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Tour de France 2014: Stage 6


A quieter stage is on tap today, with the 194 km from Arras to Reims expected to end in a mass sprint.

Hello and welcome back to the Tour de Pain, er, France. The rider will be very happy to be not bouncing over muddy cobblestones today. There is, however, still much mud.

The race will kick off in about 20 minutes, with a 10-minute or so neutralised section. Unfortunately, the sun has yet to put in an appearance and we understand there is light rain at the start.


Surprisingly there was only one DNF in yesterday’s difficult stage: defending champion Chris Froome.


The wind might play a role today and we have a chance for echelons. That is a quick and easy way for riders to lose time, so everyone will try to stay up front. There is, of course, only so much room up front, so it does get a bit tricky.

Today’s stage is more flat than not. We will have two ranked climbs, but they are both category 4. At km.107.5 we have the Côte de Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique
, which has 0.9 kilometre-long climb at 6.2%. Almost exactly 50km later is the 
Côte de Roucy, 
1.5 kilometre-long climb at 6.2%

Today’s stage has “breakaway” written all over it. The question is: will they stay away to the end, or be caught so that Marcel Kittel can yet again win a bunch sprint?

Astonishing that Lars Boom’s stage win yesterday was the first Dutch stage win in nine years......

Our new top five after five stages has Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) as first, with teammate Jakob Fuglsang second, at two seconds down. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is third at 44 seconds, Michal Kwiatkowski in fourth at 50 seconds, and Fabian Cancellara fifth at 1:17.

Letour tells us that it is 16°C and drizzling at the start. We have an urgent question:  Where is the summer????


Bad news for Giant-Shimano. John Degenkolb, who crashed twice yesterday, has not only a big bruise but also a torn muscle in his Gluteus Maximus. The usual treatment is rest, but the German is going to keep on trying to go. However,this "sit" muscle is an important one in cycling, so he will just have to see how it goes.


There have been only five withdrawals so far, and to of them are former Tour winners (Froome, Andy Schleck). That leaves only one former winner in the race: Alberto Contador.

We have had the sharp start. The field has been underway for three minutes but we have no reports yet of a break attempt.


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We do have an early break! Jerome Pineau (IAM), Tom Leezer (Belkin), Luis Mate Mardones (Cofidis) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) have taken off to a 40-second lead. Let’s see if this one sticks.

What is this stage like? Check our our video preview!


182km remaining from 194km

Looks like we may have our break of the day. After 11 km they have over two minutes.


179km remaining from 194km

This group is definitely gone. Now at 3:45.


There were no changes in the top of the individual rankings yesterday. Sagan continues to top the points and young rider categories, and Lemoine is still KOM. The only change was in the team ranking, where Astana has taken over from Sky.

With the gap shooting up to over four minutes, Giant-Shimano has moved to the front of the field. They want to ensure that Marcel Kittel gets another win today, after all!


Pineau marks IAM's first appearance in a break group at this Tour. Well, their first ever actually, since it is the team's first Tour. They were the only wild-card team who had not yet been in a break group.


The cobblestones may have cost him some time, but Alberto Contador says the Tour will be decided in the Pyrenees, in this video.


164km remaining from 194km

Giant-Shimano's work is taking effect, as the gap has now stabilised at 4:15.


There were no changes in the top of the individual rankings yesterday. Sagan continues to top the points and young rider categories, and Lemoine is still KOM. The only change was in the team ranking, where Astana has taken over from Sky.

So just what happened in yesterday’s stage? Lots of bumps, cobbles, crashes and mud. Especially mud. You can go back and read about it here.

154km remaining from 194km

After 40 km, the gap has dropped minimally, to 4:05. 


The Dutch and the Germans (well, one German) are dominating the race so far. Dutch teams have won four of the five stages, and Kittel has won three of them.

@WestemeyerSusan Can't see Giant letting a break go today or tomorrow (Degenkolb?) because after that they can forget about it for a while.


Have a comment for me? You can reach me on Twitter at @WestemeyerSusan


Froome is of course not the only former Tour winner to have abandoned the race to due crash injuries. Andy Schleck (Trek) had to do likewise, and has already undergone surgery on his knee. Things were worse than expected, unfortunately.

The riders have been underway for an hour now, and covered 47.6km!


140km remaining from 194km

The air seems to be going out of this group. After 54 km, the gap has dropped a whole minute, to 3:10.


RT @Greghenderson1: Todays stage we can see a team take control of the Sprint early and hold it for a long time due the roundabouts. Long lead out today


The main reaction of the riders after yesterday’s stage? “We survived!” Look at their tweets – and a gallery of photos of muddy faces – here.


127km remaining from 194km

This stage is roughly one-third over. Let's hope there is a bit more action the rest of the day than we have seen so far!


We can see already that the wind is coming from the left, and that echelons are starting to form. Giant-Shimano is at the lead of the field, in their own echelon, followed by Astana, in their echelon.


Just a reminder: our four leaders are Jerome Pineau (IAM), Tom Leezer (Belkin), Luis Mate Mardones (Cofidis) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne.

Nibali had his first experience with those cobblestones yesterday, and he mastered them. Don’t look for him in Paris-Roubaix next year, though!

Where is Contador riding today? That is easy -- directly behind Nibali.


There's our man Cheng Ji. Back at his work desk on the front of the peloton after a brief break. #ChengWatch #TdF

@climbingcyclist Thu, 10th Jul 2014 13:40:42

It doesn't appear to be raining at the moment, but the sun is also not shining. We see a number of leg- and arm warmers in the field.


You build your whole Tour team around one rider, whom you expect to win the race for a second consecutive year, and then all of a sudden, he is out of the race. What do you do? If you are team Sky, you hope and pray that your Plan B works out better than Plan A did.

Great to see Giant-Shimano riders signalling road furniture. Responsable #tdf

@TourDeJose Thu, 10th Jul 2014 13:47:49

LeTour tells us that the race is having a high-ranked guest today. French president Francois Hollande will ride in the car with Tour Director Christian Prudhomme for the closing 65 kilometres.


Tejay van Garderen (BMC) lost over two minutes yesterday – which may be part of the reason he has said that cobblestones don’t belong in the Tour.

Lunch time for the peloton. They are now all unpacking their bags, stowing what they want to keep, and discarding everything else, to the joy of those standing alongside the road.


Degenkolb may have considerable problems sitting on his bike today, but that is not stopping him from working hard. He is often at the head of the field, riding for captain Kittel.


100km remaining from 194km

Unfortunately it looks as if it may be raining again.


95km remaining from 194km

With some 95 km to go, the gap is at 3:06. So not much change.


Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) also lost more than two minutes, arriving at the finish line “tired, wet and dirty” but “smiling and satisfied”.

Definitely raining again. But at least there are no muddy cobblestones!


Fabian Cancellara is probably “the” peloton expert on cobblestones, but even the three-time Paris-Roubaix winner has said they have no place in the Tour.

The four leaders have started up the day's first climb.


Mate is the first over the climb and picks up the one available point.


Let’s take a look at these four riders in front. Tom Leezer is 28 years old. He was with the Rabo Conti team from 2005 to 2007 andmoved up to Rabobank proper in 2008. The team now, of course, is Belkin. He had a quite succesful junior and U-23 career. Last year he won a stage at the Tour de Langkawi.

 The peloton crosses under the mountain ranking, with a gap of 2:50.

Mate is 30 and in his fourth year with Cofidis. He has also ridden for Andalucia-Cajasur and Diquigiovanni-Androni. The Spaniard has had a good season, finishing 4th overall in Murcia, 8th in the Clasica de Almeria, and 10th in Andalucia.

And we have a crash. Five or six riders down on this wet road. Hope everyone jumps back up again.


And another one! 3 or 4 riders this time, including Marcus Burghardt, Johan Van Summeren and Leo König.


As far as we know everyone is ok, although some equipment has definitely suffered.


Sadly we spoke too soon. Xabier Zandio is still sitting on the road and we doubt that he will be continuing.


79km remaining from 194km

79 km to go and the gap is down to 2:31.


The day's one-and-only intermediate sprint is rapidly approaching, and the honours go to Leezer.


The field is sprinting for the next points. Well, Sagan, Greipel, Coquard and a few others are sprinting. Sagan takes it.

We hear that 2 riders have abandoned because of the recent crashes. We will get those names for you.


Egor Silin of Katusha has abandoned. We saw him hobbling after the crash.


Zandio of Sky has indeed also been forced to abandon. And Richeze of Lampre did not start, so far today we are three down.


@WestemeyerSusan TdF might have left us but not the sun. Still summer here in Yorkshire. Balmy 22c today

@TriathlonCoach Thu, 10th Jul 2014 14:32:08

70km remaining from 194km

Meanwhile the gap is down to the two minute mark.


Pineau, 34, spent the early part of his career at Bonjour and QuickStep before joining the new Swiss team this year. He has some nice victories on his record, including a stage at the Giro d’Italia in 2010

Sagan is back amongst the team cars, working his way up. He must have crashed, as he is now by the race doctor, getting a bandage on his left arm.

Another crash. In fact we aren't even seeing all the crashes. It is this weather and the wet roads. now a Tinkoff rider is down and looking like he is in pain.


OPQS now at the head of the field, with Tinkoff-Saxo behind them. The injured rider was Hernandez, and we have not yet heard if he is back on his bike.


64km remaining from 194km

The break is nearly caught, they only have about 30-40 seconds now.


The field has split, with the Sagan group at 1:12. The split was caused by the many crashes.


#TDF #tourOfCrashes :/

@IlariaMe Thu, 10th Jul 2014 14:58:20

The first chase group slowed a bit, and now the Sagan group has joined them.

Also joining the race now is French President Hollande.


The peloton is still letting the four leaders dangle  off the front with about 30 seconds.


Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) plummeted from fifth to 19th place in GC. He is not a fan of the cobblestones anyway, and then a mechanical threw him back as well.

52 km to go in this wet, foggy, can we even say disgusting? weather.


OPQS’ Michal Kwiatkowski lost a minute and crashed yesterday, but still managed to move up to fifth overall. One of those “good news, bad news” sort of days for him.

Meanwhile the gap has crept back up to nearly a minute.


Tinkoff-Saxo's Hernandez has also abandoned the race, which is not good news for Contador.



What was it like yesterday? Take a look at this gallery to see the fun and games. 


40km remaining from 194km

40 km and the gap is at a comfortable 49 seconds. Comfortable for the peloton, that is.


Now that Froome has crashed out of the Tour, does Brailsford wish he had sent Brad Wiggins to the race? No, he doesn't. 


The four leaders tackle the second climb of the day, another cat.4.


Not far behind them, the massed peloton also charges up the climb.


Mate takes the point at this climb too.


Once again the gap has gone over one minute.


Looking at the front of the peloton we see Tinkoff Saxo, Astana, Giant Shimano, and for the first time, BMC.


Why did Lars Boom do so well on those muddy cobbles yesterday? He just used his vast cyclo-cross experience, and it took him to the win. 


30km remaining from 194km

Still a gap of 1:02 with 30 km to go. And now Belkin is taking a turn at leading the chase.


This is a rolling section here, heading down to the closing flat. And the gap is dropping as well, now at 43 seconds.


The course soon will be in a large open area, and we can expect wind. Is this why Belkin is gathering at the front - to take advantage of that and build an echelon, dropping some of this behind them?


The gap is now only 24 seconds, with 22.8km to go.


If that was their plan, it didn't work, as they are no longer at the front. 


20 km to go and the four escapees will be caught any second now.


They aren't giving up easily, and keep trying to attack one another. Pineau and Mate have jumped, while the other two are caught.


Pineau tries again and Mate goes with him.


On Jesus Hernandez DNF: "He lost consciousness and hardly recognized people." (via @BorjaCuadrado) #TDF

@TourDeJose Thu, 10th Jul 2014 15:52:48

Mate looks back to see the peloton swarm not all that far behind.


Mate gives it another go, trying to postpone the inevitable. Pineau tries, but can't go with him.


It is over for Pineau, as he is swallowed up. Mate has 15 seconds.


Some riders starting to fall off the back, including Voekler. More and more riders, actually, including Purito Rodriguez.


Mate has given it a good try, but he too is caught, with 11.8 km to go. The speed is exceptionally high now, and Tony Martin is at the front, stepping it up even more.


Looks like the wind is starting to play a role here. The field is breaking up, and we see echelons.


10 km to go and as far as we can tell, all the favourites are in this first group. We just spotted some Garmin jerseys, so it looks like Talansky is there as well.


The gap between the groups is getting larger, with the groups taking on the typical echelon formational. With only 8.5 km to go, those behind will probably not be able to come back.


OPQS still driving things, trying to make the gap as large as possible. So perhaps one of the other top riders is indeed not in the lead group.


Cannondale now pops up near the front. 5km to go.


The gap is said to be 20 seconds, but it looks larger. Katusha with Kristoff moves to the front.


GErrans falls back. Petachhi at the head of the field with 2 km to go. Cancellara lurking.....


Two Cannondales now in front. They could be riding for Viviani.


it won't be a win for Kittel today! He has fallen back!


Kwiatkoswki jumps at the 1000m marker. Can he hold on?


He is caught with a few hundred meters, and Greipel jumps. The German champion simply powers his way to the line and no one can come close.


Things had gone not at all well for Greipel so far, and he is overjoyed to have finally won. 


It was surprising that Kittel was unable to keep up -- but if one German sprinter can't win, then another one can!


It is Greipel's sixth career Tour stage win.


The wind and the brutal pace really did a job on the field. Groups of varying sizes are dribbling over the finish line even now, five minutes later.


The top ten on today's stage: 

1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol

2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha

3 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

4 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team

5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale

6 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement

7 Tom Veelers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano

8 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar

9 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team

10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling

General classification after stage 6

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team

2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team

3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale

4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team

5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing

6 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol

7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol

8 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky

9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp

10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team

We hear that Kittel may have punctured in the finale. 


"I'm really happy I got the stage win. There was a lot of pressure on us. Finally we have it," Greipel said.

Tomorrow is another flat stage -- will we see a showdown between the German sprinters?

"It was a horrible, stressful day," Richie Porte said. "But the team kept me safe."

Last man in: Christophe Riblon (ALM) at 188th at +9,23 #TDF

@TourDeJose Thu, 10th Jul 2014 16:31:50

We are sorry to hear that Hernandez is being taken to hospital by ambulance with a "cranial trauma". We wish him all the very best.


RT @friebos: "Maté's a rat. He doesn't collaborate properly & he's going to pay me back over the next few days." - An ode to Luis Maté, by Jerome Pineau

@XylonVE Thu, 10th Jul 2014 16:37:42

We have full results up, and will shortly have our full report.  All to be found here!


That's it for today. Be sure to join us again tomorrow for another exciting sprint finish!


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