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Live coverage

Tour de France 2017: Stage 6

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.

 

Chris Froome is back in the yellow jersey as he chases a fourth Tour de France win. However his rivals are still close. 

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 18:38:59
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:12
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:14
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:25
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing 00:00:39
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:00:43
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale 00:00:47
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:52
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:54
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:01

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.

 

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) went down hard and fractured his shoulder blade, while world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was disqualified from the Tour.

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.

 

No doubt lots of teams have team staff driving ahead of the race to send back info on when and where the wind is strong and if echelons can be a problem.

 

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.

 

It will be interesting to see who tries to go in the break today.

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.

 

Team Sky will not be keen to do the hard work despite having the yellow jersey. They will hope the sprinters' teams will pick up the slack and ensure their leaders get to fight for victory. 

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

 

They're off!

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.

 

Chris Froome is on the front and other riders are also trying to deter a chase.

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

 

Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Emirates) has a excellent flat back position on the bike. 

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.

 

This special edition is about the disqualification of Peter Sagan.

 

The CN team on the race discusses whether the decision was the right one and we hear from both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan on the crash, and the president of the race jury, Philippe Marien.

 

Click here to listen. Feel free to comment below the podcast.

 

Oh, look: Only 200 kilometers remaining

#TDF2017 after 10km, a 3 rider break has formeds⚡️: @VSLaengen, Frederik Backaert and Perrig Quéméneur. Go Vegard… https://t.co/ihEGlpycZq

@TeamUAEAbuDhabi Thu, 6th Jul 2017 10:48:10

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

 

The peloton is lined out as Quick-Step Floors, Lotto Soudal, Team Sky and other teams take turns on the front.

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.

 

He also has a touch of yellow with his bar tape.

 

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

There is still  long way to go in today's stage. 188km to be precise. 

 

However there is some concern of possible cross winds later in th stage. As stage 4 taught us, with the Cavendish crash, there is never a quiet day in the Tour de France.

 

After 30km into the stage the gap between the three leaders with Backy and the pack is 4:05 #TDF2017 #TeamWGG

@TeamWantyGobert Thu, 6th Jul 2017 11:10:23

Riders are taking long drinks from their bidons.

 

It's going to be a tough job for the domestiques to frequently drop back to the team car for drinks. 

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

 

"Things didn't go well in Longwy. Afterwards we had a good meeting. In the intermediate sprint on stage 5 we showed what we're capable of. The battle for green is wide open. I believe that I can win. There's no favourite," he said at the start.

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 peloton is keeping them under control so they do not have to chase too hard in the finale of the stage.

 

However the break is not going flat out either, they're trying to save some energy for a final all out charge in the hope of holding off the peloton.

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.

 

Many stop working for a moment to watch the race by.

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

Dane Lars Bak is doing a lot of the hard work for Lotto Soudal and Andre Greipel on the front of the peloton. 

That will help his teammates stay fresh for the high-speed finale.

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

The escapees' lead drops to 3:15 as they approach Langres, the site of the first of the day's two category 4 climbs.

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

The leading trio don't contest the sprint at the top of the Cote de Langres, where Perrig Quemeneur leads Vegard Stake Laengen and Frederik Backaert.

 

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

Dan Martin has showcased his talents in this opening week, placing third behind Peter Sagan in the uphill bunch finish at Longwy on Monday and then taking second on yesterday's summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. The Irishman is aiming to better last year's 9th place overall at the Tour. He compared his approach on a Planche des Belles Filles to his by-now traditional late charge on the Mur de Huy at Fleche Wallonne. "I've no idea what happened behind. It was a deceptively hard day and with the heat ... I really felt the heat on the final climb. That's the first real heat since the race started. It felt like I was glued to the road all day," Martin said. "The stage suited me in the end and I did my La Flèche Wallonne technique." Dan Benson has the full story here.

 

137km remaining from 216km

The escapees trundle towards Beauchemin, with their lead still just north of three minutes.

 

131km remaining from 216km

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) was among the attackers in the finale yesterday, and although his acceleration was snuffed out, he had the consolation of moving into the white jersey of best young rider, a title claimed by his twin brother Adam a year ago. "I wanted to win the stage," Simon Yates said after yesterday's stage. "I felt good there on the final climb and looking back now I should have stayed in the wheels. I burnt some biscuits there for the final but like I said, I wanted to win the stage, and sometimes you have to take some risks." You can read the full story here.

 

128km remaining from 216km

The break's lead drops inside three minutes. According to the onscreen graphics, precisely two kilometres separate the peloton from the escapees. FDJ, Quick-Step et al will be more than happy to allow the break to continue to linger out in front for much of the remainder of the afternoon.

 

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

Froome is well-positioned near the head of the peloton, at the rear of a line of white Sky jerseys. The gap to the break has dropped a little further, and now stands at 2:34.

 

112km remaining from 216km

With the gap down to 2:20, the peloton is taking it steady on the rolling roads.

 

Team Sky stays near the front but the other teams seem to have lost interest in making an organised chase.

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

 

The overall contenders and their teammates are treating the stage as a recovert stage before the mountain stages of the weekend.

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

The riders are in the final 100km of the stage and many seem to be taking a natural break to some how celebrate.

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.

 

To fully understand what happened and the consequences, listen our or special podcast with Editor Daniel Benson, ProCycling Editor Ed PIckering and Cyclingnews reporter Sadhbh O'Shea.

Click here for the podcast.

 

90km remaining from 216km

The Katusha and FDJ teams have placed a rider on the front to help the chase.

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.

 

#TDF2017 The Team Sunweb train have moved to the front of the bunch in anticipation of the intermediate sprint at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises

@TeamSunweb Thu, 6th Jul 2017 13:43:32

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.

 

He scored 13 points for fourth place there. Matthews scored 11 and Greipel 10. 

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 peloton keeps the break under control. The gap is 2:05.

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.

 

“I think that wherever there’s an opportunity for a bunch sprint, teams are going to set it up,” Greipel said.

 

The German powerhouse stood next to the team bus at the start in Vesoul and explained how he was going.

 

“As you can see, we’re in the mix for the green jersey but the green jersey comes with the victories, as you get the most of the points. So, we’re aiming for stage wins of course. In the end, it’s a procedure over three weeks which takes a lot of energy."

 

"We take it day by day. For the moment, I don’t feel 100 per cent but at least I’m trying day by day. I’ve got the team to support me for that. Hopefully, we have the good cards on our side today.

 

"Why not 100 per cent? I think for me it’s always… The weather turns from one way to the other. So hot. I’m always having problems but I get used to it.”

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

 

The peloton remains close, with the gap down to 2:10.

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. 

The road is narrow and there is a slight crosswind.

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

On a long straight road the peloton can just see the breakaway riders but they will not want to catch them just yet.

44km remaining from 216km

The sprinter domestiques are still leading the peloton, with Lars Bak there for Lotto Soudal and Julien Vermote for Quick-Step Floors.

Who is your favourite for the sprint in Troyes?

 

We suspect this guy might win again on a disc-brake bike.

 

Kittel spoke briefly before the start about the sprint.

 

“The goal is to win again today, I’m feeling good and so is the team," he said.

 

"Demare is on great form, we saw that on stage 4, he’s the rider to beat."

 

"Despite Cavendish and Sagan being out of the Tour I think we’ll still see a high-speed sprint." 
 

33km remaining from 216km

The last rider to win in Troyes was Erik Zabel in 2000.

 

With Sagan out of the Tour he will keep his record of six green jersey victories for another year.

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

 

The red Lotto Soudal jersey are all on the right, protecting Greipel.

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.

That deserves respect.

 

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

 

They know there is a left turn with 6km to go and then another left turn with 2km to go near the Cathederal Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul.

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).

 

The finish is only 6.5m wide and so positioning and a good lead out will be vital for victory.

25km remaining from 216km

The GC rider teams are moving up to the front now, with Astana on the left and BMC on the right of the peloton.

Strong push in the peloton that has been racing at 54 km/h in the past 5 minutes. #TDF2017 #TDFdata https://t.co/hpKo7ZS0y1

@letourdata Thu, 6th Jul 2017 15:00:03

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.

 

He's punching the tickets of any riders that are spat out of the back.

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.

 

The peloton can smell them and see them up the road.

 

 

13km remaining from 216km

The sprinter's teams are in position but not leading the peloton for now.

 

Modern day sprinting and the very high speeds has forced teams to hold back their final charge until the last three or four kilometres.

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.

#TDF2017 @jurgenroelandts has just rejoined the peloton after a puncture. 11.5 km to go, 26 seconds for the break.

@Lotto_Soudal Thu, 6th Jul 2017 15:18:50

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

7km remaining from 216km

The breakaway trio are selling their skins for a high price today.

 

They still lead by 20 seconds.

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

Quick-Step seem to want to boss this sprint from the front.

The break is finally caught.

 

Gruppo compatto! It's time for a sprint.

2km remaining from 216km

Dimension Data and FDJ on the front. QuickStep has disappeared.

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: 

 

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
5 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
6 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
8 Daniel Mclay (GBr) Team Fortuneo - Oscaro
9 Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo

#TDF2017 Marcel Kittel took the win. Edvald Boasson Hagen tried a long sprint but finished just outside of Top10.

@TeamDiData Thu, 6th Jul 2017 15:34:54

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

All the sprinters were there.

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.

 

"You can all wait, but I'm not going to talk," he shouted to the media waiting for him at the Cofidis team bus.

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

 

This is the general classification after stage 6.

 


1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 23:44:32
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:12
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:14
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:25
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:39
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:43
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:47
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:52
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:54
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:01

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

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

 

Each sprinter was on their own in the final metres.

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.

 

"I had good confidence after the intermediate sprint. The lead-out didn't work out for the final sprint. I'm not the type of rider who risks everything for a top-5 result," he said.

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

 

Kittel spoke about his alternative sprint strategy.

 

"First of all I want to say that I'm very proud of my team. They did a great job, very different to Liege. We could really bring ourselves into the front at a key moment and keep me there. That was very important for the victory," he said.

 

"The last kilometer was again a little bit freestyle but I had a good wheel, first from Arnaud Demare and then I had to go with 250 to go."

 

"It went perfect, I could start from a great position a little bit behind to see where my competitors go, and yeah, I feel good at the moment."

 

Kittel confirmed he is targetting the reen jersey. 

 

"For sure I have it in my focus, but for now what is most important that you get points at the sprints, that you get those victories because they give you a lot of advantage," he said.

 

"That's what counts. For the rest, I try to get the points in the intermediate, then we will see in one and a half weeks. It's still pretty long."

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.

 

"He (Kittel) came at the right moment. Démare came a little bit earlier but again, his move was on the limit."

 

"It was good for us that other teams moved up quite early. That was good for us, that way, we didn't have to work. Don't tell them though."

 

"Our lead-out was different, since Trentin asked to be the first man in the train. Sabatini did well."

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

 

"My hip hurts a lot on the right hand side. It was a very long, hot stage. I felt better than yesterday, but not enough to be the last man. That way, I didn't have to ride with max power too long."

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.

 

“Bouhanni is an idiot. He didn’t just pass me, he also put his knee into my bars. He’s a dick, he’s always making people crash. We know he’s like that. He’s probably upset with is because he always loses…” the Italian lead out man for Arnaud Demare said.

 

“Our lead out train didn’t go perfectly but we still got second, Arnaud. He didn’t have a perfect sprint but he showed he’s on great form.”
 

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

 

"As far as the Tour de France goes, that was as relaxed as it gets for us GC riders. Of course the sprinters had a big battle in the final, but for us it was a pretty uneventful day - just stay out of the wind, stay on the wheels and save as much energy (as possible) for the days coming up," he said.

 

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

 

"I think I wouldn’t mind giving it up to a breakaway if a breakaway did go, say, 15 or 20 minutes up the road with guys we didn’t worry about in terms of the general classification, but of course I wouldn’t be that happy to give it up to any of my rivals," he said.

 

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

 

Everyone else is sprinting for second place.

 

 

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

 

He has 170 points. Kittel is second with 143 and Matthews is third with 96.

 

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.

 

The absence of Cavendish and Sagan has not made the sprints any easier.

 

“The level of sprinting is so high here in the Tour, even if two guys are missing it’s still a crazy-high level. You have to compete against the best sprinters of the world," he said.

 

“It was crazy. It was super, super fast. I was actually close to Marcel when he started moving slowly up to the front, and I just didn’t have the legs to go with him, even on his wheel in his slipstream there was no way for me to make it the front like he did. That shows his powerful strength."

 

“In the end, I was very, very happy just to be up there again. Yesterday was not so good (after his stage 4 crash in the sprint). I didn’t feel great on the bike, but today already I felt much better, and I could even try to go for a result in the end."

 

 

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

 

“When you see the final metres, especially the gap Demare went through there, I was too far back directly, but when you see it from the top shot, I think there’s almost no space. It’s very, very tight there," he said.

 

"He actually moved off his line and went through a very, very small gap there. You have to make right decisions, and as long as everything goes OK, there’s no problem, but when it ends up like me and Cav on the ground, then it’s not so good."

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.

 

Guarnieri is Demare's lead out man and so reveals some of the bad blood brooding between the two French teams.

 

 

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.

 

 

As you may have read on Cyclingnews here, the Bora-Hansgrohe team and Peter Sagan made a desperate appeal to the Court for Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to get his disqualification over turned.

 

They even hoped that Sagan would be some how let back into the Tour.

 

However the CAS has quickly rejected any kind of appeal, sentencing that "Peter Sagan remains disqualified from the 2017 Tour de France."

 

Click here to read more

 

To enjoy a look back at the opening stages of the Tour de France and see how the Astana women's team is donig at the Giro Rosa, check out the weekly InCycle show.

 

Click here, sit back and enjoy the best video reporting out there.

Kittel seems to be asking: Who's got the biggest guns?

 

Chris Froome has none of Kittel's muscle but can count on his Team Sky teammates to protect him.

 

 

This photo sums up today's stage in many way. There was a long break by three riders but the peloton let them hang out front as the stage crossed France's wheat belt southeast of Paris.

 

With temperatures in the 30C+, the best thing was pull up the tractor, grab a baguette and some cheese, open a bottle of wine and relax and watch the race go by.

Allez le gars!

 

Thanks for joining for this extra-long full live coverage of the stage to Troyes.

 

Check out the home page and our social media feeds for all the latest news and interviews from the Tour de France.

 

We'll have full live coverage of stage 7 on Friday. 

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