The 2005 world champion has won his first stage since the 2005 Tour de France. The top 10 in Bourg-en-Bresse is:
1. Tom Boonen (BEL) QSI - 199.5km in 5h20’59" (37.291km/h)
2. Oscar Freire (ESP) RAB
3. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
4. Sebastian Chavanel (FRA) FDJ
5. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
6. Daniele Bennati (ITA) LAM
7. Robert Forster (GER) GST
8. Robert Hunter (RSA) BAR
9. Romain Feillu (FRA) AGR
10. Murilo Fischer (BRA) LIQ
Tom Boonen has won again. He came to the front in the final 100m and beat Freire and Zabel to claim his first Tour stage victory since 2005.
Every sprint specialist is lining up to charge for the line. Rabobank is now in control thanks to Flecha...
Milram, Credit Agricole and Quickstep are in charge of the bunch with 2km to go. Now is Knees doing the work for Milram but he’s just peeled off...
Wegmann (GST) led the peloton under the 3km to go banner. Now Tossato (QSI) takes control. Behind him is a Credit Agricole rider...
Liquigas, Predictor, Milram, Rabobank and Quickstep are the teams in charge of the peloton with 4km to go.
Wiggins is the only rider not in the peloton. He has been dropped in the final 5km of the stage.
The lead-out begins. Wiggins was caught 7km from the finish and now Johan Vansummeren from the Predictor-Lotto team is at the front of the peloton.
Unless we see some real bravado in the final 8km the sixth stage is destined to end in a bunch sprint. The peloton is not racing at a furious pace, Wiggins remains 10" ahead and the specialists for the sprint are going to be relatively fresh after a fairly slow ride to Bourg-en-Bresse.
Credit Agricole has said it’ll open the door for Dean if Hushovd is feeling the same as he was this morning.
T-Mobile is working for Eisel. Predictor for McEwen. Gerolsteiner for Forster. Liquigas for Pozzato. Milram for Zabel. Barloworld for Hunter. Rabobank for Freire... etc.
Wiggins is about to surrender. He’s looking behind and although he has less than 10km to ride he knows that the peloton is moment away from catching him. There are eight Quickstep riders coming to the front of the bunch.
The peloton is now breathing down the neck of Wiggins. The stage leader is within sight of the main pack and while the deficit is 30" it’s only a matter of moment before the escape is over. The consolation prize for the Cofidis rider? The title of The Most Aggressive Rider in stage six.
As it passed under the 15km to go banner, the peloton was 50" shy of Wiggins.
It is clear that Wiggins will not be able to hold off the peloton. He has been at the front of the stage on his own for over 180km. The sprint teams are lining up at the head of the peloton and preparing to set it up for a bunch kick. With 15km to go, the advantage of the Cofidis rider is 1’10".
Hans Holczer, the manager of the Gerolsteiner team, told LeTour.fr an hour ago that his squad would only contribute to the pace of the chase at the very end of the stage. The hope was to set Robert Forster up for a crack at claiming his first stage win. True to his word, the light blue jerseys of the German squad are now at the head of the pack that’s now 1’25" behind Wiggins.
The deficit of the peloton with 20km to go is 1’40".
The advantage of the stage leader was 1’20" with 25km to go. The last time check has Wiggins 1’50" ahead of the peloton.
The last time a stage of the Tour de France concluded at the site of today’s finish was in 2002. The top five of the 18th stage five years ago was:
1. Thor Hushovd (NOR)
2. Christophe Mengin (FRA) at same time
3. Jakob Piil (DEN) at 5"
4. Leon van Bon (NED) at 33"
5. Jörg Jaksche (GER) at same time
The bunch was within sight of the stage leader and then the pace of the chase eased significantly. Wiggins is now 25km from the finish with a lead of 1’20".
Bradley Wiggins is almost within sight of the peloton. He has been on the attack since the second kilometer. The last time check had the Cofidis rider 1’20" ahead of the peloton which is at the 171km mark.
In the last 10 minutes the teams at the front of the peloton are:
Credit Agricole - in the wind for 34% of the time
Quickstep - 28%
Milram - 19%
T-Mobile - 19%
At the 166km mark, the peloton is 2’30" behind Bradley Wiggins who has been baking at the front of the bunch for 164km. He’s just about cooked although he still appears to be composed even if the stage win is slipping out of his grip.
The winner of this year’s Gent-Wevelgem, Marcus Burghardt is now setting the pace of the head of the peloton which is now 2’40" behind Wiggins. The manager of the T-Mobile squad Bob Stapleton told LeTour.fr recently that the protected rider for a sprint today will be the Austrian recruit Bernhard Eisel.
1. Bradley Wiggins (COF) 6pts/6"
2. Steven De Jongh (QSI) 4pts/4" - at 3’00"
3. Gert Steegmans (QSI) 2pts/2"...
Boonen didn’t bother contesting the sprint now that he has the virtual lead of the points classification.
The head of the peloton has a distinct blue hue now that it’s approaching the third intermediate sprint of the stage. Tom Boonen is intent on reclaiming the green jersey today. He has been led to the line at the first two sprints in stage six and promptly claimed four points at each...
Of the riders leading the peloton, there is just one man from the Credit Agricole team setting the tempo. France Television has just reported that the French squad has been on the front of the chase group - that’s now 3’45" behind Wiggins - for 27% of the last 10 minutes. T-Mobile riders have been in the wind for 25% or that time and Quickstep 19%...
Wiggins has been at the front of the stage for 158km which means that three riders from the Cofidis team have been on the attack for more than any other squad. The breakdown of time spent in escapees after five and 3/4 stages is:
Sylvain Chavanel (COF) - on the attack for 300km
Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) - on the attack for 230km
Nicolas Vogondy (AGR) - on the attack for 230km
Stephane Auge (COF) - on the attack for 188km
Bradley Wiggins (COF) - on the attack for 158km... and counting!
With Milram, T-Mobile, Credit Agricole and Quickstep now setting the pace at the front of the peloton, Wiggins’ lead has diminished rapidly. He’s now 3’50" ahead of the bunch which is at the 153km mark.
The work being done by Charteau (C.A) at the head of the peloton is having an effect. The latest check had the peloton 4’15" behind Wiggins.
A broken spoke was enough to prompt Wiggins to remove his rear wheel and, cool as a cucumber, toss it away as though it was a worthless piece of carbon. It took only a matter of seconds for his Cofidis mechanic to replace it and the stage leader is back on his bike with an advantage of 5’00".
Wiggins has been in the lead of the stage for 150km. He has just stopped to get a new rear wheel after breaking a spoke.
The average speed for the fourth hour of stage six is 36.0km/h. The average for the first four hours is 36.3km/h.
At the top of the Cote de Braneion (138km) the points were won by:
1. Bradley Wiggins (COF) 3pts
2. Juan Manuel Garate (QSI) 2pts
3. Sylvain Chavanel (COF) 1pt
The Frenchman will wear the polka-dot jersey again in stage seven.
The sacrificial rider of the Credit Agricole team is the winner of this year’s Tour de Langkawi, Anthony Charteau. He is back at the front of the peloton and leading the pursuit of Wiggins at the moment. The latest time check had the peloton 4’50" behind Wiggins.
Wiggins refuses to concede the stage without a fight. Everyone is saying that it will end in a sprint but the British rider has pushed his lead back to 5’35" after it dropped as low as 3’10" at the 2nd intermediate sprint.
As the peloton begins its ascent of the Cote de Braneion two Cofidis riders have come to the front. They did this on the first climb of the stage and Chavanel promptly claimed second place in the sprint to the top... expect the same again soon.
“We’re going to give it another go in the sprint today,” said the manager of the T-Mobile squad, Bob Stapleton when contacted by LeTour.fr recently. “We’re focused on setting up the sprint Bernhard Eisel today. Mark [Cavendish] has had a rough couple of days and he’s pretty tired so we’re going to shift focus a little. Both Marcus Burghardt and Bernhard Eisel are good right now and they have the form to give it a shot in the sprint.
“I think our GC guys look really good. Mick Rogers is fine and Kirchen was fourth yesterday... and I’m happy with how they are riding.
All the stages have been pretty damn exciting. Any fan will have a hard time faulting any of the finishes: every day of this Tour de France has offered something fun to watch and it’s also been unpredictable. There’s a lot of positive energy in the team and we’ll keep seeing what we can do to take advantage of any situation.”
The second climb of the sixth stage is the Cote de Brancion which is 3.5km long with an average gradient of 3.6 percent. Wiggins is currently on the ascent.
The peloton is now being led by riders from the T-Mobile and AG2R teams.
At the sprint, the peloton was 3’10" behind the stage leader. The dramatic drop of Wiggins’ advantage was largely the result of the work done by Quickstep as it led Boonen to the line. Since then the urgency of the peloton has eased while the stage leader has increased his. The latest check has Wiggins 5’00" ahead with the peloton at the 132km mark.
Wiggins is now in Chapaze at the 131km mark. He was 3’10" ahead of the peloton when the bunch reached the 127km mark but an acceleration by the stage leader has resulted in a gain of time: he’s now 3’50" ahead.
At the 127km mark, the points were won by:
1. Bradley Wiggins (COF) 6pts/6"
2. Tom Boonen (QSI) 4pts/4"
3. Erik Zabel (MRM) 2pts/"
The deficit of the peloton to the stage leader was 3’10".
Boonen is the virtual leader of the green jersey classification.
The Quickstep team is committing itself to chasing sprint points. There are four members of the team leading Boonen to the line in Cormatin. And they got the prize they were after: Boonen 2nd at the sprint, Zabel... 3rd.
Bradley Wiggins has been at the front of the stage for 125km. He is about to cross the line for the 2nd intermediate sprint (at Cormatin, 127km).
Nick Nuyens of the Cofidis team has just dropped behind the peloton to consult the race doctor.
With the peloton 5km shy of the site for the second intermediate sprint, it was 5’00" behind Wiggins.
Wiggin’s is now at the 122km mark. He has been on his own at the front of the stage for 120km and is five kilometers from the second intermediate sprint.
Wiggins is no longer the virtual leader of the Tour de France. He is now 5’15" ahead of the peloton. The Cofidis rider began the stage in 105th place, 5’40" behind Cancellara; he began his attack at the 2km mark and reached a maximum gain of 16’30".
“I think we’ll try and set it up again for Robert Forster,” said the directeur sportif of the Gerolsteiner team, Hans Holczer. “I’m sure that it’ll be a bunch sprint today. We’re going to concentrate on setting it up… but only in the last part of the stage will we start moving forward. I think there are some more successful sprinters in the bunch than our guys so we’ll wait until the final before we come forward. At the moment it’s not necessary as the gap is coming down quickly thanks to the work of CSC and Quickstep and that suits me just fine.
“We don’t have the responsibility that Quickstep has. They are chasing stages but also trying to get Tom [Boonen] in the green jersey.
“Robert [Forster] has a bit of stress but he doesn’t feel bad. I didn’t hear anything negative from him this morning and he feels positive for the final.”
The deficit of the bunch that’s now at the 115km mark is 6’00".
The bunch is reeling in Wiggins. At the 110km mark it was 6’35".
Stuart O’Grady (CSC) has been at the front of the peloton’s pursuit lately. He began his cycling career as a track specialist. He was a world champion in the team pursuit in 1993 and 1995; right now he’s trying to pull back the advantage of the reigning world champion in the 4,000m track event. The latest check has the peloton 7’02" behind Wiggins.
The average speed for the third hour of racing is 35.6km/h. The average for the first three hours combined is 36.4km/h.
With the peloton at the 102.5km mark, its deficit to Wiggins is 7’35".
After his fall in the feedzone, Enrico Degano of the Barloworld team has been forced to abandon his first Tour de France. There are now 182 riders remaining in the 2007 Tour.
The stage leader is riding in the big chainring and his chain is position in the middle of the rear cluster. His cadence is at 90rpm at the moment.
Christian Vande Velde of the CSC team has just ridden up to Quickstep’s Cedric Vasseur to have a chat. The two squads had been setting a rather rapid tempo since the 70km mark... but after the brief discussion the pace dropped a little. It seems that the order has gone out to keep calm now that Wiggins is within eight minutes of the peloton.
Wiggins has been in the lead of the stage for 100km. He never had anyone along to help with the pace setting in The Escape of the day but that didn’t bother him: the Olympic pursuit gold medallist from the Athens Games is now less than 100km from the line and has a lead of 8’02".
There are a number of riders from the CSC and Quickstep teams swapping off at the front of the peloton (currently 8’35" behind Wiggins). Also taking turns at the front is one Lampre rider.
After his crash in the feedzone one of Barloworld’s sprint specialists Enrico Degano is still sitting on the road. He is being tended to by the race’s medical staff and doesn’t appear to be very comfortable at all...
The bunch is at the 89km mark, the feedzone for today’s 199.5km stage. There has been a crash in the peloton. The rider down is Enrico Degano.
The gap between leader and peloton is down to 9’10". The temperatures of the first week have been fairly mild but today the sun is shining brightly and it’s hot enough to cause the bitumen to bubble.
Wiggins now realizes that the peloton is closing in on him. He had been riding in the small chainring but he’s now shifted to the big ring and is pushing on to try and give Cofidis that elusive stage victory... the team has tried repeatedly in the first week of the 2007 Tour. It has achieved days in the polka-dot top and both Auge and Chavanel have been voted Most Aggressive of stages in this year’s race. Right now, however, the advantage of Wiggins is dropping rapidly. The last check has him 10’25" ahead.
Riders from the Astana squad have spend most of the day hovering around the rear of the peloton. Vinokourov was in hospital until late yesterday evening having his wounds stitched and dressed. He is covered in bandages today but, according to a team official, was in good spirits at breakfast this morning.
The peloton has just arrived at the feedzone at the 89.5km mark. The CSC and Quickstep teams have received support from a Lampre rider at the head of the peloton whiich now 11’48" behind Wiggins.
Just after the first intermediate sprint, Wiggins had his maximum advantage over the peloton of 17’30". That was around the 57km mark. The lead has dropped to 14’10" thanks to the efforts of riders from both the Quickstep and CSC teams.
Wiggins has about 117km to ride. He’s been in the front of the sixth stage since the two kilometer mark. His maximum gain was 17’00". He is now 14’45" ahead of the peloton and has arrived in the Saone-et-Loire department.
The advantage of Wiggins has dropped to 15’55" at the 66km mark.
The peloton is now strung out in one long line and the speed has picked up significantly. The pursuit of Wiggins began with the bunch was at the 64.5km mark. The riders responsible for the pace setting are Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) and Cedric Vasseur (QSI).
With the peloton 17’00" behind, it is time for the pursuit of Wiggins to begin. There are riders from CSC and Quickstep at the head of the bunch and the pace has clearly picked up.
Wiggins has covered 36km in the second hour of racing. The average speed for the first two hours is 36.8km/h.
By taking the second place points at the intermediate sprint, Tom Boonen has equalled Erik Zabel’s collection of points for the green jersey classification.
Cancellara has returned to the rear of the peloton, unclicked from the pedals and retrieved the Cervelo Soloist bike that he recently swapped for another.
At the top of the climb, the yellow jersey stopped to swap bikes. Cancellara and his CSC colleagues are now wearing the yellow ’dossards’ denoting their position as leaders of the team classification.
At the top of the first climb, the peloton’s deficit to the stage leader was 15’05".
Despite having a team-mate in the lead of the stage, three Cofidis riders were recently setting the pace of the peloton. It was only as they approached the first climb of the day.
The points for the Cote de Grandmont were won by:
1. Bradley Wiggins (COF) 3pts
2. Sylvain Chavanel (COF) 2pts
3. Juan Manuel Garate (QSI) 1pt
The peloton has finally reached the site of the first intermediate sprint. The points in Bligny-sur-Ouche (at 51.5km) were claimed by:
1. Bradley Wiggins (COF) 6pts/6"
2. Tom Boonen (QSI) 4pts/4" - at 15’25"
3. Robbie Hunter (BAR) 2pts/2"
“At the moment it’s not a problem for anyone that Bradley is leading," said the directeur sportif of the Cofidis squad Francis Londersele about Bradley Wiggins. "It is a shame that he doesn’t have two or three other riders who are low down the general classification along with him for this escape. That’s what we thought would happen before the start this morning. I don’t understand why the peloton didn’t let Grivko push on with his counter-attack. He’s 2’40” behind Cancellara.
“Wiggins isn’t wasting a lot of energy right now," said Londersele. "He’s got the chain in the small chainring and it’s akin to a training session for him.
“For him to finish alone, he must build up a lead of at least 15 minutes and then he has to expect that the sprinters won’t bother with a pursuit because they have different interests today. Rest is a big priority after yesterday’s tough stage and the mountains of tomorrow will be on their mind.”
Wiggins’ lead is now over 17 minutes. He is close to cresting the top of the cote de Grandmont at the 55km mark.
Wiggins is currently 15’40" ahead of the peloton. This is the biggest lead of any escape so far in this year’s Tour. The Cofidis team has been particularly aggressive in the first week, with Stephane Auge and Sylvain Chavanel both featuring in attacks in recent days.
The biggest leads of the five stage are:
Stage one - 6’00"
Stage two - 5’55"
Stage three - 13’50"
Stage four - 4’00"
Stage five - 14’45"
Wiggins is about to collect six points for the intermediate sprint in Bligny-sur-Ouche at the 51.5km mark. He has been at the front of the stage for 49.5km.
The average speed for the first hour of racing in stage six is 37.6km/h. The directeur sportif of the Cofidis squad has just told LeTour.fr that the rider on the attack, Bradley Wiggins, is currently riding at around 31km/h. But it’s good enough for him to increase his lead over the peloton. The last check has the British rider 15’40" ahead of the bunch.
Wiggins has pushed his leading margin up to 14’00".
Wiggins has given Cofidis the virtual lead for the second day in a row. Following Chavanel’s effort en route to Joigny, his team-mate is now well clear of the bunch. The last time check had Wiggins 11’20" ahead of the peloton.
The peloton is letting Wiggins bake himself out in the front of the sixth stage. He attacked at the 2km mark and is now in Sainte-Sabine at the 38km mark. The last time check had him 9’30" ahead of the pack.
The peloton is now in Pouilly-en-Auxois at the 27.5km mark. It is 9’30" behind the lone escapee, Bradley Wiggins of the Cofidis squad.
“There was a lot if urgency in the peloton,” said T-Mobile leader, Mick Rogers about the stage to Joigny. “It was a tricky rather than tough stage, but it still brought about the first selection of the Tour so far – albeit a large one… we had five riders in the lead group. That shows that things are motoring along nicely, but the first real test will come on Saturday when we hit the Col de la Colombiere.
”While we all managed to stay upright and steer clear of danger there were riders coming to grief everywher. The most dangerous section was the rapid descent into the finish – there were plenty of hairpin pins and on descents like that you have to be very careful. I could see a few riders up ahead of me overcooking it on the hairpins and veering of the road. It would be so frustrating to crash out of the Tour at this early stage!
”We are still chasing a stage win, but was great to see Kim Kirchen trying his luck in the end sprint today - fourth is not a bad stage result. Kim’s been on fire in recent weeks, and I could see at our Pyrenees training camp that he was climbing very well.”
The peloton is 7’40" behind Wiggins (COF) at the 24km mark.
The 183 riders remaining in the 2007 Tour de France represent 26 countries.
The breakdown is:
39 – Spain. Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (AGR) abandoned during stage one after a crash; Xabier Zandio abandoned during stage four because of injuries sustained in a crash in stage one.
34 – France. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) didn’t start stage five after fracturing his elbow in a fall early in stage four. Geoffroy Lequartre (COF) didn’t start stage six after being caught up in a crash in stage five.
19 – Germany
18 – Italy
13 – Belgium
7 – The Netherlands
6 – USA and Russia
5 – Great Britain, Switzerland and Australia. Brett Lancaster (MRM) abandoned during the fifth stage.
4 – Kazakhstan
3 – Austria and Colombia
2 – Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway and Ukraine
1 – South Africa, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden
Lithuania had one reprentative but Toomas Vaitkus didn’t start stage three because of a broken thumb sustained in a crash at the end of stage two.
One of the Discovery Channel riders smashed into the back of the Bouygues Telecom team car yesterday, breaking the rear window in the process. The incident that involved Benjamin Noval happened near the end of the fifth stage and was the result of sudden braking by the French squad’s driver.
Noval has facial injuries and cuts to his arms. He is now at the rear of the peloton and consulting the race doctor.
When Thor Hushovd won the sprint in Joigny in stage four, he gave a lot of credit to his New Zealand team-mate for the work he did in the lead-out. Today might be an opportunity for the Kiwi champion to show his colors according to the Credit Agricole directeur sportif Serge Beucherie. “If Thor is not great, then the door is open for Julian Dean to try his luck in the sprint.
“It’s now really difficult to maintain the fight for the green jersey because Zabel has a lot of experience but we never know; the Tour is really long, even if there are only a few stages remaining to take points.”
After a brief bout of chasing, the former Ukrainian national time trial champion Andriy Grivko has decided to give up his pursuit of Bradley Wiggins. At the 18.5km mark, he has been caught by the peloton.
The chase continues: Grivko is 6’40" behind Wiggins and the peloton is now 7’20" behind.
When the 18th stage of the 2002 Tour concluded in Bourg-en-Bresse, the winner was Mr Hushovd of the Credit Agricole team. He’s already won a stage in this year’s race but his team director Serge Beucherie is not too optimistic about his chances today. “In 2002 it was not exactly the same stage because we were leaving the Alps and Thor’s victory was at the end of an escape,” explained Beucherie this morning.
“Today is one of the last stages for the sprinters so it’ll probably be a day when Boonen and McEwen will try to set up a sprint. I don’t know if Zabel has the same interests, to be honest he seems to accept that he can’t beat the others.”
It’s unlikely that Credit Agricole will be part of any pursuit of an escape though. “I don’t think we’ll work because Thor has a pinch nerve near his neck,” said the French directeur sportif. “This was also the case back in the Dauphine in June there’s still hope because the osteopath has been treating him. Still he didn’t feel good when he woke up this morning. He needs two or three days to recover and we’re not going to take the risk to spend energy prior to the mountain stages when we’re not 100 per cent sure about Thor’s form.”
One rider is now trying to bridge the gap to Wiggins. Andriy Givko (MRM) began his move at the 12km mark. He is 7’00" behind the British Cofidis rider. The peloton is at 7’40".
“The green jersey is in the back of my mind,” said the three-time points classification champion Robbie McEwen. The Predictor-Lotto rider wore the green jersey on the day to Gent but lost it to Tom Boonen after stage two. “Right now the main thing is to get back on top of my form. If I can do that, then I’ll be happy.”
What does he expect will happen during the stage? “Who knows…? I guess the same sort of guys will try their luck in an escape and the bunch will probably let them get a fair lead. I think most of the peloton is hoping for a slower day. It was tough yesterday and, in the back of everyone’s mind will be the mountains of tomorrow’s stage.”
The peloton has no interest in chasing the escapee in stage six. Wiggins began his move at the 2km mark and has a lead of 5’40" at the 14km mark. This is sufficient to put him in the lead of the Tour de France. He was sixth after four stages but dropped to 105th overall yesterday with a deficit to Cancellara of 5’40"...
“I’m pretty tired after yesterday’s stage but that’s the case for everybody,” Robbie McEwen told LeTour.fr before the start today. "Today is flat without much of a wind so that should mean that it will end in a sprint. If that happens, I’ll do my best to be amongst the action but it’s not looking too good at the moment. I’m still having a lot of trouble with my knee, my neck and my back because of the fall early in the Tour.” The winner of stage one achieved that coup after a crash with 23km to go to Canterbury but he sped past all the other sprint specialists to take what was dubbed by many aficionados one of the best displays of sprinting in years. But a repeat of that effort, according to McEwen, is unlikely. “I’m actually really suffering,” admitted the rider who turned 36 at the end of June. “It seems impossible to get full power at the moment.”
Wiggins is not being pursued by anyone. He is in for a long, hot day in the saddle. His leading margin is now up to 2’10" with the peloton at the 10.5km mark. The move began in the second kilometer of the 199.5km stage.
Corrine Druey, the press officer for the Astana team said this morning that both Andreas Kloden and Alexandre Vinokourov will be at the start of the stage today despite spending time in the hospital last night have injuries tended to.
“Both riders are injured will be at the start today and we’ll see during the race how it’s going as the day progresses,” said Druey, “but the injuries are significant. “Vinokourov has broken nothing but he’s had to be stitched up – with bad wounds on both his knees and one elbow… the positive news is that at breakfast this morning he was in good spirits and he has got excellent morale and is still feeling very strong.
“Kloden has a ‘fissure’ of the coccyx and he’s in pain but we’ll see how he copes during the race.”
Wiggins continues on alone at the front of the stage. There are numerous riders in the peloton now taking the chance to answer the call of nature and the British escapee has built a lead of 1’00".
There are just two category-four climbs in the stage to Bourg-en-Bresse. The first is at Grandmont (55km) and the seconds in Braneion (138km).
The are also three intermediate sprints today, they are in Bligny-sur-Ouche (at 51.5km), Cormatin (127km) and Pont-de-Vaux (161.5km).
Wiggins now leads the peloton by 20" at the 4.5km mark. He was sixth overall after four stages but dropped to 105th after the race to Joigny yesterday.
With the peloton at the 3km mark, Wiggins’ advantage is nine seconds.
Bradley Wiggins, the rider who dropped out of the top 10 in the fifth stage, is the first to attack today. He started his move at the 2km mark.
The official start of the sixth stage was 12.50pm. There are 183 riders still in the race; the only non-starter is Geoffroy Lequatre (COF) who was caught up in a crash near the end of yesterday’s stage.
Vladimir Gusev retains his lead in the youth classification. He’s worn the white jersey since the prologue. The Russian Discovery Channel rider leads Thomas Dekker (RAB) by six seconds, Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) by seven seconds and team-mate Alberto Contador by 10 seconds.
“The polka-dot jersey is a compensation for my efforts,” said the rider who has spent more time in escape groups than any other during this year’s Tour. Sylvain Chavanel (COF) has been on the attack for 300 of the 991.4km covered thus far. He was aggressive yesterday and claimed first place at the top of seven of the eight climbs, collecting 30 points for the polka-dot jersey. He has a lead of 14 points over his escape companion in stage five, Philippe Gilbert (FDJ). In third place is another Frenchman, William Bonnet (C.A) who has 15 points.
“Together with Philippe Gilbert we found ourselves in a position for a good finish and I started to believe it was possible to win the stage,” said Chavanel. “But the final climb really slowed our progress.
“[Now] it’s time to spend a day taking it a little easy. My there’s always a thought in the back of my mind; it’s just not possible to defend the jersey because it’s too much to ask in the big mountains… and my priority has always been to win a stage.”
The official start of the sixth stage is only minutes away. The peloton is currently in the 4.6km neutral zone.
“It’s fantastic to be back in the green jersey,” said Erik Zabel after stage five. “The last time I won it was in 2001 and the last time I wore it was in 2002.” The Milram rider has 102 points, four more than Boonen (QSI). In equal third place are Robbie McEwen (PRL) and Oscar Freire (RAB) who both have 84 points.
Zabel is not sure what to expect today as he wasn’t expected to be the protected rider at the Tour until a little over one week ago. “Normally I would have come to this Tour to lead out the sprints for Alessandro Petacchi. Unfortunately he’s not here so my role changed and maybe that’s the reason that I got to stand on the podium today. Last Wednesday my team manager told me, ‘Okay, now you have to sprint.’ I had just two days to think about this but I’m pleased to be able to get a reward.”
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) is still in the lead of the Tour de France. He has an advantage of 33” over the runner-up in the prologue Andreas Kloden (AST) who was caught up in a crash yesterday. He has a ‘fissure’ of the coccyx but will take the start of stage six and see how he fares. The winner of the stage to Joigny, ‘Pippo’ Pozzato (LIQ) moved up from 18th overall to third, just 35” shy of Cancellara. Another change to the top 10 of the general classification after stage five is Vladimir Karpets (GCE); the Russian moved up from 10th to seventh.
The 199.5km sixth stage of the 2007 Tour de France is due to begin at 12.40pm. There is a 4.6km neutral zone before the rider reach the site of the official start; this is expected to be at about 12.50pm. The sun is shining on the Tour de France today and the temperature at the start is about 26 degrees Celsius.
Live coverage of the stage from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse will commence shortly.