2012 Tour de France-Stage 6

6 Jul

All hell broke loose at the Tour de France today. The last flat stage for awhile before the race goes into the mountains and just like last year the final sprint stage of the opening week – there were crashes. Horrible crashes.

Crashes that cost several favorites, such as one of my favorites Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), the chance to be a contender for the podium. It also took another favorite, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) off from a potential spot on the podium or the top 5. And Frank Schleck (Radio Shack-Nissan) lost too much time to contend for a top spot as he was caught in the same crash.

The crash that was the straw that finally took Tom Danielson (Garmin) out of the Tour – he was already riding with a separated shoulder. The crash that caused Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and David Vigano (Lampre) to have to abandon the race due to injuries.

The crash appeared to have occurred towards the upper middle of the peloton with about 25 k to go (no video available). It was a massive crash, riders off in ditches on both sides of the road. Riders that couldn’t get up and riders that did but couldn’t get through the carnage to remount and ride.

Two earlier crashes involving Rabobank and Lotto riders, including Gesink and Andre Greipel were unexplainable. The roads were wide and except for a brief shower, dry. The pace of the peloton although faster than previous days wasn’t inordinately high. They were just those stupid crashes that happen in the first week.

This one damaged the hopes of riders like Hesjedal, Gesink and Schleck at a possible spot on the podium. It did away with Team Garmin’s hopes of a spot on the podium – now what will they race for?

Such a sad day for so many of the riders with aspirations for overall top 10 or top 5 finishes. Riders don’t have to be injured to lose the Tour, if they are caught in or behind the crash they can lose enough time alone to take them out of contention. Case in point: Schleck, and Hesjedal and Gesink assuming their injuries aren’t serious.

The peloton didn’t slow for the fallen riders, since it didn’t involve the top favorites, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) or Cadel Evans (BMC). In recent times pelotons have done that with Tour favorites (to win) that have been caught out. I don’t think the peloton should have been expected to wait but I’m sure there will be discussion of that by some.

As far as the racing outcome of Stage 6, the 4 man breakaway stayed away until a few kilometers from the finish. When they were about to be caught David Zebreski (Garmin-Sharp) took off which I fully expected. By then Jonathon Vaughters would have told him about Hesjedal and Danielson (and Van Summeren who was also injured) and to go for the win.

Somehow Greipel fought his way back into the peloton and had the Lotto train in front charging for the finish. Teams BMC and Sky were both at the front protecting their main men, Evans and Wiggins. Team Orica-GreenEdge’s train had sprinter Matthew Goss and was also charging for the front.

The youngster, Peter Sagan (Liquigas) was turbocharging toward the finish. He came from behind Greipel and just blew passed him to take the win. An unbelievable show of power. It was an amazing sprint.

And one deserving of yet another great victory Sagan-salute – this time the Hulk.

Sagan nbc sports stage 6

Stage 6 results:

    • 1. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, in 4:37:00
    • 2. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, at 0
    • 3. Matthew Harley GOSS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
    • 4. Kenny Robert VAN HUMMEL, Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0
    • 5. Juan José HAEDO, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at 0
    • 6. Greg HENDERSON, Lotto-Belisol, at 0
    • 7. Alessandro PETACCHI, Lampre-ISD, at 0
    • 8. Luca PAOLINI, Katusha, at 0
    • 9. Daryl IMPEY, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
    • 10. Brett LANCASTER, Orica-GreenEdge, at :4

 

GC  after Stage Six
1. F. Cancellara
2. B. Wiggins at 0.07"
3. S. Chavanel 0’07"
4. T. Van Garderen 0.10"
5. D. Rusmenchov 0.13"
6. C. Evans 0.17"
7. V. Itanibali 0.18"
8. P. Sagan 0.19"
9. A. Kloden 0.22"
10. M. Monfort 0.22

There was no change in the jersey competitions: Cancellara in yellow, Sagan in green (extending his hold with the win) and Michael Morkov in the polka-dot. The yellow jersey could change hands tomorrow and for sure the polka-dot jersey will with this year’s first foray into the mountains.

TDF Fantasy Cycling Challenge:

Stage 6 results aren’t in yet, but 4loveofbikes team collected 191 points in Stage 5 (and left none on the bench – very irritating when one of the bench riders ends up getting points). I’ll post points for Stage 6 when they’re up. We should have a high number since our team captain, Peter Sagan won the stage! *Update – 232 points for the team .

Stage 7 Preview:

I’m having a hard time focusing on tomorrow’s stage and not the mess of today’s stage. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the crash pictures of Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson or Van Summeren but they are awful. Such a rotten end to a promising Tour. I hope they can salvage something with Zabriskie or Daniel Martin, or maybe David Millar. Best of luck to the argyle squad.

 

stage 7The race for the GC begins tomorrow. Stage 7 is the first stage in the mountains, not the high mountains, but a very steep summit finish that could shake things up a bit. Wiggins, Evans are in good shape, Denis Menchov (Katusha) could be the quiet assassin. He is taking care of business and keeping a low profile. He currently sits in 5th place. I can’t see Wiggins or Evans going for it tomorrow, they will simply ride defensively and check each other out I believe. It’s possible Frank Schleck, Alejandro Valverde or possibly Gesink could try for the win tomorrow. If Thomas Voeckler’s knee was okay I would pick him. Tomorrow is the kind of stage he loved to attack on. Levi Leipheimer could give it a try but I think it’s more likely to be someone more under the radar. 

Tomorrow is the kind of stage for a guy that is a good climber but not in contention for a top GC finish. I think Sylvan Chavanel will give it a go but I’m not sure he can handle the steepness of the last few kilometers. I’ve also got a feeling that the fabulous Fabian Cancellara may still be in yellow tomorrow evening.

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