Tour de France: History repeats as Cavendish wins stage 6 in Châteauroux

Mark Cavendish’s extraordinary comeback continued as he won his second bunch sprint of this year’s Tour de France on stage six at Châteauroux.

The Manxman stormed past the Alpecin-Fenix duo of Jasper Philipsen and Tim Merlier to take the win ahead of Philipsen in second, while Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) finished third.

The victory is Cavendish’s 50th in Grand Tours, and brings him to just two wins away from Eddy Merckx Tour de France record of 34.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) finished safely in the peloton to retain the yellow jersey, and he again played a key part in the lead-out at the finish. He instigated a lead-out train on the opposite side of the road from where Deceuninck-QuickStep had formed theirs, and the two trains competed side by side as the line approached.

Merlier took over for Alpecin-Fenix with Philipsen on his wheel, prompting Cavendish to surf onto their wheel from his lead-out Michael Mørkøv.

Both Philipsen and Merlier sprinted for the line, but Cavendish proved quicker than both and had the presence of mind to place his hands onto his head in an apparent reference to how he celebrated his victory here in Châteauroux 13 years ago, in 2008.

In fact, this is the third Tour stage Cavendish has won in Châteauroux, having also done so in 2011, and in the post-race interview, he compared the different approaches to the finish.

"It seems like every time we finish here it's been a different line. In 2008 it was uphill a bit, and I think it was further down the road. In 2011, it was still uphill a bit but it was short from the finish. Here, it was kind of downhill/flat.

"It's been ten years since I last won here. It's pretty special."

Once again he had his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates to thank, who took control of the peloton 2km from the finish with Julian Alaphilippe, and later Davide Ballerini and Michael Mørkøv completing the lead-out.

"We were talking about what to do in the final because there are so many strong sprint teams here all wanting to go for the front. So to take it on is a big ask, you always get swamped at the finish.

"As usual it was the other team that shared the work with us, Alpecin-Fenix, who came with the strongest team in the end. The wind was coming from the right, and Michael [Mørkøv] left the left-hand 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.

"But I'm so happy with that. You see the guys, you see how much they work all day. The world champion Julian Alaphilippe just burying himself in the last kilometre, that's so special."

The victory will inevitably prompt interest in Cavendish potentially beating Eddy Merckx's Tour de France record of 34 stage wins, a record that had for several years looked like an impossible feat for Cavendish to achieve, but now looks increasingly attainable.

Cavendish remains reluctant to talk about that, however, batting back allusions to the record asked in the post-race interview by joking: "Don't say the name, don't say the name!"

"I'm not thinking about anything. Again, I just won a stage of the Tour de France. If that was my first stage or if that was my 32nd stage, I'd just won a stage of the Tour. That's what people work their whole lives for. I'm very, very happy, that's all I've got to say. If I'm good enough to win 50 more, I'm good enough to win 50 more. If I'm good enough never to win again here, so be it."

How it unfolded

Stage 6 got underway in pleasant conditions, with no hint of any rainfall that partially affected yesterday's time trial.

After Deceuninck-QuickStep immediately shut down to the first attempted breakaway of the day featuring a couple of Lotto-Soudal and AG2R Citroën riders each, an eight-man group made up of a surprisingly high calibre of riders got a gap over the peloton.

Rather than the usual assortment of obscure names from small wildcard teams, this group contained classics stars Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) and Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), multiple Tour stage winners Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM), plus Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert) and Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix).

Another strange thing about this break was how many of the top sprinters' teams were represented in it, leaving Groupama-FDJ and Arkéa-Samsic to try and prevent it going clear on behalf of their sprinters Arnaud Démare and Nacer Bouhanni respectively, with some help from Qhubeka-NextHash, who apparently weren't happy with having missed the break.

Although initially posing a real danger by riding together, the break soon lost its cohesion. Asgreen was left to single-handedly drag half of the group back when the break split in two, and upon regaining contact several riders refused to take their turns, meaning their advantage slipped from what had been almost a minute to barely a few seconds.

Van Avermaet was still very keen, however, and attacked alone away from the rest just as they were about to be caught from the bunch.

From the bunch, Roger Kluge (Lotto-Soudal) then attacked in pursuit of Van Avermaet, spending several kilometres in no-man's land before joining the Belgian, a combination the bunch was happy with as they sat up and stopped chasing.

So the definitive break of the day was formed after 40km of racing, after which the stage settled down into the familiar pattern, with the leading pair out front and Alpecin-Fenix and Deceuninck-QuickStep setting a steady pace in the peloton.

The gap remained steady throughout the day, mostly staying above one minute and never exceeding two minutes, as the peloton kept the leading duo well within their sight.

With just two riders in the break, there were plenty of points in the green jersey classification for the sprinters to contest at the day's intermediate sprint, 56km from the finish. It was a messy affair, with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) wagging his finger at someone despite winning the sprint for third, and Cavendish's Deceuninck-QuickStep lead-out man Michael Mørkøv veering across the road to prevent Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) from a clear run-in, and thus taking fourth-place in the sprint ahead of Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) and Cavendish in a blanket finish.

The acceleration in the build-up to that sprint brought the gap to the break down to under one minute, and the peloton could see them on the long, straight roads leading towards the finish at Châteauroux, that might have seen crosswinds wreak havoc had conditions not been as calm as they were today.

The peloton delayed making the catch, wary perhaps of encouraging counter-attacks, and with 10km to go the gap was still 40 seconds.

That left the peloton with work to do in the final kilometres, and Van Avermaet and Kluge still evidently had energy left in reserve as they managed to retain an advantage.

Thankfully there was none of the carnage that characterised the first bunch sprint of the Tour three days ago, with Arnaud Démare's Groupama-FDJ lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri the only faller in the finale.

The catch was made 2.5km from the finish, soon after which Deceuninck-QuickStep took control with their three-man lead out to deliver Cavendish to yet another Tour stage victory. 

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:17:36
2Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
4Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
7Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
8Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
9Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
10Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
11Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
12Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
13Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash
14Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
15Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
16Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
17Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
18Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
19Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
20Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
21Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
22Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
23André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
24Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
25Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
26Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
27Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
28Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
29Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
30Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
31Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
32Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team
33Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
34Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
35Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
36Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Qhubeka-NextHash
37Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
38Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
39Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
40Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
41Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
42Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
43Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies
44Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
45Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
46Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
47Julien Simon (Fra) TotalEnergies
48David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
49Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
50Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
51Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
52Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
53Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
54Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
55Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
56Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
57Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies
58Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies
59Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange
60Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team
61Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech
62Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
63Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
64Carlos Barbero (Spa) Qhubeka-NextHash
65Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash
66Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
67Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
68Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange
69Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
70Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
71Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
72Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
73Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
74Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
75Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
76Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
77Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
78Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo
79Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team
80Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
81Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
82Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
83Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo
84Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
85Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
86Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo
87Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo
88Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
89Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
90Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
91Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Team BikeExchange
92Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
93Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
94Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
95Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
96Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
97Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
98Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
99Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
100Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
101Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
102Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
103Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
104Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
105Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
106Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
107Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
108Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
109Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
110Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) TotalEnergies
111Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis
112Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
113Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
114Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Qhubeka-NextHash
115Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech
116Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
117Victor de la Parte (Spa) TotalEnergies
118Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
119Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation
120Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
121Tony Martin (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
122Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
123Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
124Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:00:22
125Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:24
126Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
127Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:00:40
128Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:46
129Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:52
130Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
131Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
132Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:01:03
133Simon Geschke (Ger) Cofidis 0:01:06
134Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:07
135Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo
136Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
137Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
138Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
139Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
140Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
141Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
142Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
143Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team
144Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:13
145Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:51
146Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
147Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka-NextHash
148Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
149Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
150Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
151Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
152Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
153Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
154Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
155Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
156Simon Clarke (Aus) Qhubeka-NextHash
157Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
158Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates
159Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix
160Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
161Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team
162Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
163Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis
164Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
165Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
166Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
167Sean Bennett (USA) Qhubeka-NextHash
168Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
169Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
170Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
171Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
172Jeremy Cabot (Fra) TotalEnergies
173Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange 0:01:56
174Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:13
175Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious 0:02:30
176Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ 0:03:42
177Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis 0:04:24
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Sprint 1 - Luçay-le-Mâle, km. 104.3
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 20
2Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal 17
3Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 15
4Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 13
5Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 11
6Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 10
7Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 9
8Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 8
9Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 7
10Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 6
11Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 5
12Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 4
13Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 3
14Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 2
15Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ 1
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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 50
2Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 30
3Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 20
4Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 18
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 16
6Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM 14
7Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 12
8Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 10
9Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 8
10Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 7
11Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 6
12Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal 5
13Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash 4
14Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation 3
15Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 2
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Mountain 1 (Cat. 4) Côte de Saint-Aignan km. 72.6
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 1
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Young Riders
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 3:17:36
2Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
3Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
4Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
5Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
6Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
7David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
8Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
9Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange
10Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
11Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
12Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
13Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
14Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo
15Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
16Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
17Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
18Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
19Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
20Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech
21Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:46
22Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:01:03
23Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 0:01:07
24Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
25Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:01:51
26Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
27Sean Bennett (USA) Qhubeka-NextHash
28Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
29Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:13
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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alpecin-Fenix 9:52:48
3Team DSM
4Lotto Soudal
5Team BikeExchange
6Israel Start-up Nation
9Movistar Team