Friday July 6th, 2012

Stage 6Épernay / Metz

Start 12h30 GMT 2+

Key moments

video06.07.2012 in 23:00Summary of the race

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Summary of the race

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Stage summary06.07.2012 in 17:30Sagan success on a day of major drama

© A.S.O.

The biggest talking point of the stage from Epernay to Metz will be the crash that took out half the peloton with 26km to go. Not only did it force at least three men to abandon the Tour but it caused the likes of Fränk Schleck, Pierre Rolland, Alejandro Valverde, Mark Cavendish and large number of others to lose significant time. The two big pre-race favorites for the general classification - Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins -survived the carnage near Gorze and so too did most of the...

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video06.07.2012 in 16:00Interview - Stage Winner

video06/07/2012 

Interview - Stage Winner

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interview06.07.2012 in 18:52Consolation prize for Orica-GreenEdge

The Australian team Orica-GreenEdge, which is riding it's debut Tour de France with the ambition of winning the green jersey and, perhaps more importantly, winning a few stages with Matt Goss, was overwhelmed in the final in Metz just like in previous days. The sprinter was third. But, thanks to the presence of two team-mates in the top 10 – Daryl Impey (9th) and Brett Lancaster (10th) the squad earns the victory in the team classification for the day.
In the general classification...

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interview06.07.2012 in 18:44Sagan: I called this one 'The Hulk'

He's having fun with his victory salutes and Peter Sagan has been able to perform one three times in the first week of his first Tour de France...

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interview06.07.2012 in 18:24Cancellara: We have to look forward

The winner of the prologue has kept the yellow jersey for the entire opening week but he knows that his time in the lead of the Tour de France is about to come to an end.

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interview06.07.2012 in 18:13Zabriskie: We're kind of like a family

The winner of the 'Fighting Spirit' award in stage six was in the middle of explaining his take on good and bad luck at the finish of a stage when one of his team-mates had to abandon and the leader lost over 13 minutes and Billie Jean started playing in the background. Immediately a smile appeared and he interrupted the interview to listen...

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video06.07.2012 in 11:14Analysis of the stage

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Analysis of the stage

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Sporting stakes06.07.2012 in 11:00Sprint expected but not certain...

There is another day of flat racing and thus the consensus is that this will be another day for the sprinters but there are some lessons to take home from the early stanza of Le Tour 2012: accidents happen, riders can falter, and some lead-out trains are more organized than others. Peter Sagan missed out on adding points to his tally in stage five because of a crash. Matt Goss has been consistent and appears to be getting closer to his first Tour stage win. André Greipel's crew has proven...

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video06.07.2012 in 10:30The day's route

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The day's route

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Newsflashes

17:16The top 10 in stage six

Peter Sagan is the winner of another stage of the Tour de France. The top 10 of the race to Metz is:

1. Peter Sagan (SVK) LIQ 4h37'00"

2. André Greipel (GER) LTB

3. Matt Goss (AUS) OGE

4. Kenny van Hummel (NED) VCD

5. Juan José Haedo (ARG) STB

6. Greg Henderson (NZL) LTB

7. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) LAM

8. Luca Paolini (ITA) KAT

9. Daryl Impey (RSA) OGE

10. Brett Lancaster (AUS) OGE

17:12Sagan wins again!

For all the good work that Lotto did they could not hold off the charge by Sagan who has won his third stage - relegating Greipel and Goss to the minor places...!

17:11Zabriskie caught

The sprinters are going to have their way: Zabriskie is out of the way and now there are four Lotto riders at the front inside the final kilometer.

17:102km to go

Zabriskie is on his own inside the final 2km of the stage. The rest of the escape has been swallowed up but now it's the ultimate time trial for the US TT champion who is within sight of the peloton that's now led by Orica riders.

17:09Zabriskie wins 'Fighting Spirit' award

The man who instigated today's escape has been awarded the Fighting Spirit award... it's little consolation on a day Danielson abandoned and Hejsedal looks like losing over seven minutes...

17:084km to go

There are now five Lotto-Belisol riders at the front of the first peloton. Greipel is in position and looks like he's considering sprinting. This group is just 8" behind the four leaders with 4km to go.

17:07Poels remains in the race

It was announced earlier that Poels (VCD) had quit the race. This is wrong. He is still riding but Astarloza (EUS) has abandoned after the crash.

17:06Four holding on...

With 6km to go: Zingle, Zabriskie, Malacarne and Kroon are still at the front of the stage. We'll review the state of the fallen riders - as this is The Talking Point of the stage - later... but for the time being we'll concentrate on the front of the race...

17:04Hesjedal seven minutes behind...!

Ryder Hesjedal is in a group of riders that's well behind the even the likes of Valverde et al who are two minutes behind the main peloton. The leader of the Garmin team is now seven minutes behind the stage leaders!

17:00Schleck 2'00" behind first peloton

The group that includes Cavendish, Brajkovic, Valverde, Rolland and Schleck is 2'00" behind the Orica-GreenEdge led bunch that is now just 11" behind the four stage leaders.

16:59Vigano and Danielson also abandon

Two other confirmed retirements from the 2012 Tour are Tom Danielson (GRS) and Davide Vigano (LAM).

16:5815km to go

The four leaders are 15" ahead of the main peloton with 15km to go.

16:54Cavendish and Boasson Hagen in second group

Cavendish and Boasson Hagen are two riders who have failed to make the front group. They are out of contention for the finish today but we do not have a time check on the second peloton...

16:53Wouter Poels abandons

Poels of the Vacansoleil team is one that is now out of the Tour but there are likely to be many other casualties of the recent crash.

16:52Sagan in first peloton

Sagan survived the crash and he is present in the first peloton. So too is Basso, Evans, Nibali, Wiggins...

16:51Schleck riding again...

One of the victims of the crash is the rider who was third overall last year, Frank Schleck. The Luxembourger has his team car beside him as he paces his way to the finish.

16:50Cancellara in the first peloton

The yellow jersey is present in the first peloton that is now inside the final 20km.

16:4920km to go

The first peloton is just 33" behind the four escapees who are inside the final 20km of the stage. Cavendish was caught up in the fall and he's calling for a new rear wheel.

16:48Bikes and bodies everywhere...

There are still many riders sitting down and not showing any signs of getting back on their bikes after the crash. Hesjedal is bloodied and bruised but rolling again. But he's going to lose a lot of time today...

16:46Complete chaos after crash

There are riders lying everywhere and mechanics rushing around trying to find what parts of bikes they need to repair. Many of the fallen riders are racing again but a LOT have been held up by the accident that happened with 26km to go.

16:45Crash in peloton!

There is another big fall. This one is with 26km to go and is going to influence the result today. About half the peloton has been caught up in the incident and it includes Frank Schleck and many, many others.

16:43Knees a one-man lead-out for Wiggins

With the fight for position happening at the front of the peloton, Sky has set Knees right to the front with just Wiggins on his wheel.

16:41Freire dropped by peloton

Tony Martin (OPQ), Kadri (ALM), Freire (KAT), Farrar (GRS) are a number of the riders who have been dropped by the peloton inside the final 30km.

The bunch is 55" behind the stage leaders.

16:40FDJ also working for a sprint

FDJ is another team trying to set up a sprint. Their fast man is Yauheni Hutarovich who was seventh in stage two.

16:37Four lead by 1'00"

With a little over 31km to go in the 207.5km stage, the advantage of the escapees has dropped to 1'00". Now we see BMC arriving near the head of the peloton on the left of the road with Sky tucked in behind the cluster of red jerseys. To their right is RadioShack... then, in the middle of the road, are riders from the Orica-GreenEdge team. Lotto-Belisol is not shirking work at the front and clearly they are still trying to set up a sprint even if Greipel says he won't sprint today.

16:35Frison: Greipel won't sprint today

France Télévision has just interviewed the directeur sportif of the Lotto-Belisol team, Herman Frison who explained the injuries sustained by André Greipel today. "He has pain in his shoulder," said the Belgian about the rider who has won the last two stages. "And he won't take part in the sprint today."

This is likely to mean that Greg Henderson will be given the chance to sprint for himself instead of doing the lead-out as he's done in the last couple of days. The 35-year-old New...

16:27Explaining the run-in to the finish...

Matt Goss has already explained to LeTour.fr today that he likes finishes that include a number twists and turns and that's exactly what we have in Metz today. He won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2010 when it was a convoluted run to the line.

Today's stage features a tight right-hander just before the 2km to go sign that the peloton is gonig to have to slow down significantly for. Then comes a gentle left turn and a gentle right hander... with about 1,400m to go there is a 90...

16:21Christian Guiberteau of Argos-Shimano

LeTour.fr recently spoke with the directeur sportif of Argos-Shimano to find out what its plans are now that Marcel Kittel has abandoned with his knee injury. “Once we saw that Marcel was not feeling well, we immediately put our effort in to [Tom] Veelers. Now we focus everything on him, and he's doing well (4th in Tournai, 3rd in Rouen, 6th in Saint-Quentin).
“Tom is a sprinter who knows how to position himself very well as he was already the lead-out man for Marcel. While we...

16:19Albasini setting the pace

Albasini, who was fifth in Boulogne, is now at the front of the peloton and taking time out of the leading four who are now just 1'00" ahead. There are 46km to go in the stage.

16:15Peraud back after puncture

After a sequence of accidents and punctures, it seems it's back to normal again with the four leaders and then the peloton which has regrouped after the split caused by the incident on the climb and a few punctures. There is a bit over 48km to go and the bunch is 1'35" behind the Zabriskie group.

Malacarne is no longer the virtual leader of the Tour.

16:11Greipel rejoins peloton

After the incident on the climb, Greipel has rejoined the peloton with the help of three team-mates. Just as he got back to the bunch, Peraud (ALM) suffered a puncture which is now being tended to by the AG2R team car.

16:08Zingle returns to lead group

Zingle (COF) has rejoined the three other escapees after his puncture.

16:06Zingle out of lead group

Zingle (COF) has punctured and his no longer in the lead of the stage. There are now three men at the front with 56km to go.

16:05Greipel, Farrar and Mollema involved...

Greipel has been caught in two crashes today and he's bleeding from the left knee. He has a bandaged arm and is being helped back to the peloton by three team-mates.

Meanwhile, up ahead Albasini is tapping out the tempo at the front of the peloton.

16:04Peloton eases pace...

The split in the peloton was caused by an incident on the left of the road at the top of the climb. A Rabobank rider was involved and three others have waited for him. The head of the peloton features Lotto-Belisol riders but they seem to be respecting the fallen riders and the pace is relatively tranquil compared to what it was like on the approach to the climb.

The advantage of the escapees is now 1'50".

16:02Gesink & Greipel involved again...

Two names that have been mentioned in relation to the latest crash are Greipel and Gesink. But the camera has moved on and we've heard nothing more about the incident.

16:01Peloton at a standstill...

There seems to have been a fall in the peloton and Gutierrez is shaking his head in disgust. There are Rabobank riders on the right of the road and this seems to be the reason for the stoppage...

16:00Zabriskie takes a point...

The climb today was won by Dave Zabriskie (GRS). His quartet is just just 1'35" ahead of the peloton that has reached the top of the climb. But it's come to a halt...

15:54Details of the climb

The côte de Buxières is at the 145km mark of the stage. It is a 2.7km long ascent with an average gradient of 3.8 per cent. Ranked category-four there is just one point on offer at the top...

15:53No messing around today...

Yesterday the capture of the escapees happened in the final 500 meters. Today we see the peloton speeding towards Metz with RadioShack, Argos-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge riders swapping off at the front. They are just 1'55" behind the four escapees who are about to reach the site of the only climb today.

15:48Result of the intermediate sprint

The points for the intermediate sprint of stage six have gone to:

1. Kroon (STB) 20pts

2. Zabriskie (GRS) 17pts

3. Zingle (COF) 15pts

4. Malacarne (EUC) 13pts

5. Goss (OGE) 11pts - 2'50"

6. Cavendish (SKY) 10pts

7. Sagan (LIQ) 9pts

8. Boeckmans (VCD) 8pts

9. Boasson Hagen (SKY) 7pts

10. Hutarovich (FDJ) 6pts

11. O'Grady (OGE) 5pts

12. Impey (OGE) 4pts

13. Popovych (RNT) 3pts

14. Albasini (OGE)...

15:44Vacansoleil join the lead-out

The peloton is inside the final kilometer leading to the intermediate sprint. There is a Vacansoleil rider at the front and now Sky is taking over with EBH ahead of Cav.

15:43Leaders reach the sprint site

The order of the escapees over the line for hte intermediate sprint was: Kroon well ahead of the rest. The Dutchman made a point of collecting the 20 points for first place. Full results of the sprint in Saint-Mihiel will be posted once the peloton absorbs the points from 5th to 15th place.

15:39Speeding up now...

The last time check has the peloton just 3'21" behind the escapees who are only a couple of kilometers away from the intermediate sprint.

15:37Average for third hour: 43.8km/h

The pace has picked up for the third hour. The average speed was 43.8km/h. The average for the first three hours today is 42.2km/h.

15:35Lead-out to intermediate sprint begins...

Michael Albasini (OGE) is the rider who is now at the front of hte peloton as it approaches the intermediate sprint of stage six. It is at the 135km mark, and the bunch is currently around the 125km point of the 207.5km stage.

15:34Allan Peiper: He??s lost his confidence

The sports director of Garmin-Sharp, was recently interviewed by France Télévisions and asked about the state of the team's sprinter Tyler Farrar: “He broke his helmet in the crash yesterday, and it is just not right! he will not take part in the sprint today, it's too dangerous. And, above all, he lost his confidence with these numerous falls. Now he must keep the energy for the next few days.”

Accidents can happen but with the Farrar family history, it's understandable that...

15:29Lead down to 4'10"

Just shy of the three hour mark of the sixth stage, the advantage of the escapees has dropped to 4'10".

15:26No skinsuit for Zabriskie today...

The attack from Zabriskie was part of the team's plan from before the start of the stage. Garmin-Sharp management hinted that an attack was on the cards and that Dave Z would be the man to do it.

He launched his bid at the 5km mark and was joined a couple of kilometers later by Zingle (COF), Malacarne (EUC) and Kroon (STB).

When Zabriskie planned an attack in Paris-Tours a few years ago, he took it to another level and opted to wear a TT skinsuit rather than standard knicks and...

15:16Lead drops to 4'50"

At the 110km mark, the peloton is 4'50" behind Zingle, Zabriskie, Kroon and Malacarne.

15:14Gerrans tosses a feedbag away...

The Australian champion has ridden right up to the front of the peloton with two feedbags, one for Sebatian Langeveld who has been swapping off with Jens Voigt and Yaroslav Povovych for most of the day.

When he offered the second feed bag to Peter Weening, the Dutchman declined and thus it was a wasted effort and the nourishment got tossed to the side of the road. Gerrans has now retreated back into the peloton and his compatriot Adam Hansen (LTB) is at the front of the chase.

15:07100km to go

The escapees have been at the front for 102km. They are now inside the final 100km of the stage and have a lead of 5'30". The maximum gain was 6'50" (around the 85km mark).

15:04The peloton's leaders...

Yaroslav Popovych, Jens Voigt, Adam Hansen, Sebastian Langeveld and Peter Weening are the riders at the front of the peloton as it exits the feedzone. These guys are essetially the regular contributors to the pace setting for the first week of Le Tour 2012.

14:59Peloton at the feedzone...

As it enters the feedzone (at the 97.5km mark, in Villotte-Devant-Louppy), the peloton is 5'50" behind the escapees.

14:57Goss on yesterday's intermediate sprint: We didn't use everyone

LeTour.fr asked Matt Goss to explain Orica-GreenEdge's approach to the intermediate sprints when we spoke earlier today. “Up until yesterday [stage five] we were the ones taking control of the intermediate sprints because there are so many points on offer," said Goss. "It's been worthwhile; I've been taking a few points and it all adds up. Yesterday I started some 40 something points off Sagan [actually 55... but it's now down to 17] but even on the day when he did do the final sprint, we...

14:54Dr. Florence Pommerie: Greipel has significant injuries

The medical team of the Tour has recently offered an appraisal on the state of the riders who fell at the 35km mark. “About 20 riders came past our car after the fall, including many team leaders,” said Florence Pommerie. “The crash victims included Sandy Casar (FDJ), Jean-Christophe Peraud (ALM) and Andre Greipel (LTB). Most have abrasions and contusions.
“These are minor injuries, but they hurts all the same. André Greipel seems to have some significant injuries including...

14:49Only New Zealand stage win in the Tour happened near here...

To date, there has only been one stage winner of the Tour de France from New Zealand. That was in 2001 when Chris Jenner was part of the winning squad for the team time trial. That was on a horribly wet day and Crédit Agricole beat ONCE-Eroski by 31”. It was a stage that started in Verdun and finished in Bar-le-Duc which is just south of where the peloton currently is.
Stuart O'Grady was in the yellow jersey that day and also on the team was: Jonathan Vaughters (USA), Jens Voigt...

14:41Dry roads...

There has been some rain today but, for the moment, the peloton - 6'25" behind the leaders - is riding on dry roads.

14:36Average for 2nd hour: 40.5km/h

The escapees have covered 40.5km in the second hour of racing today. The average for the opening two hours is 41.3km/h.

14:326'50" between peloton and escapees

The bunch is now in Vroil, at the 78km mark. It is 6'50" behind the Zabriskie quartet - and this is the biggest gain of the escape so far today.

14:30Gesink consults the team car

Gesink had been at the head of the peloton for a while but the winner of the Tour of California this year is now behind his team car after a brief consultation with his directeur sportif.

He has stopped to get a new wheels - front and rear... the wet conditions is likely to be the reason for the change.

14:28Flat for Taaramae

The leader of the Cofidis team is the latest rider to get a puncture. Rein Taaramae is waiting for the team car to get a rear wheel change.

14:26Yauheni Hutarovich: I can not feel pain

“Yesterday I was caught in the fall to 3km from the finish,” said the champion of Belarus, Yauheni Hutarovich earlier today, “but it's not too bad; I can not feel pain. The finish seems pretty easy today, and I have good legs right now. Above all, this is the last chance for me before the Tour reaches the mountains.”

14:23Alessandro Petacchi: We must be vigilant

“I feel that the last two kilometers are fairly easy, and I will try to do something,” said, Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) earlier today when interviewed by the Young Reporters of the Tour. “But first he'll have to be very vigilant. For we have seen that the beginning of the Tour is very difficult, especially with the falls we had. But it's not so bad, and all sprints are different.”

14:21Rabobank put three near the lead...

Gesink is one of the riders involved in the crash at the 35km mark. He is now near the front of the peloton with two Rabobank team-mates.

14:17Rain starts to fall

After a dry start to the stage, rain is now falling on the peloton that is 6'25" behind the four escapees. It's overcast at the site of the finish but dry... for the moment.

14:15Samuel Dumoulin: On the flat, I have no chance against the best

LeTour.fr spoke with Samuel Dumoulin before the stage today. He was fourth yesterday, one place ahead of the world champion Mark Cavendish. So we wanted to know what he thought of the sprint.
“Yesterday's stage was fairly quiet, I could save myself for the finish,” said Dumoulin. “And, in the last 30 kilometers, I'm able to move up in the bunch. Then everything went pretty well. At the time of the crash, that happened to my right, but I didn't really need to avoid it. I was a bit...

14:08Kroon's 14th season as a pro

One of the riders in the escape today won his one and only stage of the Tour de France 10 years ago. It came from an escape and it happened on 14 July 2002, the year he made his debut in the Tour.

He's raced for four teams during his 14 year career: Rabobank, CSC, BMC and now he's back with the Riis-managed squad, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank. The best result for the 36-year-old so far this season was a fourth place in stage five of the Tour de Suisse when he was in a break that finished...

14:05Lead drops to 6'15"

The maximum gain of the four escapees was 6'45" at 51km. The latest check has Zabriskie, Zingle, Malacarne and Kroon ahead by 6'15" (at 59km).

14:02Average speed for opening hour

The average speed for the first hour of stage six is 42.2km/h.

13:58Three teams lead peloton

There are riders from Lotto-Belisol, Orica-GreenEdge and RadioShack currently setting the pace at the head of the peloton. Fabian Cancellara is in about 10th position in what he believes will be his second last day in the yellow jersey.

Just behind the first tier of riders is a mass of red jerseys of the BMC team.

They peloton is now 6'30" behind Zingle, Zabriskie, Kroon and Malacarne.

13:5011 riders with three (or more) successive stage wins

André Greipel (LTB) stands the chance of taking a hat-trick of stage wins in the Tour de France. Only 11 men have achieved this in the history of the race. Here is a summary of the riders to win three or more stages on successive days:


2004: Lance Armstrong – stages 15 in Villard de Lans, 16 in Alpe d'Huez (TT) and 17 in Le Grand Bornand


1999: Mario Cipollini – stages 4 in Blois, 5 in Amiens, 6 in Mauberge and 7 Thionville


1948: Gino Bartali –...

13:45The peloton is now 6'20" behind

Westra (VCD) is one of the crash victims who is consulting the race doctor.

13:42Valverde another victim of the 35km crash...

Another rider who was caught up in the fall that happened at the 35km mark was Movistar's leader, Alejandro Valverde. All those who were involved are riding again and we have yet to receive an official medical report; but, for the moment, none have consulted the race doctor at the back of the convoy.

13:40Gesink also in the recent crash...

Another rider who was caught up in the crash at the 35km mark was Rabobank's leader Robert Gesink.

13:39Advantage grows to over six minutes

After 42km in stage six, the peloton is 6'10" behind the four escapees.

13:36Goss discusses the effect of intermediate sprints...

LeTour.fr asked Matt Goss if the intermediate sprint costs him later or if he has enough time to catch your breath before the finish. “It takes a little bit off but not a whole lot," said the runner-up from stage five. "Maybe it's the difference between Greipel and me yesterday and the finish – he hasn't been doing the intermediate sprints with the same conviction as I have...
“I've found that the intermediate sprint can sometimes make me feel a bit better, more fresh and ready;...

13:34Peraud also caught up in crash

Another rider who was caught up in the recent accident was the Frenchman who finished 10th overall in 2011, Jean-Christophe Peraud (ALM). He seems to have sustained some injuries on an elbow but he's still racing...

13:32Lead grows to 5'30"

The easing of the pace after the crash has helped the escapees build on their advantage which is 5'30" as the bunch reaches the 38km mark.

13:30Leaders at 41km

Zabriskie, Zingle, Malacarne and Kroon are now in Longevas at the 41km mark. Their advantage on the peloton has grown to 4'20" after the accident in the bunch (at 35km).

13:29All riders racing again...

All the riders who were involved in the fall at 35km are racing again. The worst affected seems to be Guiterrez of the Movistar team.

13:28Peloton eases its pace after crash...

The crashed happened at the 35km mark and the bunch has eased off the pace while it waits for the fallen riders.

13:27Greipel, Gutierrez and Westra in a crash

There are a number of riders who have been caught up in a fall in the peloton. The riders named are: Westra (VCD), Cantwell (STB), Greipel (LTB), Gutierrez (MOV)...  we await confirmation on the state of their injuries.

13:23Puncture for Bole

A rider from Lampre-ISD, Grega Bole, is the latest to have a flat tire. He is being serviced by the team mechanic on the right side of the road.

13:18Goss didn't think the peloton would catch yesterday's escapees...

The escapees only got caught in the last 500 meters of stage five. Did Matt Goss think they were going to hold on and steal the win? “To be honest, yes," said the Orica-GreenEdge rider. "When we came around the last corner and we saw how far ahead they were I didn't think we'd catch them actually. I thought it was going to be racing for third or fourth place. It's just that after a breakaway of almost 200km, those guys don't have a lot left in the legs and we were coming at them pretty...

13:13RadioShack limit the gains...

At 26, the peloton is 4'05" behind the four escapees who began their move at the 5km mark. RadioShack-Nissan is one of the teams that is leading the peloton and they've been in position up front since around the 17km mark.

13:10Goss: I was one gear too big...

“In general the guys are going very well but yesterday we just had one less guy than we could have had," continued Matt Goss with his appraisal of the fifth stage when he spoke with LeTour.fr this morning. "Daryl Impey did an impressive job; he got me right in the position I needed to be in and I just had to go a little bit earlier than was ideal. Usually that isn't too bad but after 750 meters uphill it was just too much and I ran out of legs before the line and Greipel came over me. All...

13:06RadioShack-Nissan lead the peloton

With the advantage of the escapees up to 4'00" riders from the RadioShack-Nissan team have come to the front of the bunch to limit the gains of Zabriskie and Co.

13:06Goss: The last few kilometers [today] are good for me...

“Usually having a few corners in the last few kilometers is good for me,” said Matt Goss (OGE) when he spoke with LeTour.fr this morning. The Tasmanian is currently ranked second in the points classification and we asked him for his appraisal of the sprint in St-Quentin when he finished second to André Greipel. “The fifth stage worked out pretty well but we lost Baden [Cooke] with about seven kilometers to go [because of a problem with his derailleur] and that was a bit of a blow and...

13:02Malacarne the virtual leader

With the advantage now up to 3'50" it means that Davide Malacarne (EUC) is the virtual leader of the 2012 Tour de France.

13:01Almost four minutes now...

Zabriskie, Zingle, Malacarne and Kroon are now 3'50" ahead of the peloton which has just passed the 19km mark.

12:55Advantage continues to grow

At the 15km mark, Zabriskie's quartet has a lead on the peloton of 2'40".

12:53Two former stage winners in escape

Of the four in the lead of stage six, two have previously won a stage of the Tour de France. Dave Zabriskie won the opening time trial of the 2005 Tour when he beat Lance Armstrong by two seconds. He wore the yellow jersey until a crash at the finish of the team time trial in Blois.

The other former winner is Karsten Kroon who won in Plouay on Bastille Day in 2002.

12:501'50" lead at 12km

There are a number of riders in the peloton now answering nature's call and this means the escapees can build on their advantage which is up to 1'50" at the 12km mark.

12:48Details of the escapees

The Escape of stage six has been established. The move began at the 5km mark and after 5km on the attack they are over a minute ahead. The men involed are:

- Davide Malacarne (ITA) EUC - 66th overall after five stages, 3'34" behind Cancellara

- Romain Zingle (BEL) COF - 129th overall, at 9'57"

- Dave Zabriskie (USA) GRS - 169th overall, at 13'13"

- Karsten Kroon (NED) STB - 171st overall, at 13'43"

12:45Malacarne the best on GC of leading quartet

Of the four men in the lead of the stage, Davide Malacarne (EUC) is the best on GC after five stages. He started the day ranked 66th, 3'34" behind Cancellara.

At the 10km mark, they are 1'10" ahead of the peloton.

12:44Four now in the lead

At the 7.5km mark, there are four men in the lead. The move was started by Dave Zabriskie (at 5km). The others in the early escape are: Malacarne (EUC), Zingle (COF), Kroon (STB).

At the 9km mark, they are 45" ahead of the peloton.

12:41Two catch Zabriskie

There are now three men in the lead of stage six. Zabriskie (GRS) has been caught by two others but we don't yet have confirmation of those who bridged the gap to the US time trial champion.

12:39One man in the lead...

There is one rider currently hovering off the front of the peloton at the 5km mark. It's Dave Z of the Garmin-Sharp team.

12:38Fast start to stage six

The opening stanza of the sixth stage is being raced at a very fast pace. The peloton is already at the 4km mark.

12:35Racing in stage six!

The official start of the sixth stage, from Epernay to Metz, was at 12.34pm. All the riders who finished the fifth stage were at the sign on this morning meaning that there are still 194 men in the 99th Tour de France.

12:30Crash in the neutral zone

There has been a little accident in the neutral zone involving a Lampre rider. He is back up and riding again... Richie Porte (SKY) and Jurgen van den Broeck (LTB) were also involved.

12:24Prize classification review: part 03 ?? polka-dot jersey

There was not a single categorized hill in the fifth stage so the climbing classification remains unchanged from a day ago. Michael Morkov (STB) is the only rider to have worn the polka-dot jersey in the 99th Tour and his advantage over Basso (LIQ), Sagan (LIQ), Delaplace (SAU) and Gallopin (RNT) is seven points.
The only climb of stage six is the cote de Buxieres at the 145km mark.

12:22Prize classification review: part 02 ?? green jersey

Matt Goss (OGE) began stage five 55 points behind Peter Sagan in the race for the green jersey. The Australian was second in stage five and the Slovakian was caught up in the crash that was caused by Tyler Farrar near the end of the race to St-Quentin; Sagan didn't collect any points at the finish while Goss earned 35. It means that there are only 17 points between first and second place now.
The other dual stage winner of the 2012 Tour, André Greipel (LTB) is ranked third with 132...

12:19Prize classification review: part 01 ?? yellow jersey

Fabian Cancellara has overtaken René Vietto in the Tour's yellow jersey tally. The Swiss rider will spend the 27th day of his career in the lead of the race. The only riders to have spent more time in the lead of the general classification are men who have won the overall title on multiple occasions (Merckx, Armstrong, Hinault, Indurain, Anquetil, Magne, Frantz, Leducq, Bottecchia and Bobet).
“The thought of actually winning the Tour de France is not realistic,” said the...

12:18Rain threatening early today

The riders are about to start riding in the neutral zone. The temperature in Epernay is 19 degrees Celsius and there are a few drops of rain falling and dark clouds are overhead. For the moment it's not exactly wet but there's the threat of showers early in the sixth stage.

12:05Welcome to the live coverage of stage six of the 2012 Tour

After a downpour following the fifth stage, the conditions have cleared and the weather is relatively warm on the day that the Tour starts in the Champagne region of France and aims towards the Moselle department. The route is 207.5km long and features one hill, that comes 10km after the intermediate sprint of the stage in Saint-Mihiel (at 135.5km).

The riders will start rolling through the 7.7km neutral zone shortly (at 12.15pm) and the official start is expected to be at around...

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Classifications after the stage 9

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