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Tour de France 2017: Stage 6

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Hello and welcome to our full live coverage of today's 216km stage.

After yesterday's mountain finish at La PLanche des Belles Filles, it's time for the sprinters to take back the spotlight with an expected sprint finish in Troyes.

We'll have all the news and images from the start in Vesoul, full blow by blow coverage of the stage and all the reaction and photos long after the stage.

The Cyclingnews reporters are already at the start, chasing the latest stories from the race and interviews with riders.

Thibaut Pinbot is the local hero at the start. He comes from nearby and his family and friends are at the start.

This is Pinot's bike.

As the riders sign on at the start under blue skies and a hot sun in Vesoul, it is good to study the general classification after yesterday's shake out.

Froome certainly seemed happy to be back in yellow.

To see our full photo gallery and read our full stage report on Fabio Aru's win and Froome taking yellow, click here.

The sprinter's will take the spotlight today but of course two big-name sprinters will not be action after the stage 4 crash in Vittel.

This was the moment that sparked the crash, Sagan's disqualification and a huge debate about the rights and wrongs of the judges decision.

The riders have rolled out of Vesoul and now face a 10.9km neutralised sector before the flag is dropped and stage starts.

The four jersey wearers lead the peloton away from the start village, with Froome in yellow, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) in the best young rider's white jersey, Fabio Aru in the climber's polka-dot jersey, and Arnaud Demare in the green points jersey.

It's expected to be a hot day, with temperatures of between 25-30C during the stage.

There are some reports of cross winds being a factor during the stage.

All the riders who finished stage 5 signed on at the start today. That means there 193 riders in the race.

The riders are tucked behind the red race directors car.

The 216km stage covers classic rolling French roads as it heads north-west towards Troyes. They will help the attackers get away from the peloton but make for a hrd day out front.

The UCI officials were back doing bike checks at the start. They try to check hundreds of race bikes and spare bikes each day as they try to find and deter mechanical doping.

The riders are speeding up as they prepare for the official start at km 0.

It will be interesting to see which teams lead the chase of any attacks.

Race director Christian Prudhomme is in the car and drops the flag now. 

And the first to attack goes. A Direct Energie rider with a UAE rider try their hand.

The peloton seems happy to let them go.

A right turn squeezes the peloton and slows their chase of three riders trying their chance.

The three are Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Emirates).  

The three have a minute.The peloton is rolling along but does not seem keen to chase.

The three riders are working smoothly together, taking turns on the front. 

The gap is up to 2:30. Behind Team Sky is near the front, but the sprinters' teams do not seem interested in leading the chase for now.

It will be interesting to see how much the gap grows.

This is the view from the race car shot by the voice of race radio Seb Piquet.

With the brek up the road and the peloton cruising along behind, it's a great moment to listen to the Cyclingnews podcast.

The break have 4:00 but the peloton has started to keep them under control.

It's a hot day in the saddle and so Chris Froome has a special yellow skinsuit to help him keep cool. We grabbed this shot of him at the start.

Froome started the stage with two large bidons which keep his drinks cool.

Froome in yellow means that Geraint Thomas is back in the white Team Sky colours today.

Ten or so teams have placed a rider on the front to help with the chase. The Wanty riders are then gathered behind them, with Team Sky next riding together to protect Froome. 

188km remaining from 216km

Riders are taking long drinks from their bidons.

Sunweb's Michael Matthews fancies his chances of winnnig the green jersey now that Sagan is out of the Tour. 

The gap between the break and the peloton is staying at around 4:00 as the peloton plays cat and mouse with the three riders up the road. 

The riders are pedaling between huge wheat feels at the moment. The tractors and harvesters are out gathering the crop after a warm and dry spring/summer.

No doubt that Frederik Backaert (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) is looking at the fields as much as the road ahead of him. He and his family have a farm in Belgium. 

165km remaining from 216km

With Mark Cavendish out of the Tour, Dimension Data will probably sit back and then ride for Mark Renshaw. He is usually Cavendish's lead out man but has a fast finish too.

The average speed for the first hour of racing was 39.8km/h, confirming the steady start to the stage.

Several riders have dropped back to their team cars and loaded up with bidons. 

151km remaining from 216km

Yesterday's stage winner Fabio Aru may still have been wearing his familiar nasal strip, but this past winter, he took a more drastic measure to rectify a long-term breathing problem, by undergoing nasal surgery in Bergamo.

Away from the Tour, Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla) sprinted to victory on stage 6 of the Giro Rosa in Roseto degli Abruzzi yesterday, while Anna Van Der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) retained the overall lead. You can read a full report here.

147km remaining from 216km

FDJ, Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal each have a rider at the head of the peloton with the seemingly ineluctable bunch sprint in mind. The gap currently stands at 3:04 as they climb out of Langres.

140km remaining from 216km

137km remaining from 216km

131km remaining from 216km

128km remaining from 216km

Some supporters' flags on the roadside are billowing noticeably in the wind, but despite the relatively exposed roads, no team seems minded to try to split the race into echelons just yet. There could be some nervous moments for the GC men between now and Troyes, even if it has been a relatively sedate afternoon thus far.

120km remaining from 216km

112km remaining from 216km

Theres lots of banter and chatting going on in the peloton.

The break and the peloton passed through the feed zone just a few klometres ago and so many are enjoying a late lunch.

100km remaining from 216km

It looks Mikel Landa is on bidon duty for Team Sky. He hands one up to Froome and takes a drink himself.

The great debate about the Cavendish crash and Sagan disqualification continues.

90km remaining from 216km

A moment of panic in the peloton as a large umbrella is blow into the road. Riders scatter left and right and so avoid crashing.

This a screen grab of the panic in the peloton when the umbrella was blown into the road.

There is a breeze blowing from the riders' left but it is not enough to spark echelons or any real problems.

The riders are more concerned with the heat and 30C+ temperatures.

We have a fight for the sprint and for the points behind.

The green jersey is wide open now that Sagan is out of the Tour.

Frederik Backaert (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) wins the sprint from the break.

Behind Colbrelli jumps first after a lead out from a teamamte but he is beaten by Demare, Matthews and Greipel at the line.

They all went deep to fight for the points and so now sit up to recover for the final sprint.

Demare currently leads the points competition and so wears the green jersey.

Demare has extending his lead in the points competition but will need to score more points at the finish in Troyes.

We are seeing some superb field designs with tractors and hay bails during the stage. The local farmers love being part of the Tour. 

67km remaining from 216km

The break is appraching the Côte de la colline Sainte-Germaine, the second 4th categorised climb of the stage.

It is hot out there so even the riders in the break are taking on extra drinks from a motorbike.

The climb is 3.1km long and will surely see the three breakaways lose time.

Allez! We have some action behind. Laurent Pichon attacks from the peloton to try to go across to the attack.

The Fortuneo - Oscaro rider is trying to shake things up.

The riders have finally found some shade on the climb. It will be very welcome.

This image shows the hot conditions the break is facing today.

André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) was confident that the long stage in the heat would result in a bunch sprint.

Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) took another point at the top of the 4th category cote de la colline Sainte-Germaine.

It is currently 35C out there.

The peloton takes a tight turn with care. Nobody ants to crash on a quiet stage like today. 

This is the favourite shot of the photographers today.

This was perhaps the best way to watch the race go by.

As the kilometres tick down to 50km to go, the gap is down to 1:45. 

Pichon tried hard to go across to the break but he's fding fast and is dropping back to the peloton.

This is a great shot of Chris Froome from during the stage.

50km remaining from 216km

44km remaining from 216km

Who is your favourite for the sprint in Troyes?

Kittel spoke briefly before the start about the sprint.

33km remaining from 216km

The peloton is still keeping th break in check but the sprinters' teams are starting to gather at the front of the peloton now.

Despite it being a steady day with a three-rider break, the riders have raced at an average of 41.1km/h for almost 200km.

The riders will have studied the final kilometres of today's stage in photos and fly-over videos.

There is a final roundabout to tackle and chose the right line with a kilometre to go, before a final change in line in sight of the finish along Boulevard du 1er R.A.M. (Régiment d’Artillerie de Marine).

25km remaining from 216km

Team Sky is protecting Chris Froome.

The speed is riding and rising as more riders push through to the front to do a turn. The tension is rising too. 

The only rider looknig relaxed is Steve Cummings. He's sat at the back of the peloton as usual to avoid any crash and stay safe.

Fabio Aru is not wearing the Italian champion's tricolore jersey today because in the red polka-dot jersey.

Frederik Backaert (Wanty - Groupe Gobert), Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates) and Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) are putting up abrave fight but their lead is now less than a minute.

13km remaining from 216km

Jurgen Roelandts of Lotto had a late mechanical but he is trying to move back up to the front to help Greipel in the sprint. 

The peloton is flying along at 54km/h, with teams spread all across the road.

No Katusha take control with Tony Marti putting out big watts on the front. 

7km remaining from 216km

Here comes FDJ, Trek-Segafredo too for Degenkolb.

Trentin is riding on the front for Kittel. He's not in perfect health and is working early today.

3km remaining from 216km

The break is finally caught.

2km remaining from 216km

Boasson Hagen is on Renshaw's wheel to do the sprint.

Kittel is Sabatini's qheel but is a little back. Cofidis is riding for Bouhanni.

Riders are fighting for Demare's wheel.

Boasson Hagen leads it out.

But the sprinters com past him. Demare leads.

But Kttel comes through on the outside to win again!

He was behind but avoided the chaos along the barirers and came past the other sprinters.

Both Demare and Bouhanni came past Boasson Hagen on the barriers but were beaten by Kittel. 

Kittel again emotionally put his down on his bars after his victory and then hugged his teammates.

This is the provisional top ten result: 

Demare was seond with Griepel third, Kristoff fourth and Bouhani fifth.

With 50m to go Demare and Greipel thought they were gonig to win but Kittel came from behind at speed to beat them and celebrate his second win of this year's Tour de France.

Bouhanni was not happy to lose out. He seemed fast but couldn't find a way through.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished safely in the peloton and so kept the yellow jersey.

Froome is warming down on the rollers in the podium area. 

Yet again no single lead out train was able to control the sprint.

Demare is warming down on the rollers in the French national champions jersey but he will soon pull on the green jersey on the podium.

Matthews admitted he does not like to take too many risks in sprints.  He finished seventh.

This is one of the first photos of Kittel's win in Troyes.

Kittel spoke about his alternative sprint strategy.

Kittel confirmed he is targetting the reen jersey. 

This wider shot shows just how well Kittel beat his rivals today. He was already celebrating while they were fighting for the placings. 

Patrick Lefevere explained how Quick-Step Floors shuffled their lead out train due to injuries.

Trentin explained why he opted not to be a late lead out man. 

This shot shows how Kittel came on the outside, avoding the fight for wheels and space around and behind Demare.

Jacopo Guarnieri spoke to Italian television at the finish and didn’t hold back when talking about Bouhanni.

After pullnig on the leader's yellow jersey onthe podium, Chris Froome spoke briefly abuot his stage.

Froome admitted he would be ready to let the yellow jersey go to save energy for the decisive final week.

Here Kittel gets ready to celebrate his 11th Tour de France victory and his second of this year's Tour de France.

Demare's only consolation for defeat to Kittel was keeping the green jersey for another day.

Chris Froom has a lot of extra duties as race leader, including autographing several yellow jerseys each day.

John Degenkolb spoke post stage to NBC television after his tenth place in the sprint.

Degenkolb commented Demare's tactic of diving along the barriers.

Fabio Aru (Astana) was also kept busy post-stage.

To read all the reaction from riders at the finish, including Jacopo Guarnieri's angry criticism of Nacer Bouhanni's sprin moves, Click here.

To read out full stage report and see our 50-image photo gallery and video highlights of the stage, click here.

To check out Kittel's Specialized disc-brake bike, click here.