Sagan Takes Hat Trick in Tour; Crashes Decimate Field
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has snared his third stage win of this year's Tour de France.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has snared his third stage win of this year's Tour de France. Sagan took a bunch sprint to win a crash-marred Stage 6, a flat, 207.5-km run from Epernay to Metz, in 4:37:00. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) finished second, and Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) took third. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) remains the maillot jaune.
The hostilities began early. At five km, Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), and Davide Malacarne (Europcar) sallied off of the front. The quartet forged a 6:40 lead before the RadioShack-Nissan-led peloton began to chase.
The day's first crash occurred at 50 km when Lotto-Belisol teammates Greipel and Francis de Greefe, Movistar mates Alejandro Valverde and Jose Ivan Gutierrez, Robert Gesink (Rabobank), and Vacansoleil-DCM teammates Lieuwe Westra and Kris Boeckmans hit the deck. All remounted their bikes. and Greipel's teammates towed him back to the peloton, where he fought for the day's honors.
The major crash of the day took place 25 km from the finish, as the bunch closed in on the break. Most of the Garmin-Sharp team was involved in the pileup, and Tom Danielson, who had separated his shoulder in a Stage 3 crash, reinjured his shoulder and abandoned. Ryder Hesjedal, the Giro d'Italia champion, suffered injuries that caused him to lose 13 minutes and ultimately abandon, while a badly bruised Johan Vansummeren crossed the finish line barely dressed. The mishap slowed Mark Cavendish (Sky). Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) saw their general classification chances ride up the road.
Ahead, Orica-GreenEdge drove the lead group, which included defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) and contender Bradley Wiggins. With 14 km left, this group trailed the four escapees by 2:30.
With three km remaining, as the Lotto-Belisol-led lead group closed on the escapees, Zabriskie set out on his own. The seven-time American time trial champion tried to stay away, but the lead group reeled him 1.3 km from the finish line.
Greg Henderson led out teammate Greipel, who made his move 300 m from the finish. Sagan charged into the lead on the right side of the road and dusted the German. Goss settled for third.
In the overall, Cancellara leads Wiggins and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:07. Stage 7 will change this state of affairs. The first mountain stage of the 2012 Tour will take the riders 199 km, from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles. The route will feature two Category 3 climbs and a Category 1 ascent to the finish. Cancellara's time in yellow should end, but who will take the jersey from him. Wiggins? Evans? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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