Words: A.S.O. / CYCLING NEWS
Germany’s André Greipel claimed stage 6 in Reims – the town where the kings of France were crowned – as his compatriot Marcel Kittel was left down by a mechanical in the last two kilometers. Vincenzo Nibali retained the lead on another rained soaked day with echelons on the roads chosen to remember World War I in the presence of the French president François Hollande.
our riders in the lead
Stage 6 was dedicated to the memory of the soldiers from World War I one hundred years after the conflict started, visiting former battle fields including the “Chemin des Dames” where the president of the French Republic François Hollande paid his yearly visit to the Tour de France. Tom Leezer (Belkin), Luis Maté (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (IAM) and Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) attacked from the gun and secured a maximum time gap of 4.15 at km 21. The Giant-Shimano team led by “breakaway killer” Ji Cheng stabilized the deficit of the peloton around three minutes for most of the race.
Three abandons due to crashes
A crash occurred with 79km to go. French champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) who was racing on home soil in Picardy went down but the fall had worse consequences for Xavier Zandio, so Team Sky lost one more rider the day after Chris Froome called it a quit. Together with Zandio, Egor Silin (Katusha) abandoned the Tour de France. Another crash split the bunch when echelons were formed in the crosswinds at the “Chemin des Dames” with 65km to go when Omega Pharma-Quick Step put the hammer down. One of the riders involved, Jesus Hernandez (Tinkoff), also withdrew from the race, leaving Alberto Contador without his closest and most faithful team-mate.
Kwiatkowski tries at 1km
Tom Leezer (Belkin), Luis Maté (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (IAM) and Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) got reined in one by one within 20 km to go, Maté being the last one after 182km of racing away from the peloton. Omega Pharma-Quick Step rode very hard in the last ten kilometers prior to an attack by their leader Michal Kwiatkowski just before the flamme rouge as Marcel Kittel disappeared from the fight because of a mechanical. The Polish champion was reeled in with 300 metres to go when André Greipel launched his sprint from far. The German champion resisted to Alexander Kristoff’s rush to claimed his sixth victory at the Tour de France. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) rode safely home with the yellow jersey at the difference of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) crossed the line with a deficit of 59 seconds.