Sagan wins Tour de France stage 6 in Metz

Sagan… The name has become a byword for ‘sensational’ at this year’s Tour de France as the 22-year-old Slovak took yet another stage win to make it a triple treat in 2012. The Liquigas-Cannondale rider simply out-powered André Greipel and Matthew Goss to the line in Metz, despite the best efforts of the Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge teams respectively.

"Another win and I called this one ‘The Hulk'," said Peter Sagan, regarding his victory salute in Metz. "I'm very happy when I can win a stage like today. Yesterday I was unlucky with the crash but also content that nothing was broken and that I didn't have any injuries.

"This is already more than I ever expected. It's surprised me, too. I wanted to do well but I need to say that this is only the start of the Tour de France and tomorrow is when the race really begins because it's the climbs and I think that after two weeks, by the start of the third week, it's going to be really hard.

"I want the green jersey and I think I can hold on to it all the way to Paris."

With a properly flat parcours and on the eve of a foray into the mountains most would ensure a stage without high drama at this year’s Tour but you’d be wrong as the day was again characterized by crashes and calamity. Runner-up Greipel was involved in two crashes, but still figured in the finale.

"I crashed at 35km and then again at the mountain ranking," Greipel told "I didn't want to sprint, but my teammates talked me into it. It was unbelievably painful." The German sprinter is believed to have dislocated his left shoulder.

For some of the Tour’s big general classification contenders, the day was defined by a massive crash just 25km from home that saw the likes of Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal (who lost more than 13 minutes), Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek) and Rabobank’s Robert Gesink forego a significant swathe of time; tomorrow’s hills will prove that much harder after the accident as four riders were forced to abandon due to the injuries they suffered.

Consequently, the overall standings took on a different complexion by day’s end, with Hesjedal gone from the top 10 to leave Garmin-Sharp’s hopes in shreds, along with Edvald Boasson Hagen, who found himself caught in the day’s big crash. Radioshack-Nissan’s Fabian Cancellara remains in yellow – he’ll celebrate a week in the jersey tomorrow – whilst his teammate Maxime Monfort slips into the first ten. He’ll be one to watch in the next week.

A tranquil day… Who are we kidding?

With the mountains beckoning and yesterday’s finish line palpitations fresh in their minds, the men working for the Tour’s sprinters kept the day’s break on a short leash. Experienced stager David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) attacked early in the day and was joined by Davide Malacarne (Europcar), Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) to form the day’s escaping quartet after about 10km.

The break was allowed a maximum advantage nudging seven minutes before it was time to start pegging back the plucky escapees. The flat parcours lent itself to doing so with ease and the sprinters’ teams could pick and choose how much and when the time would be erased from the break.

There was a crash about 50km into the stage as double stage winner Greipel, his Lotto-Belisol teammate Francis de Greefe, Movistar duo José Ivan Gutierrez and Alejandro Valverde and Gesink and Vacansoleil-DCM pair Lieuwe Westra and Kris Boeckmans all touched down.

With much toil from several of his Lotto-Belisol teammates, Greipel could be seen taking a tow back to the peloton – the opportunity for further stage win glory driving the German and his lieutenants on as the pace increased at the front of the bunch.

Another day of toil for the medical staff

This year’s crash-fest continued 25km from the finish, the road resembling a bike swap meet as wheels, bikes, riders and mechanics cluttered the road whilst Orica-GreenEdge continued at tempo on the front in pursuit of a stage win for Goss. Bad news for Hesjedal, the Giro d’Italia champion caught in the fracas, as was Schleck, Lampre’s Michele Scarponi and AG2R-La Mondiale rider Jean-Christophe Peraud, who had already been held up earlier in the day.

With his BMC Racing teammates around him, fellow general classification contender Cadel Evans remained protected at the head of proceedings, however, the chase of the break taking on an Australian flavour with the reigning champion and his compatriots filling the front seats of the pursuit car.

The story would be different for Garmin-Sharp, however, with the likes of Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde and Daniel Martin eventually finishing more than 13 minutes after Sagan had crossed the line, with teammate Johan Vansummeren a further three minutes behind.

Before that point, and with the peloton effectively split in half with just 20km remaining in the stage, the break was in the crosshairs of Orica-GreenEdge. Behind, the battered and bruised received attention, medical or otherwise. With 15km remaining there was 2:30 separating the two segments of the field, as Robert Gesink noticeably struggled – a frustratingly familiar story for the first week of the Tour for the Dutchman.

Flying run to the finish

The 10km banner saw the break holding onto a 14-second lead, with Goss increasingly looking the favourite to take line honours given that Greipel and Cavendish had suffered mishaps throughout the day. The latter had been slowed by the crash and wouldn’t figure in the finale at all. Behind them, the group containing Schleck continued to claw back time on the front group, the band of chasers resembling a casualty ward… And their faces spoke volumes for the pain they were enduring.

The final three kilometres saw Zabriskie kick away from his three companions, who were caught by a Lotto-led peloton just 500m later. Grimacing with pain, the veteran called upon the superhero strength of Captain America to stay away but with 1,300m remaining it was the end of Zabriskie’s game.

Soon after the catch was made a long sprint ensued, with Greg Henderson leading out Greipel for what seemed like an eternity (in sprinting terms) but as Peter Sagan’s high cadence kick reached full pitch, the German could only shake his head as he rode to a runner-up position ahead of Goss, who had again valiantly laid everything on the line in pursuit of a stage win.

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Full Results
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale4:37:00
2André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 1 - Cell 2
3Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 4 - Cell 2
6Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 6 - Cell 2
8Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:00:04
11Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 10 - Cell 2
12Roy Curvers (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 11 - Cell 2
13Julien Simon (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 12 - Cell 2
14Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky ProcyclingRow 14 - Cell 2
16Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 15 - Cell 2
17Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-NissanRow 17 - Cell 2
19Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 18 - Cell 2
20Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 19 - Cell 2
21Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 20 - Cell 2
22Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 21 - Cell 2
23Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-NissanRow 22 - Cell 2
24Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 23 - Cell 2
25Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 24 - Cell 2
26Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 27 - Cell 2
29George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 30 - Cell 2
32Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 31 - Cell 2
33Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-NissanRow 32 - Cell 2
34Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 34 - Cell 2
36Christian Knees (Ger) Sky ProcyclingRow 35 - Cell 2
37Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-NissanRow 36 - Cell 2
38Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 37 - Cell 2
39Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 39 - Cell 2
41Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 40 - Cell 2
42Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 41 - Cell 2
43Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 42 - Cell 2
44Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 43 - Cell 2
45Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 44 - Cell 2
46Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 45 - Cell 2
47Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 47 - Cell 2
49Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 48 - Cell 2
50Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-NissanRow 49 - Cell 2
51Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 51 - Cell 2
53Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 53 - Cell 2
55Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 54 - Cell 2
56Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 56 - Cell 2
58Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 59 - Cell 2
61Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-NissanRow 60 - Cell 2
62Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:15
63Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD0:00:16
64Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team0:00:21
65Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank0:00:32
66Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team EuropcarRow 67 - Cell 2
69Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 68 - Cell 2
70Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 69 - Cell 2
71Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank0:00:55
72David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - SharpRow 71 - Cell 2
73Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol Team0:00:57
74Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:01:10
75Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol Team0:01:20
76Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:01:22
77Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 76 - Cell 2
78Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne0:00:04
79Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne0:01:39
80Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD0:02:09
81Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-NissanRow 81 - Cell 2
83Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 82 - Cell 2
84Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 83 - Cell 2
85Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 84 - Cell 2
86Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 85 - Cell 2
87Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos - ShimanoRow 86 - Cell 2
88Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 88 - Cell 2
90Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 89 - Cell 2
91Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 90 - Cell 2
92Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big MatRow 91 - Cell 2
93Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 92 - Cell 2
94Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 93 - Cell 2
95Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
96Nick Nuyens (Bel) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff BankRow 95 - Cell 2
97Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 96 - Cell 2
98Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 97 - Cell 2
99Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 98 - Cell 2
100Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
101Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
102Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 101 - Cell 2
103Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStepRow 102 - Cell 2
104Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 103 - Cell 2