1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:17:36
2 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
4 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6 Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
7 Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
8 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
10 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
General classification after stage 6
1 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 20:09:17
2 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:0:08
3 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:0:30
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:0:48
5 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 0:01:21
6 Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:01:28
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo 0:01:29
8 Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 0:01:43
9 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:44
10 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 0:01:48
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 6 of the Tour de France.
After yesterday's time trial and GC shakeup, it's another day for the sprinters today as the peloton take on a pan-flat 160km to Châteauroux.
Châteauroux has hosted the Tour twice in recent memory. In 2008 and in 2011, Mark Cavendish took victory in bunch sprints. That 2008 win was the first of 31 so far at the Tour.
Cavendish is in green after his victory on stage 4 two days ago. Can he add to his points lead and win another stage today?
Ineos Grenadiers challenger drops from third to ninth overall
There's little to write home about on today's stage, which starts at 13:55 CEST (12:55 BST). Just one category-four climb on the route along with the customary intermediate sprint. But hey, at least it's relatively short rather than 200km or more.
Here's a look at the course map today.
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Riders took COVID-19 tests after yesterday's time trial. Reports from Reuters cycling correspondent Julien Prétot suggest that they all came back negative.
Covid tests on the #TDF2021 are negativeJuly 1, 2021
Caleb Ewan might be out of the Tour, and the likes of Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo didn't start, but there are still plenty of contenders for today's stage.
- Green jersey Mark Cavendish is chief among them after his stage 4 win.
- Alpecin-Fenix will make a choice between stage 3 winner Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen before the stage. Sporza report Philipsen is the man for today.
- Wout van Aert has told Het Nieuwsblad that he's going for it – "If I win, I get ten bonus seconds. And then the yellow might still be possible."
- Arkéa-Samsic's Nacer Bouhanni has taken second and third places so far.
- Former green jersey winners Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews will be in contention.
- Arnaud Démare has yet to contest a sprint finish at this year's Tour.
- Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Cees Bol (DSM), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), André Greipel (ISN), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Bryan Coquard (B&B) are also in contention.
It sounds like there should be good weather for the peloton today. No word on any winds but it's a possibility – check out our stage 6 preview for more.
#TheRealTDF starts today: Finally we have 0% chance of rain, the temp is going to high 20s Celsius. We have GC riders set into their places and it's the final day before we hit mountainsJuly 1, 2021
Teams have arrived at the start in Tours and are preparing for the stage, with sign-in ceremony up and running.
🇫🇷 #TDF2021 getting ready for stage 6 @LeTour pic.twitter.com/cyKnput48eJuly 1, 2021
Reuters correspondent Julien Prétot reports that Tour organisers have withdrawn their lawsuit against the woman who caused the stage 1 crash.
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Just over 40 minutes until the riders roll out in Tours and the sign-on is still ongoing in front of big crowds.
Mark Cavendish's former lead-out man Mark Renshaw is backing the Manxman to take another stage win today.
“@deceuninck_qst are riding exceptionnally well”@Mark_Renshaw backs the Wolfpack to lead @MarkCavendish to victory in Châteauroux.#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/NOOARmzJavJuly 1, 2021
15 minutes to go until the stage start.
Arnaud Démare will go for it today. Here's what he had to say ahead of today's stage.
"It will be a nice sprint on a beautiful finish. We've reconned the final and there's nothing wrong with it. We'll go for it today."
Michael Matthews is thinking ahead more to the second week, though, even if he'll be in the mix today.
"Today is going to be a fast day but I think the second week suits me better," he said.
The riders are rolling out now.
Peiper explains how practice made perfect for Tour de France favourite on stage 5
160km to go
The racing has started and the attacks fly early on.
Oliver Naesen (AG2R) and Brent Van Moer (Lotto) among the early attackers but no move established yet.
152km to go / 8km done
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroen), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarche-Wanty Gobert), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) on the move now.
They have a minute already!
Groupama-FDJ give chase – a large number of the sprinter's teams are represented out front so they want to drag them back rather than having to work on the front for a sprint all day long.
An interesting battle early on. This is much better than a couple of no-hopers from Cofidis, B&B Hotels and Qhubeka NextHash jumping away at the start without much resistance.
Arkéa-Samsic and Qhubeka are among the teams helping Groupama-FDJ at the front now.
144km to go / 16km done
55 seconds between peloton and break at the moment.
The jersey holders at the start today – Cavendish, Van der Poel, Schelling and Pogačar.
The peloton not making much headway yet. Even if they make the catch soon, Groupama-FDJ will have been forced to waste some energy here.
138km to go / 22km done
Down to 47 seconds now. The break isn't working too well together at the moment, though they're all back together after a split.
It's still coming down. 35 seconds now.
They're still speeding along. Arkéa-Samsic in charge of the peloton now. 25 seconds the gap.
Connor Swift doing the work at the moment. It's no surprise the French team are keen today given Nacer Bouhanni's second and third places so far.
130km to go / 30km done
Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka NextHash) tries to jump away off the front. 13 seconds to the break.
30km done in around 33-35 minutes. Well over a 50kph average so far.
Van Avermaet is pushing on alone as the move is brought back.
The peloton seem more content to let him go as his advantage goes up to 40 seconds.. Another rider on the attack in between.
Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal) is on his own between Van Avermaet and the peloton, 25 seconds back.
123km to go / 37km done
1:45 to GVA now. Kluge is at 30 seconds.
Alpecin-Fenix are thought to be going for the sprint with Jasper Philipsen rather than stage 3 winner Tim Merlier today.
They are taking the rare strategy of switching sprinters at this Tour de France and it looks to be working well so far.
2:30 for Van Avermaet now as Kluge closes in. The German is usually Caleb Ewan's lead-out man, but with the Australian sadly crashing out of the race on stage 3 he has free reign to be forced into this fruitless breakaway! He must be thrilled.
Kluge makes the catch.
🇩🇪 @kluge_roger ➡ 🇧🇪 @GregVanAvermaetThey now are 2⃣ at the front.Ils sont à présent 2⃣ à l'avant.#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/3Er0o5wFX4July 1, 2021
Two minutes is the gap at the moment.
110km to go / 50km done
No change in the situation. The peloton is controlling things with Alpecin-Fenix and Deceuninck-QuickStep among those at the front.
100km to go / 60km done
49.9kph was the average for the opening hour of the race.
Now they've covered 60km. The gap to the break is 1:35.
Deceuninck-QuickStep man Tim Declercq is unsurprisingly on the front along with two from Alpecin-Fenix. Movistar, Ineos, UAE and Jumbo-Visma are lined out behind them.
Who will win today's stage 6 of the Tour de France in Châteauroux? #TdF21 Follow all the action live here https://t.co/e4YG2P9W0AJuly 1, 2021
Into the final 100km now, with the break 1:30 up on the peloton at the moment.
Alpecin-Fenix have taken two stage wins at the Tour so far, including Tim Merlier's sprint win on stage 3 (below). Jasper Philipsen, who led out Merlier for the win and who finished third on stage 4, is likely to be their man for today.
The new signing for 2021 has Scheldeprijs, two stages of the Tour of Turkey, and a second place at the Classic Brugge-De Panne under his belt this year.
Mark Cavendish took an emotional victory on stage 4, his first in five years at the race, and 31st stage victory in his Tour career.
He's enjoyed a resurgence since moving back to Deceuninck-QuickStep this year, winning four stages of the Tour of Turkey along the way. He made the Tour squad after Sam Bennett injured his knee, but is proving he can once again compete with the best here.
Greg Van Avermaet takes the single KOM as he leads the way over the day's only climb with 87km to go.
Meanwhile, a look at Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic), who has taken a third and second place so far in this race. Those were, somewhat surprisingly, his best ever results at the Tour, and he's certainly hitting form at the right time having been suspended earlier this year for dangerous sprinting. The Frenchman has yet to win in 2021.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has said he will go for the sprint today after the disappointment of missing out on the stage win and yellow during yesterday's time trial.
He's in good form having sprinted to victory in the Belgian road race Championships in June. He won't have much of a lead out today, however, with Mike Teunissen likely to be with him in the final.
Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) has yet to feature in a sprint at this Tour de France, though he should be among the favourites. His recent palmarès is bolstered by plenty of wins in smaller French races, but he did win four stages and the points jersey at last year's Giro.
Bahrain Victorious' Sonny Colbrelli has been in top form heading into the Tour, winning his National Championships and taking the points jersey, a stage and three second places at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Fifth in Pontivy is his best finish so far in this Tour, and the plethora of flat finishes aren't 100 per cent suited to his more punchy preferences.
Peter Sagan is Bora-Hansgrohe's man after leaving Pascal Ackermann at home. He's going for an eighth green jersey this year but was held up by the crashes in Pontivy and finished fifth behind Cavendish in Fougères. As a result he's 10th in the points classification, 41 down on the Manxman.
There are several other riders to look out for in the sprint finish today.
Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange), André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka NextHash), Cees Bol (Team DSM), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Danny Van Poppel (Intermarche-Wanty Gobert), and Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) are all contenders.
72km to go / 88km done
No change in the race situation, meanwhile. Kluge and Van Avermaet are 1:15 up on the peloton, which is controlled by the same teams and riders.
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60km to go / 100km done
The riders are a few kilometres away from the intermediate sprint at Luçay-le-Mâle. Plenty of points on offer here.
Van Avermaet leads Kluge over the sprint line. The pair are just 45 seconds up on the peloton now.
Arkéa-Samsic lead the way in the peloton. All the top sprinters are up there.
Mørkøv kicks it off for Cavendish, and it's a bit of a mess as the rider spread across the road at the line.
It looks like Colbrelli took it, though he wasn't happy with Bouhanni afterwards. They weren't close to each other in the sprint though.
Sagan is unhappy with Mørkøv, too.
20 points for Van Avermaet and 17 for Kluge.
Meanwhile, Colbrelli took 15 points, Mørkøv 13, Philipsen 11, Matthews 10, Cavendish 9, Sagan 8, Danny Van Poppel 7, Démare 6, and Bouhanni 5.
Bouhanni and Cavendish nudged each other as Cavendish moved across to get on Mørkøv's wheel while Bouhanni avoided the slowing Bora-Hansgrohe lead-out man.
The intermediate sprint.
Colbrelli takes 3rd place in the intermediate sprint as the peloton fight it out for the remaining points, green jersey Mark Cavendish also adds to his tally 💚#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/aYlb0DFpV9July 1, 2021
47km to go / 113km done
50 seconds for the breakaway, still, as things calm down in the peloton.
It's just a case of waiting to see when they'll get caught and hoping for no crashes on the run-in to the finish.
40km to go / 120km done
35 seconds between the break and peloton now. They should hang out in front for a bit longer because it's still some way to go to the finish.
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30km to go / 130km done
30 to go and the gap is 30 seconds.
25 seconds with 25km to go now. Not much else to say at the moment as they race towards the finish.
A look at our break of the day before they're inevitably caught before the finish.
A look at the final kilometres of today's stage. A couple of roundabouts outside the final 3km, right angle turns either side of the 2km mark, and then a 1.6km finishing straight which is seven metres wide.
20km to go / 140km done
Just 13 seconds for the break now. It's almost over.
50 points up for grabs at the finish. Here's a look at things as they stand in the points classification.
Cavendish leads on 98 points, followed by Matthews on 88, Alaphilippe on 84, Bouhanni on 79 and Van der Poel in 78.
Philipsen is sixth on 72, then Pogačar on 64, Colbrelli on 60, Sagan on 56, and Merlier on 50.
11km to go
The gap has shot back up in recent kilometres. Kluge and Van Avermaet have 40 seconds now.
9km to go
35 seconds now. Van Avermaet driving it on the front.
7km to go
Deceuninck-QuickStep and Alpecin-Fenix on the front. Cofidis are also up there with a few riders.
Bora-Hansgrohe and Trek-Segafredo are also present towards the front.
Groupama-FDJ up there now alongside the Belgian squads. 20 seconds is the gap.
5km to go
A reminder of the big names set to contest the sprint today...
Cavendish, Philipsen (Merlier), Van Aert, Bouhanni, Colbrelli, Démare, Sagan, Matthews, Colbrelli, Van Poppel, Pedersen, Bol, Greipel, Laporte, Coquard, Walscheid.
13-14 seconds for the two leaders now.
Our Twitter poll earlier saw 50% of people vote for Cavendish to repeat. 17% for one of the Alpecin-Fenix men, 6% for Bouhanni and 25% for 'another sprinter'.
3km to go
Démare's lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri has crashed. Bad luck for Groupama-FDJ.
The two leaders are just a few seconds up now.
Good effort from Van Avermaet on this run-in. I haven't seen him off the front yet,
The duo are caught at 2.5km to go.
2km to go
Bahrain have a man on the front with the Deceuninck-QuickStep train behind. DSM, Alpecin, BikeExchange also represented.
The peloton head round that final bend at 1.6km to go. All upright onto the final straight.
Alaphilippe leads the way.
Van der Poel moves up too, but his sprinters aren't behind him!
1km to go
Two trains now – QuickStep and Wanty!
VDP pushes on with three teammates on his wheel.
Alpecin vs QuickStep
Here we go at 300 metres!
Alpecin launch first!
Cavendish vs Bouhanni and Alpecin at the line.
Cavendish takes it! Win number two for the Manxman!
He almost came together with Philipsen on the line there. Nothing out of order, just Merlier getting squeezed between the two as he dropped back from his lead out. Cavendish moved across a little, though.
Philipsen took second ahead of Bouhanni.
Philipsen did well to stay upright, to be honest. Merlier touched him twice after finishing his lead out as he was squeezed in the middle. Not an ideal day for Alpecin-Fenix.
Three stage wins in Châteauroux for Cavendish now. This one 13 years on from his first...
13 years apart in Châteauroux #TDF2021 (📸 Getty) pic.twitter.com/998ASG2rJ2July 1, 2021
Here's what Cavendish had to say after the stage.
"It seems like every time we finish here there's a different line-up. 2008 it was uphill a bit, I think it was further down the road. 2011 it was short – still uphill a bit ... It's been 10 years since I last won here. It's pretty special.
"Actually in pretty similar fashion today – we were talking about what to do in the final because there are so many strong sprint teams here. To take it on is a big ask, you always get swamped at the finish by those big teams.
"The wind was coming from the left and Michael left the left side for me to go but I wanted just a split second longer in the wheels before I went so I had to switch trains and go from there
"You see the guys – you see how much they pulled there. The world champion, Julian Alaphilippe, just burying himself in the last kilometre. It's something special. I'm buzzing."
Cavendish celebrates with teammate, world champion Julian Alaphilippe.
He leads the points classification on 148 points now. Philipsen in second on 102, then Bouhanni on 99, Matthews on 96. Sagan is seventh on 72 points.
Here's what the yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel had to say after the stage. He was leading out his sprinters at the end there.
"It was OK. The start was hard with a dangerous move getting away at the beginning of the stage. It was pretty OK towards the finish.
"I did what I could in the lead out, but I think they lost my wheel in the last corner, so I had wait and get back to them. I think we were a bit far, but we managed to set up the train really well. Cavendish is just the fastest man. We'll try again.
"[Tomorrow] will be a hard pedal, I think. The gaps are not too big so for sure some guys will go for the overall. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Deceuninck-QuickStep sprinter takes Tour stage win number 32 in Châteauroux
Another day in green for Cavendish.
Our full stage 6 report is up now, complete with results and a gallery.
⏮ Relive the last km and the winning sprint of 🇬🇧 🇮🇲 @MarkCavendish .⏮ Revivez le dernier kilomètre de l'étape 6 et la victoire de 🇬🇧 🇮🇲 @MarkCavendish.#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/FCmEvDqgQfJuly 1, 2021
Jumbo-Visma rider misjudges finish of stage 6 to take eighth place
Manxman regrets the absence of Caleb Ewan after Australian crashed out on stage 3
Danish lead-out man on Deceuninck-QuickStep’s full team sprint train and Cavendish’s Tour renaissance
Alpecin-Fenix racer says team aren't giving up trying to beat Cavendish
Bora-Hansgrohe leader moves on from 2017 fallout with Cavendish and praises Manxman on his success
That's all from us today. Watch out for more news, including reaction from Nacer Bouhanni, Wilfried Peeters and Vincenzo Nibali.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for live coverage stage 7 of the Tour de France!
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