Team HTC-Columbia has rediscovered its mojo, delivering Mark Cavendish to his second consecutive sprint victory after a disappointing opening to the Tour de France. Leadout man Mark Renshaw once more showed exactly how it's done, maneuvering Cavendish through the traffic in the closing 500 meters before the Manx Missile jumped away for the win. American Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions was second, bouncing back from his injuries earlier in the week.
"Yesterday I was obviously very emotional," a smiling Cavendish said at the finish. "Today the team was once again incredibly strong. Bert Grabsch did a great job, as usual, and everyone got the train together. These guys are exceptional. Renshaw was amazing and all I had to do was follow him."
"I'm really happy and thanks again to the whole team," he added.
For Farrar, second place was not as disappointing today as it might otherwise be. Recovering steadily from his injuries in stage 2 to Spa, the Garmin sprinter showed that his legs are ready if not his leadout train.
"Of course I wanted to win but after the past few days I'm happy to be back," Farrar explained on French television. "I'm still not at one hundred percent but each day is getting better. Yesterday wasn't great, today was better, and next week I hope to be even better still."
While the diagnosis of a fractured wrist should have been news of the end of his Tour, Farrar admitted to a certain amount of stubbornness. "I was too dumb to quit after my crash," he joked.
The pack passes during the sixth stage of the Tour de France.
AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Le Soleil Est Roi
The sun was indeed king today as temperatures on the road reached nearly 100 degrees after a rainy start. Riders sought to keep cool any way they could, including stuffing ice packs in their jerseys or removing their jerseys altogether to be dipped in ice water in the team cars. On the longest stage of this year's Tour de France, the peloton was resigned to a long day of suffering in the saddle.
For a breakaway trio, there was no respite from the heat. With only three in the move, reaching the finish ahead of the main field was even less likely than in the two previous days. Nonetheless, they pressed on. Today's escapees were Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Matthieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne), and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
As their time gains and losses played out in typical fashion, the capture came first with a move by Dimitri Champion (AG2R La Mondiale) who bridged to the leaders along with Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom). On the category 4 C?te de la Croix de l'Arbre, Perget jumped clear to take the king of the mountains points and carry on with a solo big for victory in the closing 20km. His bid fell short, leaving a group of five to soldier on to the finish in Gueugnon.
"I think you need to give it a try," Champion said of his first attack in his first Tour de France. "The goal is to win, so you have to take chances when they come."
The sprinters' teams made the final capture with 10km to the line, setting the stage for the third bunch finish in a row and another battle royal among the leadout men trying to set up their finishers. In the end, it was Cavendish showing that he truly is back at the top of his game.
Fabian Cancellara conserved his lead in the overall classification while the GC favorites were pleased to simply get through a long, hot day without incident.
"I'm proud [of the jersey] and tomorrow will be another day in yellow," Cancellara said. "If I have the jersey after tomorrow I'll be even more proud, but if not I won't be sad. We'll have to see how the race goes, with the teams and different tactics."
Hushovd Loses Ground in Points Race
In the points competition, Thor Hushovd remains in the green jersey but with a disappointing tenth place finish today, he now leads double stage winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) by just two points. The big Norwegian had no excuses and admitted that his past two sprints have not been up to expectation.
"No, it wasn't a good sprint," he said simply. "I was well-placed on Lancaster's wheel but we were too far back."
"I think there will be a big fight all the way to Paris for this jersey," he explained. "I don't know with who, but it's going to be tough."
With several mountain stages on order, Hushovd should remain in green for the moment but as he said himself, anything could happen.
Stage 6 Results
- Mark Cavendish (THR) - 05:37:42
- Tyler Farrar (GRM) +00:00
- Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) +00:00
- Robbie McEwen (KAT) +00:00
- Gerald Ciolek (MRM) +00:00
- Sebastien Turgot (BBO) +00:00
- Fabian Cancellara (Sax) 28:37:30
- Geraint Thomas (SKY) +00:20
- Cadel Evans (BMC) +00:39
- Ryder HesJedal (GRM) +00:46
- Sylvain Chavanel (QST) +01:01
- Andy Schleck (SAX) +01:09
18. Lance Armstrong (RSH) +02:30
24. Levi Leipheimer (RSH) +02:53
43. Christopher Horner (RSH) +03:17
108. George Hincapie (BMC) +09:12
- Saxo Bank 85:56:25
- Garmin Transitions +00:05
- Sky Pro Cycling +00:19
- Astana +02:21
- BMC Racing +02:50
Overall Points Standings
- Thor Hushovd (CTT) - 118 Points
- Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) - 114 Points
- Robbie McEwen (KAT) - 105 Points
Best Young Rider
- Geraint Thomas 28:37:50
- Andy Schleck +00:49
- Roman Kreuziger +02:04
227.5K (141.4 miles) - Friday July 9
- This is the longest stage of this year's Tour
- Gueugnon is a first-time stage town
- Sprint Points at: Saint-Fargeau, Moulins Engilbert, Luzy
- Mountain Passes: Cote de Bouhy located at 69.5 kilometers - 2.9km climb to 4 percent grade - Category 4; Cote de La Chapelle-Saint Andre located at 91.5 kilometers - 2.1km climb to 4.3 percent - Cat. 4; Cote des Montarons at 179.5 kilometers - 3.6km climb to 3.6 percent - Cat. 4; Cote de la Croix de l'Arbre at 204.5 kilometers - 2.3km climb to 4.5 percent - Cat. 4