Greipel Wins Stage 6; Impey First African to Wear Yellow Jersey
Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) has taken the maillot jaune from teammate Simon Gerrans.
Sunshine, warmth, and strong winds greeted the riders. There were two nonstarters: Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) and Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), both of whom were injured in Stage 5 crashes. At the gun, Luis Mate (Cofidis) sallied off of the front. No one joined the Spaniard, who led the field by 3:40 at 12 km and 5:30 at 19 km. GreenEdge went to the front and shut down the move at 44 km. Eleven km later, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) crashed but remounted and rejoined the field.
GreenEdge, Cannondale, and BMC took station at the front. At 82 km, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) hit the deck but rejoined the bunch. Two km later, Nacer Bouhanni (Francaise des Jeux) abandoned because of stomach trouble. At 90 km, Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana), who was injured in a Stage 5 crash, abandoned. At this point, Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the peloton.
With 35 km left, Cavendish went down. He got up quickly and rejoined the bunch. Saxo Bank-Tinkoff, BMC, and Sky were at the front to keep their captains out of trouble. With 11 km to go, Janez Brajkovic went down but rejoined the peloton, although he withdrew from the race after consulting with doctors after the stage.
With three km left, Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the field. One km later, Argos-Shimano took over at the front. Lotto-Belisol led the field into the last km and kept its position at the front. With 200 m left, Greipel jumped into the lead and held off Sagan, Kittel, and Cavendish easily.
Greipel was happy about his victory, which was a fillip to the morale of a team that had just lost its GC contender. “I’m of course very happy with this victory that can be seen as a statement after yesterday’s bad luck,” Greipel said. “I’ve known for long that we have a great team, but today’s leadout to the sprint was fantastic. Lars Bak and Frederik Willems worked very hard during the race to keep us constantly in the front. The pace was set up by Adam Hansen, so we could go into the final km with three riders: Marcel Sieberg, Jurgen Roelandts, and Greg Henderson. It’s never easy to succeed in a sprint, but today I was guided to the finish in a perfect way. The green jersey is not per se a goal, but I aim to take as many points as possible. It is too early to make conclusions so we will see how it goes. Marc Sergeant did a very good job this morning in the team bus. He said it was important to focus on today’s sprint, and we definitely managed to do that.”
Impey, a South African, is the first African to wear the yellow jersey. The transfer of leadership from Gerrans to Impey was planned. “Simon came to me yesterday afternoon and asked if it was okay for him to pass the jersey to Daryl,” GreenEdge directeur sportif Matthew White said. “I said it was fine. They’re great mates. What they’ve done for each other will never be forgotten. Simon won his stage with the perfect leadout from Daryl, and he had his two days in yellow. For Daryl to be the first African in yellow, even if it’s only one day—well, it will change his life forever.”
Donning the yellow jersey overwhelmed Impey. “I was pretty emotional on the podium,” he said. “I was standing there and thinking, ‘This is it.’ This is the proudest moment ever of my career. I don’t think anything will ever top this. That’s not to say I’ll never be able to do it again, but not in this way. It’s like winning the jackpot.”
In the overall, Impey leads Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) by 0:03 and Gerrans by 0:05. Stage 7, a 205.5-km ride from Montpellier to Albi, will feature two Category 2 climbs between 80 and 100 km, which might favor a long break, but the last 55 km of the stage are downhill. It adds up to the sprinters, for whom this will the last opportunity to win a stage until Stage 10, collaring the break and battling for the win. Who will take it? Cavendish? Greipel? Kittel? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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