the Tour de France?" The answer, of course: Erik Zabel, with six.

Today's question will be coming up shortly.

Really no luck today... it's raining again! Not hard, but it's raining. The bunch is rolling along without mootivation - we can't blame them.

If the break stays away until the third KOM climb, Roux still has a chance to take the polkadot jersey. If he wins the last climb, a Cat. 4 offering 1 point, he could be level with Hoogerland and then take the jersey based on his GC standing.

The gap is down to 2 minutes, they are racing again.

Westra is taking off on the front, followed by Malori!

The other three riders don't seem to want to chase. Hoogerland doesn't have to, and small climber Duque hasn't got any rouleur abilities.

Westra and Malori have agood little gap now.

56km remaining from 226km

The duo is definitely gone. They will be giving everything but the bunch is only 1'30" behind.

56km remaining from 226km

The duo is definitely gone. They will be giving everything but the bunch is only 2 minutes behind.

56km remaining from 226km

The duo is definitely gone. They will be giving everything but the bunch is only 2 minutes behind.

Now, the sun is out again. What a messy day.

Now, the sun is out again. What a messy day.

Hoogerland, Duque and Roux are about 35 seconds back from Westra and Malori, with the bunch more than 2'30" back.

Vaughters speaks about his team's multiple goals http://bit.ly/o5xucb

@dnlbenson Thu, 7th Jul 2011 15:06:39

Roux, Duque and Hoogerland have been caught by the bunch, they sat up.

40km remaining from 226km

BMC, HTC, Leopard and Astana riders at the front of the bunch. Still, they are taking it relatively easy with the gap holding steady at 2'48".

The last KOM climb, the Cat. 4 Côte du Billot (1,3 km @ 6,5%) is coming up in about ten kilometres.

Westra will certainly try and take the one remaining point for his teammate, but even if Malori gets it, it doesn't matter: Hoogerland secured the plokadot jersey today.

The roads are much straighter today compared to yesterday, but the favourites will still be careful in the finale.

There is a fierce wind coming from the right hand side... which could create echelons. Moreover, the wind carries some dark clouds again!!

Once again Cyclingnews and Easton Cycling have teamed up for a competition during the Tour. We have some great prizes line up for you, ranging from a signed BMC team jersey to the grand prize, a complete BMC Teammachine SLR0. For more, just click here.

All you have to do is answer one trivia question and you are automatically entered. And you get 21 chances, one per stage!

Here is today's trivia question in the Easton/Cyclingnews Tour de France Trivia Challenge: Stage 5 of the 2008 Tour de France between Cholet and Chataroux was longer than today's stage between Dinan and Liseux. How long was the stage (according to Cyclingnews.com)?

Need a hint? Look here.

You are entered for the random drawing for prizes by filling in your answer here. Good luck!

And here we go again... it's raining!

The bunch has split into groups, with a small group including Sylvain Chavanel back at 2'45" of the two leaders.

The main bunch is 1'45" behind, led out by HTC.

Westra and Malori are climbing the last categorized ascent now.

Chavanel, Greipel, Renshaw, several Saxo riders (not Contador) caught in the split behind the bunch.

@inrng Thu, 7th Jul 2011 15:27:35

Contador is at the back of the bunch after trading bikes with his teammate Jesus Hernandez.

As expected, Westra took the KOM point on top of the climb.

The bunch follows at 1'13".

Contador is again at the back of the bunch, he again got a bike change having received his second bike off the roof of the team car.

It's still wet.

Very wet! What a nightmare for the last 25 kilometres of this race!

The gap is down to one minute as HTC riders put on a fierce chase.

Fortunately the roads are not too twisty and the tramc seems in good state.

Movistar is also in the mix now for Rojas.

The bunch is splitting up...

The riders pace through Livarot now, 20 km from the finish.

It will only be a matter of time until the leading duo will be caught.

Malori takes off on his own as the gap comes under 30 seconds!

17km remaining from 226km

Malori gives it everything while Westra is caught.

Voeckler is chasing back on to the rear of the bunch.

With three kilometres to go, there will be a 1.3km long climb at 6.3 percent, a perfect place for a late attack. Then there are 1.4 km of a false uphill flat and the 400m finishing straight which is flat.

The rain is still coming down badly. What a day, being soaked all day on the longest stage of the TdF should be no fun.

They are letting Malori live for a little while, the gap is steady at 30 seconds with 15 clicks to go.

Not sure if Gossy will get the green light today Finish looks good for Cav as well. Hard finish, but after yesterday, he can win it. #tdf

@craiglewis85 Thu, 7th Jul 2011 15:47:12

Just had a virtual rain white out here at the finish! Going to be a wet one here...the set nearly blew away!!

@Chris_Boardman Thu, 7th Jul 2011 15:47:03

Malori (meaning "Illnesses" in Italian) is relly hanging in there. He will be wiped out at the finish, having been in the break since the start of the stage.

Back in the bunch, Anthony Roux (FDJ) has attacked! He was also in the earlier break...

13km remaining from 226km

Roux has about 100m over the bunch. What a brave move but will he be successful?

The wind has eased up somewhat so will not be a factor in the finale.

Malori, an excellent time triallist, is doing a great job. He's only 23 years old and the reigning Italian time trial champion.

9km remaining from 226km

But Roux has been caught as Omega Pharma Lotto makes the pace for Gilbert.

20 seconds for Malori. Six km to go. Let's not forget that final hill!

The rain is coming down again! Malori is almost at the foot of the climb. Flat out.

Leipheimer crashed! But he's on his bike again. He slipped on a white line.

Malori looks back but can't see the bunch (yet).

Leipheimer is being paced back.

Astana riders at the front, too.

3km remaining from 226km

Six seconds for Malori as he starts the last climb.

He's gone....

Jelle Vandendert from Lotto has opened up a gap!

Voeckler also attacks! Chasing up to Vandenert. He's with him now, Vandenert tries to hang onto his wheel.

They have 50 metres over the bunch

But the climb is nearly over and the two are caught. Voeckler wanted Vandenert to collaborate but the Belgian didn't have the energy.

Flamme rouge! Vinokourov accelerates, but then is passed by a Rabo rider

Boasson Hagen comes around, followed by Hushovd

Boasson Hagen takes it!!

Goss is second, Hushovd third.

4 Feillu

5 Rojas

6 Vichot

7 Gilbert

8 Ciolek

Great win for the 24-year-old Boasson Hagen, his first in the Tour de France. A good day for Sky!

Top Ten:

1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
2 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
4 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
8 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team
9 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ

Thanks for having joined us again today. Let's hope that the weather dries up a bit for tomorrow's stage 7 from Le Mans to Chateauroux.

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