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Tour de France stage 6 - live coverage


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from stage 6 of the Tour de France. We are just about to head through the neutralized zone and begin the 191km of the  stage. Stay tuned for live text updates for the next few hours as we bring you all of the action. 

We're rolling out from Le Teil this morning with blue skies overhead but the riders are in for another testing day with several key climbs before the second summit finish of the race at Mont Aigoual. The final ascent has been used in the Tour de France just once before, back in 1987 but that year it wasn't the final climb, so this is all new territory for the race and the riders.

Of course, the major talking point from stage 5 was over Alaphilippe being handed a time penalty and dropping out of yellow as a result. It meant that Adam Yates moved into the race lead and he's currently on the front of the peloton in the yellow jersey. The nuts bolts of that story can be found, right here but we'll bring you more reactions in the early part of today's stage.

Prudhomme has just dropped the flag and we're now racing on stage 6 of the Tour de France. As expected we have some attacks, with Roche going off the front. He's a rider that I tipped for a breakaway today after he lost a lot of time on purpose on stage 5. You can read the stage preview, right here

Thomas De Gendt for Lotto Soudal is on the front of the peloton nice and early and he's setting the pace for the bunch with 2km covered already and Roche sits up for a second and that allows a few more riders to come across. Van Avermaet, Herrada, and Cavagna are going clear with the Sunweb rider. That's a really good group but they might  want a couple more to bolster their number. 

The leading quartet only have eight seconds as we see a rider from EF Pro Cycling trying to making it five riders as the gap goes out to 12 seconds but the bunch aren't willing to sit up  just yet. The EF rider looks like Powless but I can't be sure just yet as now an NTT rider tries to make it six leaders. The road is gently going uphill so this is a good point for the break. Yep, it's Powless. 

The gap is coming down though because more and me riders are trying to get across. Boasson Hagen is on the move but there are another batch of riders trying to make the juncture too. This is flat out racing. Lutsenko has made it, and so too has a rider from  Bora. 

That makes eight riders in the break and that might be that. The bunch fan across the road and this is the chance for the break to establish itself. This is is easily the best break of the race as we see Roche and Oss swap turns. We'll have the full breakdown of riders in just a minute. The gap right now is 16 seconds. 

No, there's a reaction from the bunch and they're starting to chase things down because Van Avermaet is only around three minutes down on GC and he's too good to let go. Mithchelton might chase this back and bring it all back together. They won't get any help from QuickStep because they have a rider in the move. The gap is down to 11 seconds with 181km to go.

For now, here are the eight stage leaders. If the Olympic road champion wasn't there the bunch would probably let the break go. It's at 13 seconds.

Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Neilson Powless (EF), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT), Daniel Oss, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).

Trek, Movistar and even  Jumbo have men on the front and the gap is now down to 8 seconds. No one wants to totally close it down though. 

Lotto and AG2R are now  trying to send riders up the road but they're closed down by Mitchelton-Scott. Now Lutsenko is waving his arms around, he's not happy with the work rate in the break. That's not a good sign, is it?

Finally the bunch show some hesitation and the quality of the break might save them because the gap is out to 36 seconds. That's  the biggest time gap that we've seen so far in the race.

We can  see Yates and Carthy sharing a joke in the peloton, so it looks like the pace is  easing in the peloton as the gap goes out to 51 seconds. A reminder of the riders in the break:

The peloton aren't entirely easing off though as we see De Gendt sit on the front and set the pace. The break are having to work exceptionally hard to keep their advantage at just over one minute with 170km to go.

Powless is celebrating his 24th birthday today as we see the EF rider take a long pull on the front of the break. He's helping the eight-man move extend their lead to 2'17 as we see a few riders in the bunch stop for a comfort break. Now is when the break need to work their socks off and now we'll get a better idea as to whether Yates is here for stage wins or a possible GC battle. Right now he's at the back, still chatting way with fellow Lancastrian, Carthy. 

25km covered

Mitchelton-Scott now move up as a unit and begin to take control of the pace. They're going to keep the gap around a 3-5 minutes, I presume, for most of the stage  before hoping that GC teams try and close it during the portion of the stage, when all the climbs come. 

The Ineos squad are also interested in moving up as they bring Egan Bernal closer to the front of the peloton. The opening 140km of the stage is relatively flat as we see Juul Jensen set the pace right now. Up ahead Van Avermaet and Oss swap turns on the front of the break. Roche then comes through as the gap moves out to four minutes. Not sure who the best climber in the break is though...

157km remaining

Today's climbs

Juul Jensen, Bauer, and Impey are on the front of the pack right now as we see the gap move out to 4'51 with 151km to go. 

Back in the  bunch we see our first sighting of Nairo Quintana, who has been decent so far in the race. He's tucked in behind his Arkea teammates, and will be in contention at the finish, although I'm not sure the final climb is hard enough for a climber like him to make the difference. 

Have we peaked? With 145km to go the gap to the break is holding at 5'15 as Mitchelton settle for a long day in the saddle. 

A couple of Ineos riders swing out from the bunch and pick up feed. Sivakov was one of them and he already looks a lot better than earlier in the week. Remember he crashed heavily (twice) on stage 1 and has been riding in full recovery mode ever since.

At the back of the bunch we can see Coquard trying to chase back through the cars. He looks fine, so must have dropped back to  his team car or had a mechanical. 5'35 is the lead now to the eight leaders. 

It's been a rapid opening hour of racing and there's no let up just yet with the eight leaders managing to add a few more seconds to their advantage. 

Is Jesús Herrada the best climber in the break? There's a good argument to pick him for the possible stage win. He's won stages in the Vuelta and the Dauphine and he won the Ventoux Challenge twelve months ago. Cofidis haven't won a stage since 2008 by the way and on current form Elia Viviani isn't going to break that duck. Could  Jesús Herrada be the man?

Lutsenko was seventh on stage 2, so he's clearly on form. He's no slouch on the climbs and he also has a Vuelta stage win to his name. He was really prominent when the break formed and the long drag to the line does suit him too. He also has one of the best national champion's kit in the Tour de France this year, probably second behind Higuita. 

Back in the bunch we can see Julian Alaphillipe as he rides behind his teammate and the Green jersey, Sam Bennett. Here's what the Frenchman's team boss had to say about yesterday's time deduction.

"It's very hard but there is a rule. And if we apply it severely to others, then it's the same for us," Lefevere said to Le Parisien.

130km to go

Munch bunch

Juul Jensen swings over and now it's Sam Bewley who takes over for the Mitchelton Scott train. The gap is down to 5'49, which still keeps Lutsenko in the conversation around the yellow jersey but realistically... it's not going to happen. 123k to go.

Let's talk about Pogacar, because he's in the white jersey and he hasn't put a foot wrong so far in the race. He could be a contender for the finish today if he can get his positioning right and the break is caught. We spoke to his director Allan Peiper last night about the 21-year-old and his growing stature within his first Tour de France. Here's our chat with Allan

The gap goes back out to 6'10 and it's going to be like this for at least another hour or so. Remember, all the climbs are loaded into the final section of the stage but it will be interesting to see who comes and helps Mitchelton with the chase. Not QuickStep, they have a rider in the break but if the Australian team can bring the gap down to three minutes then you can expect Jumbo Visma to help. I can't see Ineos doing any chasing just to end up helping Roglic take some more bonus seconds.

112km to go

The eight leaders have a gap of 6'20 and that's the biggest it's been so far today. A reminder of our leaders:

Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Neilson Powless (EF), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT), Daniel Oss, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).

Who are you tipping today from the break? Are you team Jesus?

Back in the bunch and yesterday's stage winner Wout Van Aert is coming back through the cars. The rest of the Jumbo Visma team are just sitting behind the Ineos train. 

Back in the bunch Buchmann is being helped to the front. He lost 9 seconds on stage 4 and today is a harder climb and finish. He has to be there or at least limit his losses   as he continues to recover from his Dauphine crash. He was fourth last year in the Tour de France and looked undroppable at times, but so far in the Tour he's looked vulnerable on the hills. 

101km to go and the gap is at 6'36. No passengers in this break, which contains a number of Grand Tour stage winners. Two have won stages in the Tour,  Edvald Boasson Hagen and Greg Van Avermaet, whilst Roche hasn't won a stage in the race but he did finish 12th on GC in 2012.

Adam Yates came through the Dave Rayner Fund and later today we'll be running an extract from Peter Cossins' excellent book on the late British rider. For more information on the history of the Fund, and to see how important it has been for so many young male and female riders coming through the ranks, click here. I highly recommend that you then purchase the book. 

Top ten on GC

A bit of tech for you. We've interviewed Samuel Sanchez's new-look bike. He had an update to his machine after winning the Spanish national road championships. What do you think?

90km to go

Mitchelton have lined out the peloton but the gap is currently holding at just over 6 minutes, which keeps Van Avermaet in the virtual race lead. The break are so good, it's going to take a really consistent effort to bring them back but the stage is nicely balanced at the moment. Whether the break survives will come down to who joins Mitchelton Scott on the front of the peloton. So far they've not had any help.

We get a shot of Wout Poels, who was handed the combativity prize for yesterday's stage. He's really banged up after a fall earlier in the Tour and is almost an hour down on GC. The hope, for Bahrain McLaren is that he finds his feet and starts to recover as the race goes on. 

85km to go

Our man on the ground, the ever-excellent Alasdair Fotheringham, has just ventured up the final for today's stage. Here's his dispatch from the press room.

"Things get really complicated right from the start of the third category, Col des Mourezes: km 163, which precedes the final first cat. Col de la Lusette: km 177.5. Both are similarly difficult: not that steep but both very, very narrow, like a car-and-a-quarter wide -  and very technical, with some really awful road surfaces. Basically it feel like roads you'd have found in the Tour 50 years ago. The descent of the Mourezes  is extremely fiddly, technical and fast as well as badly surfaced, and on top of that the minute you get to the bottom of the Mourezes, there's a sharp left hander and you're straight onto the Lusettes. This is very similar, maybe a bit steeper at the bottom but some brutal hairpins above all, narrow and if you've got a puncture and or are too far back, you won't see the leaders again. It's going to be very hard for teams to co-ordinate on this part. On the plus side for those who lose out, with about two kilometres to go on the Lusette it flattens out and broadens out and although there's a bit of a downhill it's essentially a wide, very well-surfaced A road from there to the finish, with barely any serious gradient. 

Roche pulls a foot from a pedal but I think he's just stretching as he drifts to the back of the group. He instigated this attack, right from the gun. Probably after reading the CN preview and seeing that we tipped him for the break. That must be it. 

So the increase in pace from Mitchelton has seen the leading eight riders lose 30 seconds or so, and the gap is down to 5'36. We've got an intermediate sprint coming up in about 15-20km as we see Boasson Hagen on the front of the break.

Martin (Cofidis) has a teammate with him as he comes back through the cars. The pace is so high, which means it takes ages and ages to come back to the bunch as we  now see Bewley lead the peloton  - the gap at 5'36 with 77km to go.

A few eyes on Sagan with that intermediate sprint coming up and points for the minor places. Here's what he had to say after yesterday's stage, which saw him lose the green jersey. 10km to go until we reach the sprint.

The road does start to climb here but it's only a gentle, rolling incline. We're starting to make our way to the exciting part of the stage as we see a few more GC teams move up and begin to organise their efforts. 

Bauer back on the front of the bunch and the gap is holding at 5'34 with 71km to go. This stage is so evenly balanced but the situation is tipping towards the peloton as they continue to slowly chip away at the lead. To reiterate though, Mitchelton will need some allies once the road starts to climb. 

Nt sure what the problem is but Edet is back seeking medical attention. The doctor leans over and it's something around the eye or face area for the Cofidis rider but he'e back on his way to the peloton now. Out  front and Herrada takes a long turn on the front of the break as we see Daniel Oss sit at the back. We're getting closer and closer to the intermediate sprint. 

Right at the back of the bunch and Alaphilippe is calling for his team car. He's nice and relaxed as we dip into the final 70km of the stage. 

Boasson Hagen takes 20 points ahead of Oss, with Van Avermaet in third.

Kluge is then sent up the road, maybe Ewan doesn't want to sprint or isn't feeling great. 

Kluge is ninth, and then we see Bennett take tenth a few seconds later.  Sagan was further back. So Bennett extends his lead.

Quintana, Dayer is down in a crash with 60km to go. He's back on his feet though and coming back after I think he went over a bidon.

As we see Kluge absorbed back into the bunch with 59km to go and the gap at 5'44. 

If you're just joining us we have Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Neilson Powless (EF), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT), Daniel Oss, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) up the road.  They  have a lead of 5'47 with 57km to go. All the climbing, however,  is  still  to come. 

The Cap de Coste is on the horizon. Just a third cat but it will be interesting to see who joins Mitchelton near the front of the peloton at that point. Right now, it's just the Australian team on the front and setting the pace. 

So Bennett now has a 12 point lead over Sagan in the race for the Green jersey. Last night we caught up with the last Irishman to lead and win the competition, Sean Kelly. Here's our story

50km to go

Lutsenko moves up and take a long pull on the front of the break, and the Astana rider still looks as fresh as a daisy, despite almost 140km on the attack. His chance of  moving into yellow has gone but the stage win could still be up for grabs. 

We are almost on the lower slopes of the Cap de Coste. It's a short third cat climb but the pace is so high it could create a few small splits at the back of the peloton. 

Still no sign of Bahrain, UAE, Ineos or FDJ, who are  all saving their powder for the last two climbs. And we're onto the Cap de Coste. The gap to the peloton is at 5'26 with 46km to go.

Oss, as you might expect, is at the back of the break as the road starts to climb as we see Bahrain for the first time as they bring Landa into the picture.

Van Avermaet takes a pull on the front of the break, with Powless next to come through. The break are still working well together, and they know that the stage win is in the balance, but they've lost a few more seconds and the gap is at 5'12 with 45km to go.