Tour de France 2012: Stage 6

The last sprinter-friendly stage

Tour de France 2012: Stage 6

Today's race begins in the Champagne capital of France, Épernay, all 207.5 km (129 miles) to the town of Metz (not the Champagne capital of France, and therefore not worth describing).

Tour Talk
Today marks the last sprinter-friendly stage before we get into the more mountainous stages of the Tour (very unsprinter-friendly). Today is the day for the sprinters to get their final say!

Will Mark Cavendish (Isle of Man) make up for his last couple of sprints? (You effing better, Cav!)

Will Matty Goss (Australia) finally get the better of Cav?

Will André Greipel (Germany) continue his German reign? (Too much?)

Or will Peter Sagan (Slovakia) get the best of all three of them? (Ha!)

Stage 6, ladies and gentlemen …

Stage Highlights
• We open the stage with several more punctured tires, and a small crash. Please don't let this be a foreshadowing of the stage to come.
• A four-man break away has been established consisting of riders David Zabriskie (USA), Karsten Kroon (Netherlands), Davide Malacarne (Italy), and Romain Zingle (Belgium).
• Another crash in the peloton at 35 km (22 miles) into stage 6. All of the riders are racing again, but Greipel has been injured. Greipel will be riding extra cautious after this; if he wins today's stage-end sprint, he will have pulled a hat trick (three wins in a row, keep up) and would be one of only 11 riders in history to do so.
• The peloton is within half a mile of the intermediate sprint finish line. Team Vacansoleil moves up front for their sprinter, Kenny Van Hummel, and team Sky moves up front for Cav and Edvald Boasson Hagen/Eddy Bo/EBH/Eddy "The Boss." Goss comes out ahead of Cav! And Sagan is close! I'm almost happy for Goss, who seems to be strongest in the intermediate sprints; usually coming in a close second, but what is up with Cav lately?
• Of the break away riders, Zabriskie is the first over the one category-4 climb, earning himself 1 point toward the polka dot jersey. The peloton approaches the climb keeping up their speed, when suddenly the group is at a standstill. A huge crash occurs going up the hill. Greipel was in the crash. The peloton eases its pace out of respect for the victims of the crash. Greipel is bandaged and bleeding. This is his second crash today. Word comes in via Lotto-Belisol's Directeur Sportif Herman Frison, "He [Greipel] has pain in his shoulder, and he won't take part in the sprint today."
• As key teams start to move up to the front of the peloton to prepare to catch the break away riders and lead out for a sprint finish, another horrific crash takes out several key riders, stalling them for several minutes - enough to influence the overall results. Some riders make it back onto their bikes, but many more riders are stuck among the wreckage. Frank Schleck (potential RadioShack Nissan Trek team leader) is among the fallen.
Ryder Hesjedal (Canada), Garmin's team leader, is also a victim of the crash. He is badly injured, but worst of all, ends up losing 13 minutes and 38 seconds by the end of the stage. Sliding from a respectable ninth place overall to a dismal and discouraging 108th place. He will not be able to get back in contention for the yellow jersey, which would have been an especially proud moment for the Canadian, as he has just come from winning the Giro D'Italia last month. The Tour de France would have been his second Grand Tour win in a row.
• Cav has also been affected by the crash. Later confirmed by his post-stage tweet: "Lucky to just miss 2 flying bikes in todays massive crash, but punctured just to be part of the chaos." Can't say he's not a team player. Sagan, Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), and Bradley Wiggins (Britain) all managed to dodge the chaos that was crash three.
• It looks as though Greipel might try for a sprint after all, as his team Lotto-Belisol pulls up front for a lead-out train.
• The lead-out trains are formed and Goss, Greipel, and Sagan sprint for the finish. Greipel was close, but because of his weakened state (that's what I'm going with), Sagan was able to beat him to the finish. But don't go getting all excited just yet. Sagan may have won a sprint, but let's all just bear in mind that he was racing against Goss, who very likely expended all of his energies in the intermediate sprint, Greipel, who could very well be half dead at this point, and, let us also bear in mind, that Sagan was not racing against Cav. Ergo, he was practically unchallenged, and even if he does deserve the win, his victory poses are stupid. So there's that.

Post-stage, I went in search of information on the state of Ryder. He hadn't tweeted, and, to my surprise, his teammates (who had tweeted), spent little time elaborating on the massive blow for their team. Namely, that they basically no longer have a team leader. Right, well done guys. Ugh.

Jersey Lineup End of Stage 6
• Yellow Jersey (best overall): Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RadioShack Nissan Trek
• White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
• Green Jersey (best sprinter): Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
• Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains): Michael Morkov (Denmark) Saxo Bank Top 10 Finalists After Stage 6
1) Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RNT
2) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
3) Sylvain Chavanel (France) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
5) Denis Menchov (Russia) Katusha
6) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
7) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
8) Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
9) Andréas Klöden (Germany) RadioShack Nissan Trek
10) Maxime Monfort (Belgium) RadioShack Nissan Trek

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