• Tour de France, Stage Six

Late crash hinders Cavendish

ESPN staff
July 4, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Mark Cavendish suffered a crash in the final 35km but did well to finish fourth © Getty Images
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Andre Greipel took victory in Stage Six of the 100th Tour de France ahead of Peter Sagan after a pulsating sprint finish in Montpellier, with Mark Cavendish recovering from a late crash to finish fourth.

Daryl Impey takes over Simon Gerrans as holder of the yellow jersey, becoming the first ever South African to lead Le Tour. Sagan will continue in the green, while Great Britain's Chris Froome sits eight seconds off the overall lead in seventh.

In another dramatic finish, Cavendish came off his saddle with 35 kilometres to go, seemingly tangling with members of the Belkin team before expending his efforts to catch up - even bunny-hopping a roundabout to avoid a further dust-up with the Europcar team car.

This was familiar territory for the Manxman Omega Pharma rider, who was also victorious on Le Tour's last visit to the city in 2011 and before that in 2009.

The 176.5-km stretch from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier comprised of mainly flat riding with one categorised climb - like Wednesday's route, this was very much a stage for the sprinters. Notorious for 'The Mistral' - a vicious wind - this stretch often proves troublesome for the peloton, particularly on the winding roads west to the finish.

Lotto's hope Jurgen van den Broeck had to withdraw from the race after suffering a knee injury in the huge crash at the end of Stage Five, which also proved the end for AG2R rider Maxime Bouet.

Luis Mate was the solitary breakaway rider, but was sucked back into the peloton at the 44km mark despite drawing out an early gap of five minutes.

All eyes were on the battle for the immediate sprint, a possible dress rehearsal for the finish 110km down the line. Lotto rider Greipel took the maximum 20 points on offer, Cavendish settling for second ahead of Katusha's Alexander Kristoff and green jersey leader Sagan (Cannondale).

Team Sky's Kanstantsin Siutsou took the only point on offer for the King of the Mountains race - still fronted by the polka-dot clad Pierre Rolland (Europcar).

2012 French National champion Nacer Bouhanni who had been troubled by illness, dropped four minutes off the back of the peloton before calling time on his efforts and withdrawing - shortly followed by Frederik Kessiakoff of Astana.

Inside the 80km mark, the pace of the peloton slackened - Team Sky, Omega and Orica setting the tempo, as all riders bunched together. Argos soon made their move for Marcel Kittel, who claimed victory in the opening stage where the Orica team bus got wedged under the finish line.

With 50km left, the peloton tightened up - each rider vying for front spot to avoid any potential collisions, which ultimately proved unavoidable for Cavendish; the 28-year-old had to remount showing a huge hole in his jersey.

Sky took up the running alongside Belkin with Froome's interest in mind as the pack became increasingly stretched in the final 15km. Astana leader Janez Brajkovic came off with 11km to go, ending his challenge for the day.1

Into the final five kilometres and five teams contested the lead, before the breakaway of Greipel, Sagan, Kittel and Cavendish contested the last 500m stretch - the German raising his arm in celebration as he crossed the line.

Stage Six, Aix-en-Provence - Montpellier
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 3:59:02
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano
4. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma
5. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
8. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R

General Classification after Stage Six
1. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 22:18:17
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky 0:00:03
3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:05
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma 0:00:06
6. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma
7. Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:08
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:14
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff

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