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Le Tour 2001

89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Main page    Stage profile    Start List    Results

Stage 6 - Friday July 12: Fourges-les-Eaux - Alencon, 199.5 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 12:29 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:14 CEST

12:00 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's live coverage of Stage 6 from Fourges-les-Eaux to Alencon. Today's stage is the longest of the Tour so far, 200 kilometres heading southwest across Normandy into the green, verdant countryside of La France Profonde. There are two category 4 climbs - Côte Du Val D'any (km 61) and Côte De Saint-Vigor (km 71.5), but otherwise the stage is fairly flat.

Weather report: It's cool, overcast and humid. People are expecting rain at the end of the stage.

12:31 CEST
The neutral section is over and the race is now under way, with the official start given at 12:31pm. Yesterday it took just 4 kilometres before the attacks started - how long will it be today?

There is now very little wind, and a low grey sky, but it's not certain that it will rain as predicted earlier.

It's reported that Marco Pinotti (Lampre) has has gone back to Italy after crashing out of the race yesterday, and Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto) did not start due to a broken collarbone. There are now 186 riders in the race.

12:41 CEST
There have been no attacks so far, and the peloton is still together after the first 5 kilometres of racing.

We spoke to Rik Verbrugghe's Lotto-Adecco director sportig Claude Criquielion today before the start. "Well it's really bad for us because Rik is not going to have a chance for the GC," he said. "He was suffering from stomach cramps and he dropped back to the race doctor's car. I told him to come back real fast. Just as he was coming back there was a big crash..."

Unfortunately for Rik, his race is now over after he was diagnosed with a broken collarbone later in Rouen hospital.

12:53 CEST - 13 km
Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) is the first rider to attack, at kilometre 12. Let the games begin! He has a 13 second lead after 13 km.

13:02 CEST - 17 km
Sandy Casar (FDJ) has bridged up to Kroon, along with Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Anthony Morin (CA), and Bram De Groot (Rabobank). Casar has gone straight past and is now out in front on his own, with the other four riders chasing. The peloton is at 25 seconds.

Front flat for Serge Baguet (Lotto).

Cyclingnews spoke with Rabobank's Erik Dekker before the start today, asking him how he is finding the race so far. "I'm doing better but I'm really just riding for conditioning. One leg is still weaker than the other, so I have trouble accelerating or going really hard. I'm just going to go along day by day."

13:07 CEST - 21 km
The break has been caught, and it's all back together after 20 km. David Millar (Cofidis) is chasing back onto the peloton after falling earlier in the stage. He rejoins the peloton, with the help of his teammates.

13:15 CEST - 29 km
The start hasn't been quite as quick as yesterday, but the action is certainly intense now, with rider after rider attacking to try and establish that crucial breakaway. The sprinters teams might be a little more wary today after yesterday's successful escape by Jaan Kirsipuu and four others. They were allowed nearly a five minute lead with around 50 km to go before anyone decided to do anything, and by then it was too late as they stayed away to win by 33 seconds.

Kirsipuu's win was quite impressive, as he covered every single attack that the others threw at him. They knew he was the best sprinter, and tried everything to get rid of him. But he's also tremendously powerful and was able to match every acceleration. Michael Sandstod did well at the end to finish second, after leading out from a long way out. Third placed Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) did not seem to have the legs, as he had a few opportunities to counter-attack in the final kilometres, but didn't.

13:21 CEST - 33 km
Kirsipuu's Ag2r teammate Ludovic Turpin and Jean Delatour's Laurent Brochard have got themselves a little way in front of the bunch. They are being chased by 17 riders, with the main peloton close behind.

13:31 CEST - 40 km
The peloton reforms, still no-one can break the shackles. Remember yesterday it didn't happen until over halfway through the stage. That also changes the dynamic of the race, because a 5 minute gap is much easier for the peloton to close when the break has been out in the wind all day, as opposed to only 90 km.

Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Adecco) is one of the favourites to day, should the stage end in a bunch sprint, as he has on average been the fastest rider in the mass finishes. He trails Erik Zabel by just two points in the green jersey competition, and certainly considers himself a chance. He can climb well enough to make it through the mountains, and we could well have an interesting tussle between him and Zabel, who clearly wants to win a seventh consecutive green jersey.

13:40 CEST - 47 km
Speak of the devil...The first sprint in Les Andelys has been won by Robbie McEwen from Jan Svorada and Erik Zabel. The points awarded are 6, 4, and 2, which means that McEwen is the virtual wearer of the green jersey. There are two more intermediate sprints today at Saint-Sulpice-Sur-Risle (km 133.5), and Courtomer (km 164.5) as well as the finishing sprint in Alencon.

41.1 kilometres were covered in the first hour.

Weather: The sky is a bit lower, and there are a couple of raindrops.

13:53 CEST - 56 km
The peloton is still together after the first sprint.

Yesterday, sprinter Tom Steels became the first rider to abandon the Tour, and Mapei was pretty disappointed about what happened with him when we spoke to them this morning. He came into the Tour in good shape, but got a stomach virus and was not able to recuperate. His teammate Fabien De Waele is also suffering from the same bug, and has lost 6 kg already...

14:00 CEST - 62 km
The first climb of the day is the Côte Du Val d'Any, and has been won by FDJeux.com's Christophe Mengin, who is the current wearer of the polka dot climber's jersey. In second place was Michael Sandstod (CSC) followed by Stephane Goubert (Jean Delatour).

14:14 CEST - 72 km
The riders are now on the Cote de Saint-Vigor, with FDJeux.com controlling the pace for Mengin, who will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow regardless. He wins the climb in front of Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Tomas Konecny (Domo), thereby extending his lead in the competition. He now has 39 points.

14:24 CEST - 82 km
A group of four riders attacked after the second climb: Guennadi Mikhailov (Lotto), Robert Hunter (Mapei), Christian Moreni (Alessio) and Stephane Auge (Jean Delatour). They have just 10 seconds lead on the peloton, which is still travelling at a high speed in the second hour of racing.

14:29 CEST - 85 km
The peloton is in two groups chasing them, and they catch them. No team is really controlling the race at the moment. Mikhailov tries again, and is chased down again.

His teammate Serge Baguet counter attacks. Jean-Cryil Robin (FDJeux.com) goes with him. Laurent Brochard and Karsten Kroon bridge up too, forming a group of four. Two more come across: Samuel Sanchez and Leon Van Bon. Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) tries, but has missed it.

The peloton is in bits trying to chase the front six.

14:34 CEST - 90 km
The second hour of racing saw 46 kilometres covered, with the overall average speed 43.5 km/h. It's still a headwind.

ONCE and US Postal have got riders on the front of the peloton. They catch Mazzoleni, who sat up. The gap is 15 seconds.

In the break, Laurent Brochard is the best placed on GC, 71st at 3'40.

14:40 CEST - 93 km/107 km to go
Telekom lend a hand to ONCE at the front, with the odd Bonjour rider rolling through as well. They are riding hard to bring the race back together, to avoid what happened yesterday. The gap is 25 seconds.

We spoke with ONCE's Abraham Olano this morning, who is in his last Tour de France. He is in a different role this year, riding tempo for the team rather than being a team leader. "I'm going OK today. A lot of work to do," he said.

14:45 CEST - 96 km/103 km to go
The peloton is strung out chasing these six riders, and they succeed in capturing them just before the feed zone. Karsten Kroon attacks - not good form. He takes two ONCE riders with him, who make sure he goes no further.

14:50 CEST - 101 km/98 km to go
The feed zone has finished, and the race starts again. Stephane Auge (Jean Delatour) attacks hard, taking the peloton with him. Then it's Kroon, who gets Bonjour's Walter Bénéteau on his wheel. Rolf Aldag drags up the peloton, with Credit Agricole very much to the fore.

14:56 CEST - 106 km/93 km to go
Seven riders in the lead: Botcharov (Ag2r), Durand (FDJeux.com), Mattan and Lelli (Cofidis), Langella (FDJ), Wauters (Rabobank). But no luck. Mattan is annoyed as he sees the peloton coming up yet again.

Wauters continues, with Mattan on his wheel, and Franck Bouyer brings up the peloton. Still no real break.

15:02 CEST - 111 km/88 km to go
Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) makes a big Time Out signal, but is ignored. The attacks continue. Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) attacks with Durand (FDJ), Wesemann (Telekom), Paul van Hyfte (CSC-Tiscali), Emmanuel Magnien (Bonjour) and Massimo Appollonio (Tacconi).

A light rain is falling.

15:11 CEST - 118 km/81 km to go
This might be the break. Zaballa, Durand, Wesemann, Van Hyfte, Magnien Apollonio have 25 seconds on the peloton, which is still attempting to chase. Erik Dekker, Stuart O'Grady, Nico Mattan, Cristian Moreni are all active in front, but finally they sit up and ONCE slow it down. The rain is still falling, and this could be a crucial time. Several riders put on their helmets.

15:15 CEST - 121 km/78 km to go
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano takes the opportunity to answer the call of nature, but it might not be the best time. Rabobank and Domo are now driving the peloton, with Wauters, Dekker, Van Bon and Knaven. The gap is a minute to the leaders, and they panic.

ONCE yell at them, as does Armstrong. You don't attack the yellow jersey when he's taking a leak or has a mechanical. He is chasing back on through the caravan with some of his teammates, Leipheimer, Mengin, Dierckxsens are also there.

15:20 CEST - 125 km/74 km to go
There's still a lot of discussion going on at the front of the peloton, now between Lotto and ONCE. They have not yet decided to chase, but have not let the berak get completely away. The gap is now 1'31 to Zaballa, Durand, Wesemann, Van Hyfte, Magnien Apollonio. The best placed rider in the break is Wesemann, who is 92nd on GC at 4'08.

15:30 CEST - 133 km/66 km to go
Jacky Durand takes the sprint in Saint-Sulpice-Sur-Risle in front of Paul Van Hyfte and Massimo Apollonio. That won't effect the green jersey competition much, and McEwen is still the virtual leader by two points, after taking the first sprint of the day. There is one more intermediate sprint at Courtomer (km 164) before the finish.

The peloton follows at 1'45, with the chase being led by Andrea Tafi, two ONCE riders, Lotto-Adecco and Credit Agricole. Tafi gives a wave to the crowd.

15:39 CEST - 139 km/60 km to go
The break's lead is now 1'30, as the peloton seems intent on chasing them down. Magnien takes the opportunity to refuel from the drinks motorbike, while Wesemann drops back to talk to his team car. With him in the break, Telekom don't have to do any work in the peloton. Could today finally belong to Zabel?

15:47 CEST - 145 km/54 km to go
There is a good cooperation amongst the leading teams in the peloton: Mapei, ONCE, Credit Agricole and Lotto are all contributing to the chase of the breakaways: Constantino Zaballa, Jacky Durand, Steffen Wesemann, Paul Van Hyfte, Emmanuel Magnien and Massimo Apollonio, who attacked with 88 km to go.

The gap is down to 1'20.

US Postal are having another easy day, as they are not in the break and don't have to work in the peloton. Floyd Landis told Cyclingnews this morning "I'm feeling good, it's going to be fast today again. Jeez I've got to get out of here. There's just so many people, so many guests..." We let Floyd navigate his way through the crowd to the start line...

15:58 CEST - 153 km/46 km to go
The combined chase is relentless, bringing the leaders back to 1'05. The most they ever got was 1'45 - a contrast to yesterday when the break was allowed 4'47. Tafi is still contributing a lot at the front, working for his sprinter Oscar Freire.

David Millar, who fell earlier in the stage, has dropped back to the team doctor's car for treatment on his knee.

16:05 CEST - 161 km/38 km to go
Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE), Jonathan Vaughters (CA), Mario Aerts and Hans De Clercq (Lotto), Andrea Tafi and Laszlo Bodrogi (Mapei) are the main men at the front of the peloton. Durand and co's gap is still shrinking, now down to 1'00.

16:10 CEST - 164 km/35 km to go
Apollonio goes for the sprint in Courtomer and wins it in front of Magnien and Van Hyfte. It's still a minute back to the peloton with 35 km to go.

The crowds lining the route are, as always during the Tour, quite incredible. It is very rare not to hear cheering.

16:20 CEST - 170 km/29 km to go
Under 30 kilometres to go of rolling terrain into Alencon, and it's still Lotto, Mapei, Credit Agricole and a couple of ONCE riders leading the chase of the six leaders. They are getting a lot closer, and have brought it back to under 40 seconds.

A fall - Shefer (Alessio) comes down with about 15 others. A big tangle on the road. Vasseur avoids it, but it seems as though Shefer is badly off. Three Ag2r riders are also involved, but they seem unhurt - they just need new bikes.

16:26 CEST - 175 km/24 km to go
Shefer is taken off on a stretcher and is thus out of the race. The chase continues.

16:32 CEST - 179 km/20 km to go
The leaders pass under 20 km to go with just 33 seconds on the peloton. This chase has been going on for the last 50 plus kilometres, and has not let up. Tafi is doing a lot of work, hoping that Freire will beat McEwen, Zabel and the rest today.

16:40 CEST - 185 km/14 km to go
Robbie McEwen
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Agnolutto (Ag2r) is chasing back on through the cars - a good effort after losing a lot of time due to the crash a few km ago. It's raining again, just in time for the finish.

Christophe Moreau is also helping the chase. Credit Agricole want to get O'Grady up for some green jersey points, but he'll have to get around Zabel, McEwen, Freire, Cooke and Kirsipuu.

Notably absent from the chase has been Telekom, who have smartly placed a rider (Wesemann) in the break, forcing the other teams to do the work. Once they are caught, Telekom can get to the front and set up a train. That's Plan A. But Zabel still has to finish it off, and he hasn't yet been able to do that. The sprints so far in this Tour have definitely not been one sided.

Jacky Durand attacks the break, just as they get caught.

16:42 CEST - 189 km/10 km to go
No chance. Durand is caught well before the 10 km to go banner. It's peloton groupee, with Credit Agricole now leading.

16:46 CEST - 191 km/8 km to go
Telekom now have four men in the front of the peloton as well. It's going to be a big wind up to the sprint now. The rain has eased off again.

16:48 CEST - 193 km/6 km to go
Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis) punctures, he gets a quick change but will have trouble getting back on with just 6 km to go.

The peloton split around a roundabout with 5 km to go. Oscar Freire's world champion's jersey is clearly visible near the front, as is Zabel's green and McEwen's green and gold.

16:50 CEST - 195 km/4 km to go
Look out for Kirsipuu as well, who will be on a high after yesterday. The peloton is massing before the final rush. Igor Gonzalez is leading one half of it.

Tafi winds up the speed.

16:52 CEST - 197 km/2 km to go
Tafi does a big turn, followed by Trampusch (Mapei). Then Baguet, and the Telekom boys Aldag, Hondo and Fagnini. McEwen is on Ludo Dierckxsens wheel.

Baden Cooke is also up there.

16:53 CEST - 198 km/1 km to go
Last kilometre. Aldag leads, and Ludo Diercksens tries to get around him.

16:54 CEST - 199 km/0 km to go
McEwen is sixth into the final corner. Hondo leads, then Fagnini, but Zabel is not on his wheel (Ivanov is). It doesn't matter, as Zabel wins in front of Freire and McEwen!

Fagnini raises his arm as he realises Zabel has done it. It's his 12th Tour stage win and his 13th win of the season.

Zabel therefore keeps his green jersey, but the battle will no doubt resume tomorrow. No sprinter has won more than one stage in this year's Tour.


1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom               4.23.07
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco
4 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre Daikin                       
5 Sergei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 
6 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole                   
8 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour
9 Arvis Piziks (Lat) CSC-Tiscali
10 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Tacconi Sport

General classification after stage 6

1 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski         23.29.03
2 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                         0.04
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service                 0.07
4 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski                          0.12
5 Abraham Olano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                         0.22
6 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service         0.25
7 Isidro Nozal (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                          0.27
8 José Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski                          0.28
9 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service
10 Marcos A.Serrano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                     0.30


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