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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003

Main Page    Stage Profile    Start List    Latest live report    Results

Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney, Jeff Jones, Chris Henry, and Gabriella Ekström

Stage 6 - Friday July 11: Nevers - Lyon, 230 km

Complete Live Report

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 11:45 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

11:31 CEST    
As the summer heat continues on Friday, the Tour peloton will go from Nevers across the upper Loire River valley through Saone-Et-Loire and down into the Rhone River valley to Lyon. Stage 6 ought to be a long hot ride to Lyon, one of the six original Tour villes-étapes from the 1903 edition and France's third-largest city.

As usual, there are three intermediate sprints today: Devay (36.5km), La Clayette (134.5km) and Chauffailles (148km). There are also a couple of Cat. 3 climbs: Cote de Les Echarmeaux (159km) and Cote de Lozanne (207.5km mark).

11:54 CEST    
The riders are now on the road, minus Angel Vicioso (ONCE) who crashed heavily in the finale yesterday and fractured a wrist. Rabobank's Remmert Wielinga actually crashed in the neutralised section but without any serious repercussions, it seems. Temperatures today are expected to be around the 30 °C mark, and the riders will have a bit of a tailwind. With this being the last day before the mountains start, the sprinters' teams will probably try and hold it together.

Before you all ask, Tyler Hamilton has once again started the stage. He had his broken collarbone x-rayed again last night in Nevers, and was given the green light to continue.

"I am ready to ride as long as the injury allows. And I feel that I can compete with the other riders. I might not be at 100 percent, but I can give it 90 or 95 percent, and that gives me the feeling of being in the race," said Hamilton to Danish TV2.

12:17 CEST    21 km/209 km to go
After 5 km of racing, a group of eight riders attacked:

Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC
Carlos Da Cruz (Fra) FDJeux.com
Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon
Stéphane Auge (Fra) Credit Agricole
Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto Domo
Damien Nazon (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere
Raffaele Ferrara (Ita) Alessio
Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Jean Delatour

They currently have a lead of 10", and are being chased hard by the peloton.

12:19 CEST    27 km/203 km to go
The group has been caught by the peloton, with 10 km to go until the first intermediate sprint in Devay.

12:27 CEST    34 km/196 km to go
Several more attacks have followed, but all have been unsuccessful. The peloton is now together, preparing for the first intermediate sprint.

12:33 CEST    38 km/192 km to go
Stuart O'Grady and Anthony Geslin have attacked, and have a 400m gap to the bunch. O'Grady took the 6 points for the intermediate sprint, followed by Geslin. In third place was Alessandro Petacchi, who is now the Maillot Vert virtuel, having started the day only 1 point behind Robbie McEwen.

13:00 CEST    57 km/173 km to go
After covering 48.6 km in the first hour, the peloton has decided to let O'Grady and Geslin go, and these two have increased their advantage to 3'40. If they can hold on for long enough, then O'Grady will pick up some valuable bonus points in his quest for the green jersey. Being an Australian, he won't mind the fact that the temperatures are over the 30 degree mark. O'Grady started the day 1'46 behind Victor Hugo Pena on GC, meaning that he is the Maillot Jaune virtuel, leader on the road.

Geslin has already been involved in a breakaway in this year's Tour during stage 3, when he attacked with around 75 km to go. Perhaps today will be more successful for the Brioches la Boulangere rider.

13:11 CEST    67 km/163 km to go
The two leaders have really increased their advantage, and now have 7'00 on a fairly lethargic peloton. There is still a long way to go, and they will no doubt be allowed several more minutes, especially as there are only two of them.

The sprinters teams should be alert today however, because there are three days in the mountains coming up after this stage.

13:22 CEST    80 km/150 km to go
O'Grady and Geslin have not relaxed, and are now cruising along 10 minutes in front of the peloton, having covered 80 km in the first hour and 35 minutes. That is not particularly slow.

So what are the top riders using this year? During the live coverage, why not check out part 1 of our regular Bikes of the TdF. Today we show off the steeds used by Zabel, Ullrich, Simoni, McGee and Hamilton.

13:37 CEST    87 km/143 km to go
The gap is growing and growing, with O'Grady and Geslin now 14'15 (about 11 kilometres) in front of the peloton, which is still lethargically moving along in the summer heat.

O'Grady told Cyclingnews this morning that his plan was "The same as yesterday. I'll try and get in break myself. It hasn't been going so well [in the sprints] so I will have better chances that way."

13:50 CEST    95 km/135 km to go
Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) and Anthony Geslin (Brioches la Boulangere) are still 14'15 in front of the peloton as they make their way towards Lyon. They're being helped by a tailwind, and have covered 45.5 km in the second hour, for an overall average speed of 47 km/h.

At the very least, O'Grady should pick up some more sprint bonus points, but it's up to the peloton to determine whether he and Geslin will be caught.

Brioches caravan takes a tumble!
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Meanwhile, in front of the race, a publicity vehicle from Brioches la Boulangere has managed to run itself off the road.

14:01 CEST    104 km/126 km to go
O'Grady and Geslin have increased their gap again! Now it's starting to look quite dangerous for the sprinters teams, as the pair is nearly 18 minutes in front of the peloton with 126 km to go.

We spoke to Fassa Bortolo's director Roberto Damiani this morning. "We're not going to work that hard today," he told Cyclingnews. "Other teams can't expect us to do all the work on a long hard stage like this. Obviously for Petacchi in a sprint, then we would ride. We already have three stage wins and we're pretty happy with that."

That could be a crucial factor in whether the break stays clear, as Fassa has been responsible for much of the chasing work in the flat stages, as well as Lotto-Domo.

14:16 CEST    114 km/116 km to go
The peloton has woken up at last, and has quickly knocked a minute and a half off O'Grady and Geslin's lead as they hit the halfway point. There's still 45 km to go until the first climb at Cote de Les Echarmeaux. Ag2r and FDJeux.com are the teams working in the peloton. Saeco is also well placed at the front, as is US Postal-Berry Floor, which has Victor Hugo Pena in yellow of course.

14:32 CEST    123 km/107 km to go
Cofidis have now joined in the chase, and the lead is coming down inexorably. Geslin and O'Grady are still riding steadily, though, and still above the often-quoted minute per 10 km to go in front.

Fabio Baldato (Alessio), who was involved in some of the crashes earlier in the week, has packed.

14:47 CEST    135 km/95 km to go
AG2R seem to be doing the bulk of the work on this long, straight, rolling and typically French stretch of road - Jaan Kirsipuu must be feeling good. The lead is coming down rather faster than that minute per 10 km rate, though, and it doesn't look that good for the breakaways as they come up to the second sprint of the day.

O'Grady leads across the line without a contest; there will be more action for third place when the bunch gets there.

The third hour of racing was ridden at an average of 39.6 kph (although that is for the two breakaways - the average for the bunch will be somewhat quicker).

14:59 CEST    
On the approach to the sprint, Serge Baguet (Lotto-Domo) jumps clear to pre-empt any action by the Fassa Bortolo team; presumably damage limitation for Robbie McEwen, who must have decided to leave it until the finish. He gets a few seconds clear, but sits up after the line and is reabsorbed into the bunch.

15:10 CEST    148 km/82 km to go
O'Grady again leads over the line for the third and final bonus sprint of the day at Chauffailles; Geslin doesn't contest it, so it will not be any surprise if he gets to take the two listed climbs for the day. The lead has stabilised a bit again at around 12.45; Jean Delatour have joined AG2R in the chase. At the back of the bunch, Iban Mayo gets his pedal tension tweaked by his team mechanic on the move.

15:21 CEST    
As the bunch come up to the third sprint it is Christophe Brandt who clips off the front for Lotto, but this time McEwen himself has sneaked up through the bunch and his teammate lets him through to pick up two points that put him back in the lead in the points competition for the moment.

15:29 CEST    159 km/71 km to go
The two leaders are now on the first third-category climb of this year's Tour, the 7 km Côte des Echarmeaux. As predicted, it is Geslin's turn to take the honours; O'Grady's 18 points from the sprints will be his main recompense for the day's efforts if the duo don't stay away. The lead is coming back down again now.

15:41 CEST    171 km/59 km to go
Christophe Mengin leads a lively sprint over the climb ahead of Finot in the spotty jersey, bringing him to within one point of the dubious honour of being the non-climber who gets embarrassingly shot off while wearing the climber's vest when the real climbing starts tomorrow. In fact Finot didn't make it into the points at all, so Mengin is now virtually spotty. Or something like that. Ahead the lead has fallen to around the 9 minute mark, the solid O'Grady riding on the hoods while the slighter Geslin favours the drops.

16:00 CEST    185 km/45 km to go
Fassa Bortolo told us earlier that they did not intend to do all the work today; they were not the only team that has an interest in a last bunch sprint before the mountains. However, now Dario Cioni has moved up to the front to help the mix of AG2R and FDJeux.com riders who have been setting the pace for a while now; there are also a few Credit Agricole riders hanging around to get in the way, though.
Alessandro Petacchi
Photo: © C.Henry/CN

Behind, Manuel Beltran (US Postal) punctures and gets a quick wheel change.

16:11 CEST    195 km/35 km to go
Meanwhile, there are a few teams that have been all but invisible today. This morning ONCE's Manolo Saiz said that they would be treating today as far as possible as a rest day, to save it for tomorrow. Did they think that it was possible to beat Armstrong? "The race is definitely not over; if it was I might as well go home and stay with my family. We're still here to win the Tour. We'll see already on Saturday what we can do; if climbers like Simoni and Mayo attack I'm sure Beloki will be interested in joining them."

The scenery has changed now; the stage started in rolling open agricultural land, but we are now well into the foothills of the Alps. The two leaders are approaching the day's second official climb, the Côte de Lozanne.

16:14 CEST    197 km/33 km to go
The slightly unusual sight of the maillot jaune dropping back to pick up bottles from the US Postal shows that the pecking order is unchanged in Armstrong's team. They, too, are sitting comfortably in the middle of the bunch.

Fassa Bortolo now have a train of three or four riders up the front and the bunch is stringing out behind them.

16:24 CEST    207.5 km/22.5 km to go
On the climb, O'Grady has a bit of a go at attacking Geslin, but the Frenchman comes back up to him.

Geslin watches O'Grady carefully up the climb and then takes the GPM points. With the gap down to 4 minutes, it doesn't look like they'll be staying away, but it is more or less all gently downhill from here, which might just be enough to tip the balance. The finish is anything but breakaway friendly, though, with a broad 2 kilometre finishing straight

As the bunch tackle the climb, there is quite a bit of damage being done at the back, with a dozen or so riders shelled out of the back, including Frederic Finot in the polka-dot jersey.

16:39 CEST    215 km/15 km to go
The timeboard official shows the leading duo that they have 2.20 in hand as they pass under the 15 km to go banner as Lotto move up to help the chase; although O'Grady and Geslin are still riding strongly, I don't fancy their chances of hanging onto it now.

16:43 CEST    220 km/10 km to go
Coming into the outskirts of the city of Lyon, the first ever stage finish town in 1903, and the crowds are massive. Although the finish proper is as safe as it can be, the preceding run-in is a bit trickier, which might be a help to the leaders, who certainly haven't given up hope yet.

16:45 CEST    
A crash at the front of the bunch brings down McEwen and Zabel on a corner, a wide right-hander. The leaders still have a minute in hand, and that might make the difference.

16:49 CEST    226 km/4 km to go
The organisation has gone out of the chase, but with just half a minute's lead it looks difficult for the duo. Vini Caldirola moving up.

16:52 CEST    228 km/2 km to go
Coming into the long finishing straight the duo have just under 20 seconds, but another crash brings down a few riders. O'Grady jumps to try out his pursuiting skills, but Geslin goes with him

16:54 CEST    
The chasers have the hares well in sight, but the front of the bunch is fragmenting into waves. The leaders are caught under the flamme rouge.

16:56 CEST    
And, regular as clockwork, Angelo Petacchi emerges from the maelstrom, taking advantage of a long lead-out from Paolo Bettini and pulls a couple of lengths clear of the opposition to take his fourth stage, with time for a salute and a glance over his shoulder. He moved a long way off his line, from left to right, but quite safely because nobody could get near him. He will wear the green jersey in the autobus tomorrow; it remains to be seen if he can stay inside the time limits on the tough days to come, though.

Baden Cooke, Fabrizio Guidi and Thor Hushovd are the best of the rest.

The crash victims are all up and onto the finish, we think. Zabel looks in some discomfort, while McEwen looked more annoyed than anything. No major changes on general classification, so Victor Hugo Pena will still be wearing yellow tomorrow, as we follow the race into the mountains, but we will undoubtedly see him doing what they pay him for in support of Lance Armstrong. Join us here on Cyclingnews for more live coverage from 11.15 CEST.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                 5.08.35
2 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com  
3 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Bianchi                
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
5 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-So.Di
6 Damien Nazon (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere
7 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole              
8 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco
9 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Jean Delatour
10 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 

General classification after stage 6

1 Victor Hugo Pena (Col) US Postal-Berry Floor           23.03.06
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor                0.01
3 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal-Berry Floor              0.05
4 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor                    
5 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor              0.23
6 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor                  0.27
7 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) US Postal-Berry Floor                      
8 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor                   0.28
9 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                            0.33
10 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski                            0.38

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