Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

93rd Tour de France - ProT

France, July 1-23, 2006

Main Page    Results & report      Stage Details      Previous Stage   Next Stage

Stage 6 - Friday, July 7: Lisieux - Vitré, 189 km

Complete live report

12:50 CEST   
Hello all you cycling freaks out there, and welcome back to our Live coverage of the Tour de France. Today's stage 6 takes us 189 kilometres from Lisieux to Vitré in Northwestern France. There is one Cat 3 climb on the itinerary at km 27 - the Côte de la Hunière, 1.7 km at an average gradient of 6.7 percent), but the rest of the stage is only bumpy. Three intermediate sprints await us at kms 46, 116 and 162, so today might be another day for Boonen et al. to show what they're all about - and for the World Champion to finally achieve his first 2006 TdF stage win...

12:56 CEST   
Today's stage is departing under cloudy skies, with temperatures barely reaching 20° Celsius. There is a risk of rain showers, but if it does come down, only a few drops are expected. The sky will clear up a little as we move further Southwest from Normandy into the Bretagne, where a light headwind waits for the peloton, but rain showers at the finish cannot be ruled out at this time. We'll see how it evolves.

13:03 CEST   
At the start, a it has already shortly poured down just after the riders where signing in. The rain has stopped now, and the bunch is moving towards the official start just outside of town. We have one non-starter today: Fabio Sacchi (Milram) had to abandon the Tour due to respiratory problems caused by a bronchitis.

13:18 CEST   
First attack comes at km 9: Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) - he is joined by Giuseppe Guerini (T-Moblie), Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) and David Lopez (Euskaltel). A few clicks later, Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) joined in, too.

13:20 CEST    12km/177km to go
The group of five has 20 seconds over the peloton, where Antony Geslin (Bouygues) just made a move to bridge up to them. But it looks like he won't succeed, as the break in front is working hard to get away.

13:21 CEST    14km/175km to go
Geslin is back in the bunch, and the five leaders have increased their advantage to 45 seconds. This could be it...

13:27 CEST    19km/170km to go
But the bunch still looks undecided on the fate of these first challengers. The gap is getting smaller again, now at 32 seconds.

13:34 CEST   
As the bunch moves on at the foot of the Côte de la Hunière, the teammates of dotted jersey wearer Jérôme Pineau drive the tempo.

In the climb, Backstedt as well as Augé have problems.

13:38 CEST    28km/161km to go
So it's the same strategy as in the last stages at Bouygues - they want to hold on to the mountains jersey for as long as they can.

Guerini and Lopez manage to hold the French riders off and take 4 and 3 points respectively at the summit, while Pineau grabs 2 for third place. The Italian and the Spaniard fly down the descent now, and have a bit of a gap.

13:42 CEST   
...But the bunch is faster. The two are caught at km 32.

13:47 CEST   

Apparently, the duel over winning the jersey for the best mountain climber may be more intense than expected. The two who got it on yesterday were Walter Bénéteau of Bouygues Telecom, whose teammate Jêrome Pineau is leading the mountains classification and Saunier Duval's David de la Fuente, who is second in the rankings. The two mixed it up previously, being fined for "irregular behaviour" on Wednesday.

Writing on www.sports1.de, CSC's Jens Voigt described the scene this way: "The two were riding next to each other and all of a sudden, the Spaniard hits Bénéteau full in the face! It was really loud, just like in a boxing match! Bénéteau's helmet and glasses practically flew off his head! He swerved, because of course he hadn't been expecting anything like that."

"Behind them everyone was shouting, 'Hey, are you crazy? If you're going to fight, go to the side of the road! Leave us out of your problems!' Bénéteau didn't blink an eye but went directly to the commissaire. I think that they will throw de la Fuente out of the race."

13:49 CEST   
The attacks continue, but nobody is able to get away.

13:54 CEST   

The bunch is already nearing Villedieu-Les-Bailleul (km 46), where the first sprint of the day will be held. Maybe this is one of the reasons why a breakaway cannot be established.

Crédit Agricole's Thor Hushovd was very annoyed yesterday about his relegation on Wednesday. The sprinter, whose overall goal was the Green jersey, is now 41 points behind Robbie McEwen, and has dropped the thought of reaching his goal. "I looked at my sprint about 20 times," he said. "It's not me who is at fault, it's the commissaires. I do hold my line, and Bernhard Eisel comes from behind. But he, too, does everything right. That's the way it is in a sprint...

"To get relegated for that is nonsense to me. I'll stop chasing the Green jersey, to me it's dead. With 40 points down on McEwen, it's impossible. My only goal now is a stage win. The commissaires made a mistake, that's only human, but they shouldn't come back on their decision, neither - that would be even worse."

14:02 CEST   
Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux) have taken a little distance off the front, followed by French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne), Anthony Geslin (Bouygues) and Christian Knees (Milram).

14:04 CEST   
And Vaugrenard takes the sprint points ahead of Augé and Brard, after the chasers joined the leading duo at km 47.

They are now five against the bunch behind.

14:14 CEST    54km/135km to go
The five still have a small gap of about 30 seconds, and while Michael Albasini (Liquigas) has tried to catch them, he failed and is now back inside the bunch.

14:22 CEST   
It was a pretty fats stage start: 46,9 kilometres were ridden in the first hour.

We have a pretty interesting group countering now: Pavel Padrnos (Discovery Channel), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R), Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Axel Merckx (Phonak), Tom Boonen (Quickstep), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) and Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas). They are gaining ground on the five escapists!

14:25 CEST   
Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues) are also within the chase group, who has joined the leaders at km 60. We have now a lead group of 17 riders, including the maillot jaune!

14:29 CEST    70km/119km to go
This huge breakaway, almost a little peloton itself, increases its lead at the moment. It has already over one minute on the main field. This is unusual!

14:32 CEST   
Erratum: it is not Christian Knees from Milram, but Iker Camano from Euskaltel who is part of the lead group.

14:37 CEST    74km/115km to go
Davitamon-Lotto is now at the front of the bunch, working to reduce the gap. It would be very odd indeed if a breakaway with yellow jersey Tom Boonen would get through, and McEwen to sprint for 18th!

Backstedt, Brard and Geslin go for it themselves, now.

14:40 CEST   
Lampre and CSC are also working to reduce the gap, while the group in front is disorganised. Backstedt, Brard and Geslin got away, with Hushovd trying to reach them. Boonen and the remainder of the break are chasing more or less.

14:44 CEST   
Boonen, Hushovd etc. are caught - they sat up and let themselves be swallowed by the Lampre-led bunch.

Off the front, Backstedt, Brard and Geslin are still away.

14:47 CEST    84km/105km to go
Stuart O'Grady has fallen back behind the field, and is talking to his directeur sportif through his microphone.

The bunch is now riding very slowly, recuperating from that fast start. The break already has 1.22 minutes over them.

14:52 CEST    86km/103km to go
The lead of the three escapists is rapidly increasing: over 2.30 minutes in just a few kilometres. Boonen is taking a drink from a teammate.

In front, the three are now working well together, with Brard taking long turns.

14:56 CEST   
A quick weather update: Sorry to say it's still sort of grey up in the sky, and there might be a few raindrops coming down here and there. The riders probably enjoy the moderate temperature of about 20° Celsius today though, after the heat of the first Tour stages. There is a light breeze blowing from the West-Southwest, which means there is a head- and side wind for most of the time.

Quickstep are leading the bunch. Looking relaxed.

14:59 CEST    93km/96km to go
The leading trio is at the feed zone in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne now, grabbing their musettes. Let's see how long it takes for the bunch to get there.

15:03 CEST   
As the race situation is back to "normal" for a fattish sprinter's stage, let's take a look at our reader e-mails.

Andrew, an Aussie living in Switzerland, has had an interesting idea regarding the fight between De La Fuente and Walter Bénéteau (see above). "Let's take this de la Fuente idea further. For the long (and sometime boring) flat stages, they should have intermediate fighting sprint points where anything goes - kicking, biting, punching, head butting (a la Robbie McEwen) etc. Points for the top 3 in these fighting sprints go towards the "Hardman" jersey - which should be red."

15:05 CEST    98km/91km to go
The riders in the bunch are now also stuffing food into their pockets. The gap to the break has exceeded 4 minutes. There are beautiful French Chateau's to see in this part of the country, too, and inside the villages, spectators abound as usual in the Tour.

15:08 CEST   
Bobby Julich hasn't taken his train coat off yet though - the risk of further showers is just too great.

In front, Brard is doing an excellent job leading. He also has great time trial abilities.

15:10 CEST   
Daniel from Cincinnati, Ohio, is "all for the 'Hardman' competition to increase the level of interest as well as danger during the long, flat stages." However, he does wonder, "would the podium girls awarding the jersey kiss the rider on the cheeks or kick him in the groin?" Either, in his estimation, would be fine.

Keep 'em coming, people.

15:16 CEST    105km/84km to go
Julich has now given his rain jacket to his directeur sportif, Alain Gallopin, in the team car. All the riders are either eating or chatting away. This is the rest period before the great finale today. Voigt an O'Grady are leading now, also talking to each other.

The break has an advantage of 5.11 at this moment.

15:25 CEST   
A Rabobank rider has punctured in the back of the bunch. Some of his teammates are waiting for him - it's Oscar Freire. He's getting back on, slowly.

15:30 CEST   
Bas in the Netherlands suggests a white jersey for our fantasy Hard Man competition - "to spot the blood for extra points. We can make the Young rider Jersey red, makes him a good target for practice!" Uhh...

Karl from Colorado writes, "Just imagine the panic if a break of 'regular' riders is about to be bridged to by the top two or three in the Hardman competition. I bet they wouldn't just sit up like breaks often do when the peloton catches them."

Or, as James Sandberg, writes, "Each TDF rider should be allowed to have a frame pump to poke into the front wheels of their competitors to ‘slow down’ their sprints or breakaway attempts."

All these pretty castles on the roadside remind me of the days of knights jousting...

15:36 CEST    119km/70km to go
The advantage of the break is staying the same now - a little over 4 minutes. The sky is still grey, but no rain at the moment. Let's hope it stays that way as we don't want to see any injured riders for real, do we?

15:42 CEST   
Backstedt does a turn. The other two riders in the break can definitely ease up a lot behind the tall Swede! But he's not the one to work the most; in fact it's Geslin who leads most - he is also the best-placed rider on GC in the group.

15:53 CEST   
The race is moving on towards Vitré on pretty narrow roads, through beautiful hay fields and green pastures. Many spectators build encouragement signs at the roadside, also for the French football team, which is playing against Italy in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Yesterday's breakaway Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R) even had the word "France" shaved into the hair on the back of his head.

15:57 CEST    134km/55km to go
But the break's gap is getting thinner: only 3.20 now with 55 kilometres to go. All three ride hard, but might not be able to hold off the charging bunch. They still have time, though...

16:01 CEST   
...And so do we. Daniel Benson has another suggestion for our Hard Man competition: "Put the hard man in a black-and-white striped jersey, a la an escaped prisoner on the rampage. He gets to physically attack 5 riders during the day. The riders attacked can gain or lose points, as judged by the ASO, for the effectiveness of parrying the blows.

"Points are also given to riders who have the ability to slap intruding fans at 50 kph without losing balance, while cameras, mobile phones and other paraphernalia nicked from fans accumulate bonus points.

"On the Champs Elysées, a Wall of Death will be constructed and the Hardman du Tour will be pitted against three cycling fans, chosen by lottery and dressed up as famous murderers, Jean-Marie LePen and a grizzly bear." Jeez!

Erik Zabel (Milram) is back inside the bunch after a puncture. Like any leader, he was brought back on by two teammates.

16:06 CEST   
Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon) is again doing his excellent job on the Tour, imposing a rhythm on the bunch in front. The man is a beast! Crédit Agricole, Rabobank and Quick.Step are also working to reduce the gap or at least keep it within certain limits.

Will Robbie McEwen take his third Tour victory today, or will the World Champion finally get his?

16:12 CEST    144km/45km to go
Florent Brard gets a bottle from his team car. He looks focused, although the gap is now reduced to 3 minutes. The countryside is bumpy, but it might not be enough for the break to last, especially as there is a light headwind.

In the back, Alexandre Moos is getting some bottles for his Phonak teammates.

16:19 CEST    151km/38km to go
Vansummeren is still driving hard in the front of the bunch, and reducing the break's advantage further. The race is now happening on a larger, straight road.

16:24 CEST   
Finally, before we go back to the race for good, Jos de Groot added one more tweak to our Hard Man competition: "Riders who gain no Hard Man points at all should be used for target practice at the annual 'Tom Steels Bidon Throwing Contest'" Now, how's that? 'Nuff said. For now.

16:29 CEST    161km/28km to go
You can't honour these helper's achievements enough. It's only because Boonen has guys like Vasseur, Tosatto - and all thew others - that he the bunch able to catch a break like this. It's a lot of hard work, and they seem to be flat out now on this long, straight road towards, where the finale will also be fought out on a very long straight (2km).

16:33 CEST   
The leaders take shorter turns now. They still hang in there, though, showing a great performance. Brard got another energy gel from his team car.

16:37 CEST   
Anthony Geslin, who is now leading, finished third behind Boonen and Valverde in last year's World Championships, remember? With big beast Backstedt and the French champion, this trio isn't easy to catch...

They're at the 25km banner, with the gap down to almost one minute.

16:39 CEST   
Chris Brewer reports for thepaceline.com from the finish line: "Despite low hanging clouds, the final 5 kms is dry right now and temps 24C here in Vitré. From 5000m the first 1000m is downhill and sweeps left into town. As the road goes moderately uphill into Vitré there is a nice little castle to the left at the 3 km to go banner.

"The riders will continue to climb slightly for about 500m looking right at a cathedral in the center of town. A right-left turn puts them into a little neighbourhood and the road flattens out for a bit. Under the 2km banner and the road goes up again a little for 200m before bending to the right and setting up an 1800m false flat run in to the finish line."

16:46 CEST    171km/18km to go
Known in the English speaking world as the 'voice of cycling', TV commentator Phil Liggett just wrote in to give us his prediction for today's stage: "Look for Christian Vandevelde of CSC to take a flyer as the breakaway is reeled in. I expect him take the victory by 3 seconds." Thanks, Phil!

The bunch seems to have eased up a bit in the chase. They don't want to move in on the break too soon... The gap is at 1.07 now.

16:51 CEST   
Bram Tankink (Quickstep) is driving the bunch, together with a Rabo rider and his teammate Tosatto, as the leaders reach the 15 km to go banner. Still going strong, especially Brard, but they'll probably feel the breath of their chasers in their necks soon.

The gap is under the famous 1 minute-mark.

16:54 CEST    178km/11km to go
Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) just punctured. He hasn't been very lucks these last few days, after winning stage 1 in Strasbourg. His teammates bring him back on.

The sky is getting darker. Cross your fingers... ah, now a little bit of rain has started.

16:55 CEST   
It's only a light drizzle, but still. The gap is down to 30 seconds. There's more wind blowing now, too.

16:57 CEST   
Rabobank is working for Freire as they pass under the 10 km mark.

Brard is going flat out in front, really driving hard. 19 seconds.

16:59 CEST   
The peloton moves in on them. Backstedt is suffering. The bunch can see them now, and the motorbikes are getting out of there. Brard is looking back.

Not to be outdone by Phil, Dave Harmon from Eurosport reckons Jimmy Casper (who just punctured) will get up again in a bunch sprint!

17:02 CEST    184km/5km to go
The bunch will be together again for the finale. The three riders gave their everything, but it wasn't enough. Well done anyway. The breakaway will be over in a minute, but the peloton is just anticipating the moment.

17:03 CEST    185km/4km to go
30 metres as the trio comes into Vitré. That's it. The Lampre boys are charging, too.

17:04 CEST    186km/3km to go
Lampre, Quickstep are driving the bunch. McEwen has hidden somewhere.

17:04 CEST   
Freire is there, Boonen 10th or so. Another loop, at the castle.

17:05 CEST    187km/2km to go
The lead out at the moment is less messy than the last few days.

17:06 CEST    188km/1km to go
The finish straight! Lampre still leading. Pozzato, Tosatto and De Jongh are ready for Tom just behind.

17:07 CEST   
Freire holds Boonen's wheel, as McEewn is still further behind. Now it's on!

17:08 CEST   
And McEwen did it perfectly again with Steegmans! Third victory!! Second Bennati, Third Boonen.

17:11 CEST   
Steegmans is the perfect locomotive, even though the sprint was much more organised today. They outsmarted everyone again. Boonen keeps Yellow, though.

17:16 CEST   
Thanks for having joined in on the fun again today. We'll be back with the first long time trial in this Tour tomorrow - a decisive day for General Classification before we finally move to the mountains! Be sure to tune in, and thanks again for all the brilliant ideas today!


1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                4.10.17
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                     
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step-Innergetic                    
4 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Francaise Des Jeux                   
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                        
6 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank                               
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram                                   
8 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas                               
9 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                      
10 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      
General classification after stage 6
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step-Innergetic            29.21.00
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                   0.12
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile                         0.21
4 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank                           0.25
5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                   
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                    0.27
7 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel              0.35
8 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak                             0.36
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.37


Back to top