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95th Tour de France - GT

France, July 5-27, 2008

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Stage 6 - Thursday, July 10: Aigurande - Super Besse, 195.5km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

12:56 CEST   
Bonjour and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 95th Tour de France. After the time trial from two days ago, now it is up to the skinny guys to show their stuff. We are not in the high mountains yet, but the Massif Central will still offer some opportunities for the climbers to get some time gains, even if they may not be massive in the end. The 195.5 kilometres from Aigurande to Super-Besse feature two cat 4 and two cat 2 climbs – and the uphill finish happens to be from the latter sort. Should be an exciting day out on the roads in central France!

13:08 CEST   
The current race situation mirrors yesterday. We have three Frenchmen at the front, with Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux). The gap to the peloton is about a minute and a half. The home boys are really at it this year.

Chavanel was the one who accelerated at km six, taking his two compatriots with him. It makes communication much easier between the three. In the break in stage 3, there were two Frenchmen, an Italian and a US American, who luckily speaks French (Will Frischkorn). They communicated with Longo in Spanish. But today, everybody at the front speaks français.

13:10 CEST    33km/162.5km to go
The gap is growing quickly. After 33 kilometres it is already over two minutes.

The ever aggressive Sylvain Chavanel is on the attack again
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

13:18 CEST   
There is a prominent guest in car number one of Tour director Christian Prudhomme today. It is Prince Albert II of Monaco, who gets a closer look at the riders. Too bad we couldn't wire him for the heart rate data! We are sure he is keen to check out how it all works. After all, the Tour starts in the principality of Monaco, which he happens to oversee.

13:24 CEST   
Today's stage finish in Super Besse is not that difficult, according to some. This is based on sprinter Djamolidine Abdoujaparov being in the front group there a dozen years ago. There is a lot at stake today and there are lots of interesting scenarios. It's best to get the full scoop from Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes, who gave today's stage a thorough preview.

13:26 CEST    44km/151.5km to go
The gap keeps growing. It is around the four-minute mark for three Frenchman now.

Current race situation

  • Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux)
  • Peloton at 3.40

13:31 CEST   
The peloton is currently riding pedaling at a good 50 km/h. Is it strenuous? Well, Sebastian Lang's heart rate is not much above a hundred, sometimes below. What's your resting heart rate?

13:37 CEST   
We have heard that Oscar Freire, who finished second yesterday (not very nice to take Erik Zabel's spot!) has extended his contract with Rabobank. You can find all about it in today's latest news. You will also find an article trying to figure what colour Kim Kirchen's likes best. Well, in the end, he names three or four....

13:39 CEST    49km/146.5km to go
The sprint in Cressat at km 44.5 was taken by Bichot, ahead of Vaugrenard and Chavanel. The peloton passed four and a half minutes later.

Stijn Devolder when warming up for the TT. But the Belgian is looking forward to the mountains
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

13:43 CEST   
GC contender Stijn Devolder talked to Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé yesterday. Devolder was anxious already last night. "I am looking forward to Super Besse. I don't think much will happen, though. I think the gaps will be small." This further indicates the climb isn't tough enough to drop even the guys who aren't specialist climbers.

But Devolder revealed his real desire. "I am looking forward to the Alps and the Pyrenees. Those are the real classic mountains."

13:48 CEST   
We mentioned that the Super Besse may not be the toughest climb. What does mean? The first 7.4 km average 5.7%. The final 1.5km are at 10% average gradient. Not tough? Races are always as tough as the racers make it and we are looking forward to today's finale!

13:55 CEST    57km/138.5km to go
Thanks to all who participated in the guessing contest yesterday. And congratulations to Patrick Sungwook Chang for winning yesterday. We don't have a contest today, but stay tuned for the next chance to win a prize at Cyclingnews.

Chavanel, Bichot and Vaugrenard have now a gap of 4'50. It is not growing as quickly as the first few stages. Of course the sprinters were left out one and almost didn't make it yesterday, when French Champ Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) was only caught metres from the line. Those who after today's stage win apparently don't want to let the break go too far ahead.

The view the riders have to obey in the neutral start zone.
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

14:01 CEST   
The start this morning was given under sunny skies. The distinct jerseys always get the honour of rolling out first. One who needed it this morning was polka dot jersey Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom). He stayed very very close to Christian Prudhomme's car and when the red (superb) Skoda accelerated at km 0. Voeckler was right in its slip stream. Prudhomme hadn't even gotten his flag down all the way to signal the start. This sparked the move of the day, even though Voeckler was not in it in the end.

14:04 CEST   
Stefan Schumacher said after his time trial victory he likes the short, small climbs. Sort of the Amstel Gold race, that he won in 2006. Today's finish climb is longer, but we saw that only the last 1.5km are at 10%. Schumacher may have a hard time slipping off the front with his bright yellow, but he may do well enough to defend it today.

14:14 CEST    70km/125.5km to go
Over the first climb of the day, Chavanel passes ahead of Vaugrenard and Bichot. This gives the Frenchman – wait, we mean Chavanel – 3 points. His total is now 14 and he is within five of Voeckler. The first jersey is at stake today. Bummer for Voeckler to not be in the break. He must have not paid enough attention when Chavanel slipped away. Either that or he didn't have the legs.

Current race situation

  • Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux)
  • Peloton at 4.55

14:27 CEST   
What are the mountain points given out today? For the cat 4 climbs (there are a total of 26 in this year's Tour), it is 3-2-1 for the first three. For a cat 2, the first six get points: 10-9-8-7-6-5. Sounds easy? Well, for cat 2, cat 1 and hors catégorie (HC) climbs the points will double if they happen to be the stage finish – exactly what we have today in Super Besse. So the winner gets 20, then it is 18-16-14-12-10 for the others. So nothing lost yet for Voeckler if he can get even with Chavanel before the stage finish!

14:29 CEST    83km/112.5km to go
The gap is slowly coming back down now, as the peloton stretches its legs. Less than five minutes.

Nicole Vogondy is very distinct today. He wears the French Champ jersey AND a red number, which he earned as being the most aggressive rider yesterday.

14:35 CEST    87.5km/108km to go
The weather is pretty good again today. It is sunny, though there are clouds that occasionally get in the way. The temperatures are good. The break is still working very well together. They are now approaching the Côte de Crocq, a cat 4 climb.

14:36 CEST   
Vaugrenard leads as they approach the climb. 300 more metres.

14:38 CEST    89.5km/106km to go
Lots of people out in Crocq. Of course, the French riders let Chavanel pass ahead over the top.

The peloton is led by Gerolsteiner, with the entire Silence team lined up behind.

14:39 CEST   
We neglected to mention that one rider didn't start today. Aurélien Passeron (Saunier Duval-Scott) finished yesterday, but was still shaken by a collision with a spectator! The peloton is often underestimated by the public, especially in a finale like yesterday, when the peloton storms by faster than the speed limits!

14:41 CEST   
Bichot was second and Vaugrenard third.

It means that Chavanel is within two points of Voeckler.

Prince Albert sticks his head out of car number 1 and has a look at the peloton. He sees the bunch pass the top a good four minutes after the leaders.

Valverde crashed yesterday. Will it affect his chances in today's finale?
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

14:43 CEST   
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) crashed yesterday, but was in good spirits today. "I slept well. Normally, today would be a good day for me to attack. But I have to see after the crash." The Spaniard added that the first week went well for him.

14:51 CEST   
Thanks to Emilien for providing clarification on Abdu's adventure on Super Besse, where the rider from Taschkent didn't win in 1996. He was in a breakaway with Orlando Rodrigues (Banesto), Luc Leblanc (Polti), Richard Virenque (Festina) and Paolo Savoldelli (Risotto). It was Rolf Sorensen (Rabobank) who took the win.

14:53 CEST    98.5km/97km to go
The gap has increased again, now more than five minutes, after it had dropped to 4'12 at the KOM.

Current race situation

  • Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux)
  • Peloton at 5.10

14:55 CEST   
Chavanel couldn't always go in the breaks he wanted. "It's the Tour and you can't always do what you want." It is true, one has to be lucky sometimes to get in a break. Voeckler tried today from kilometre 0, but didn't make it.

Chavanel on the other hand felt like he had more than just one option, which is comforting. "My form is good. A col like today, I can climb with the best. Therefore, today, there are two possibilities for me. Either be in the break or stay with the favourites." Well, he chose the aggressive version

15:01 CEST   
We are entering the department of Puy de Dome. On the climb of the same name, it was Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor who literally rubbed shoulders. Anquetil was spent but managed to make Poulidor think everything was all right. Eventually, Poulidor dropped Anquetil, but it was too little too late.

Poulidor simply said he had done all he could, but others have questioned if he was lacking confidence to attack earlier. Might as well, if Poulidor would have won the Tour one year, not many would be talking about him today!!!

15:03 CEST    105.5km/90km to go
Gerolsteiner has accelerated again at the front, which means the gap is going back down. It is now four and a half minutes.

The German team leads the bunch under a bicycle that was hung across the street. The French know how to celebrate their three-week party!

15:05 CEST   
Some farmers have built a gigantic heart out of straw bales. The cows are trapped inside, but at least they won't be starving to death.

The flamme rouge and by then the steepest part has started and the battle will be in full swing
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

15:09 CEST   
Yellow jersey Stefan Schumacher was relaxed at the start. He confirmed one thing. "It is the dream of every cyclist to wear yellow in the Tour and it came true for me."

Schumacher wasn't sure if he could defend the jersey but made one thing clear. "I will give it 100%. Then, at the finish, we will see. Whatever happens happens." His lead is a slim 12-second margin and a powerful rider like Kirchen could gain this time. But Schumacher can hold his own, so it should be an exciting finish.

15:14 CEST    111.5km/84km to go
The break enters the feed zone! What a time of tension in this Tour. Well, the three will be OK, but the peloton will have some tense moments again. Chavanel grabs his bag without problems. He takes out the bottles and puts them in the bottle cages. Then all the sports bars go in the back pocket.

15:15 CEST   
He throws the empty musette right where some kinds are standing. What a souvenir!

15:16 CEST   
The peloton is also in the feed zone, now only three and a half minutes behind. The Agritubel soigneur finds his riders. It is very skillfully how he hands out four, five musettes in a span of 15 seconds, as 'his' riders are coming by.

15:18 CEST   
CRASH in the feed zone! It is no surprise really. It is a windy day and Florent Brard (Cofidis) got a musette stuck in his front wheel.

15:18 CEST   
David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) is hanging back a bit. he doesn't want to get involved in any tangles.

15:20 CEST   
Brard was in the break yesterday. He is OK and is up and standing. But his derailleur is totaled. He grabs a new bike and chases after the bunch, which has slowed a bit after getting the food bags.

15:21 CEST   
The drink of choice for the Germans is Coca Cola. We see Jens Voigt and Fabian Wegmann downing one.

15:22 CEST    116.5km/79km to go
The gap is holding steady for the moment, three and a half minutes. Gerolsteiner is leading the charge. Every Gerolsteiner is at the front - except Schumacher!

15:23 CEST   
Aha, Garcia was at the back because he also crashed in the feed zone. He is now hanging on to the car of Gerard Portet, who is the Tour's doc on (four) wheels. Garcia gets treatment on his right leg.

15:25 CEST   
Gerald Ciolek has a flat. While the mechanic changes the wheel, the German stretches a bit.

Cadel Evans also with a flat!!!

15:26 CEST    119.5km/76km to go
Evans is quickly back on the bike. But he needs to stop again. He signals to the team car. Something is still wrong.

15:26 CEST   
It starts to drizzle!

15:28 CEST   
We see Andy Schleck and Alejandro Valverde near the front. Gerolsteiner has switched from single file to taking the whole road. Schumacher is still not near the front.

Evans is hanging on to his team car and his bike gets some quick treatment. It seems to be a problem with the gearing system, but all is fine now. Of course, his team-mates have dropped back immediately.

15:32 CEST   
The drizzle changes to rain. Bummer for the riders, who can still see some sun on the horizon.

Evans is back in, but has to stop again.

Now he is riding back again. Oh, Evans almost rides into a team car. Then he gets mad at a gendarme on his motor, who is not riding as far to the left as the Aussie wants. He gives him a little push, then turns around and points to his glasses (making a gesture saying that the motor guy should look out where he is going.

Evans is probably a bit ticked off with his mechanical, too.

15:34 CEST   
Ah, there is Schumacher. He has put on a sleeve-less west. A little tap on one of his team-mate's shoulders and the team knows he is back.

Haussler is leading the charge. He crashed yesterday, but is OK. He was initially left out of the Tour, but Oliver Zaugg became sick and had to stay home. That opened the door for Haussler.

15:37 CEST   
We are passing a very scenic area with rolling hills, some lakes and patches of forest. Prime farmland and very green at that.

The rain, which is responsible for all the green around here, has stopped for now. There are some very black clouds all around, but it looks good to stay reasonably dry (apart from the road, which is of course very wet).

Schumacher enjoys the day in yellow
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:39 CEST    127.5km/68km to go
Vaugrenard is doing most of the work on the front. Bichot the least, Chavanel is in-between.

Schumacher has taken off the vest again. He puts something inside his jersey to protect from the wind. It looks like baking paper.

15:42 CEST   
There are a few folks out here on the side of the road. An older man has a blanket wrapped around him, staying warm. For the moment it is not too bad, though. Well, for the peloton. The break has pedaled into the next shower.

15:44 CEST   
Valverde is bandaged up on his right knee and right arm. Those damn feed zones!

15:47 CEST   
Voeckler had two scenarios, like Chavanel. "I hope to be at the front. If not, I hope there aren't too many. Then I hope to be in the top six of the stage." Well, his early attack didn't work, but he there are only a few riders up front. Of course, Voeckler will not be happy that one of them is Chavanel, who is now within two points of the KOM jersey.

Voeckler was otherwise happy. "I am satisfied with the race so far. I had a little cold, but all is well now."

15:49 CEST    133.5km/62km to go
Gerolsteiner and Caisse are leading the peloton, single file. The gap is very slowly coming down. It is still above three minutes.

15:51 CEST   
Brard (Cofidis), who was delayed with the crash because of getting a musette stuck in the front wheel, was paced back by Didier Rous. Rous is the DS for rival team Bouygues Telecom. The DS of Cofidis appreciated the fairness!

15:54 CEST   
Aha, for those who were missing the cows in the first few days: The weather was mostly bad and the cows weren't following the Tour from the side of the road. They were kept dry and close to our live ticker. But expect more cow sightings in the next few days - especially in the Pyrenees, where the animals are a bit tougher and can withstand some rain!

15:57 CEST    140.5km/55km to go
The peloton has definitely picked up the pace an the gap is down to two and a half minutes. Cancellara, with his number 13 pinned upside down again, is taking Andy Schleck back to the front.

And just to be complete here: The peloton passes a few cows, who wait on the left hand side of the road.

This is the view the riders will see, although it may be not as sunny
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Current race situation

  • Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux)
  • Peloton at 2'35

16:00 CEST   
The rolling road, the accelerating peloton, the break which is getting tired - it leads to a drop to 2'17 now. Can Voeckler get back to the leaders to get some more points? 15km before the KOM. But Bouygues is not pulling.

16:02 CEST   
It is all Gerolsteiner, and they of course don't care if the break stays away over the next climb. The pace is definitely good now. For now, the gap holds steady, as the leaders pass through La Bourbon. There are a lot of people out!

16:07 CEST    144.5km/51km to go
The people have some cardboard that look like clover. It is the sprint here after all. They don't have the large green hands that brought down Hushovd a couple of years ago. But this doesn't look much safer. However, the break is not sprinting for it, so it is fine. Vaugrenard, who is still doing most of the pulling, gets to pass ahead of Bichot and Chavanel.

16:07 CEST   
We see a bunch of kids inside the line out of a giant yellow jersey on a lawn. A bunch? Some 600 kids in yellow jersey are participating!

16:09 CEST    147.5km/48km to go
Some of the riders on the back are David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Laurent Lefèvere (Bouygues Telecom), Jimmy Engoulvent (Crédit Agricole) and Gert Steegmans (Quick Step).

We also see Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), who is reading what looks like today's profile. Robbie will find out that there won't be a bunch sprint today!

The gap is at 2'06.

16:11 CEST   
Ok, fair enough: we should explain abbreviations before using them. A DS is a directeur sportif. It is the French term for the sports director in the team car. Giving out water, advise and also staffed with a mechanic in the car, in case of punctures.

16:12 CEST    149.5km/46km to go
The sun has come out!!!

Bichot smiles accordingly. Or is it because he loves the sports bar that he is currently munching on.

The climb has started. Eight km to the top! The gap down to less than two minutes.

16:15 CEST    151.5km/44km to go
Chavanel accelerates! Seven to go to the top of the Col de la Croix-Moran. The leaders pass a clothe line with all the jerseys lined up!

16:17 CEST   
Marty Maaskant (Garmin Chipotle - H30) and Magnus Backstedt (Garmin Chipotle - H30) are near the back. They have the bright yellow numbers that mark the best team

The bunch takes a sharp left hairpin in town. The sun has brought back the spirits to the public, which is enjoying the spectacle.

16:18 CEST   
Vaugrenard is dropped from the front group, while a Crédit Agricole rider attacks on the front! Thew action starts.

16:19 CEST    153.5km/42km to go
There is some money involved for the top two over the cat 2 climbs. 500 and 250 euro.

The attacker of the peloton is Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole)

16:21 CEST   
Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) is dropping back. He has done his work for the day.

Big acceleration now! Several Euskaltel riders are off. Maxime Monfort as well.

16:23 CEST   
Cavendish is the next to lose contact to the peloton.
Three more km to the top and the gap down to a minute and a half.

Pauriol is still ahead of the peloton, while the Euskaltel move has been brought back now.

16:25 CEST    156.5km/39km to go
Chavanel does all the pulling. Well he wants to get his polka dot!

Pauriol passes Vaugrenard, but both are swallowed by the field.

Many are now getting dropped. Caisse is taking over at the front from Gerolsteiner.

16:26 CEST   
1.6km to the top for the duo. They still have 1'30, so will make it. But the polka dot won't be decided until Super Besse.

16:26 CEST   
Hushovd is in the second group and may lose his green jersey.

16:27 CEST   
In fact all four jerseys are so close they could change today! What an exciting finish here in France!

Less than one km to the top now.

16:28 CEST   
Lots of campers on the side of the road. Surprise! It seems Voeckler has a bit of problems.

16:28 CEST   
The top here is pretty bare. Lots of wind from the right, which helps keeping those French flags up that are waving in big numbers here.

16:29 CEST   
Bichot is taking a good pull now, helping out his compatriot. They have 1'10 and are very close to the top.

16:29 CEST   
Voila, Chavanel passes the top in front and gets 10 points.

16:30 CEST   
The win d is so strong that there are echelons on the front on the uphill.

16:30 CEST   
Voeckler goes on the right hand side of the road!

16:31 CEST   
Sandy Casar goes after him! Battle royale up here.

16:31 CEST   
Voeckler can defend himself and zips up his jersey as he crosses the top, 54 secs after the leaders.

He kept checking for Casar.

16:32 CEST   
Both Chavanel and Voeckler have now 27 points in the mountains classification!

16:33 CEST   
Maxime Monfort (Cofidis) told Gregor Brown: "I will follow Cadel Evans. I want to go as far as possible in the classification battle – to see my limits.

"I won't attack. The main objective is to follow the best on general classification. Evans is the top rider for the Tour de France; follow his wheel and you can have a good classification – top ten or top five.

"It is my first Tour de France. I am here to learn."

16:34 CEST    163.5km/32km to go
Voeckler took the descent full speed and apparently wants to get to the front as soon as possible.

16:35 CEST   
Voeckler is in a group of three, but the peloton is getting back to them.

16:38 CEST   
The peloton takes the road that looks like a noose and follows it counter clock wise in a wide turn. It looks beautiful from the blimp. We also enjoy that the sun is definitely back. All the favourites are still in the front bunch, which is still very large. Only the helpers and the large sprinters are part of the autobus now.

16:40 CEST   
Silence-Lotto and Quick Step Directors agreed that there will be small gaps today and everyone will be waiting for the Pyrénées. It is "a transitional stage."

Gerolsteiner is protecting the GC lead of Stefan Schumacher. "The plan is to protect the GC," said its directors. "We are happy with three or four guys in the escape. Everything will happen in the last two climbs."

The team will be watching everyone, specifically George Hincapie, Alejandro Valverde and Kim Kirchen. "The climb is not so heavy, but long."

Yesterday the directors explained not to let the escapees' gap go over seven minutes and today that gap was supposed to be around three to four minutes.

Fabian Wegmann, Bernhard Kohl and Markus Fothen are looking after Schumacher in the finale.

Current race situation

  • Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel)
  • Peloton at 0.47
  • Group with Hushovd at 3.48

16:40 CEST   
The group of the green jersey Hushovd is almost four minutes back

16:42 CEST    170.5km/25km to go
Bichot accelerates! Chavanel has to dig deep to get back, but he manages and passes Bichot to be the first rider to reach the 25km to go banner.

16:44 CEST    172.5km/23km to go
Caisse leads the charge through Murol, where again many have come out. Nicolas Portal is doing a lot of work on the front for the Spanish team. Which is why the gap is dropping to half a minute. They two share the work equally.

16:46 CEST   
We are hovering over the Puy de Dome right now. The riders will be glad to leave out this volcanic climb. well, maybe some would wish that it would be used today, actually.

16:46 CEST   
Bichot attacks!

16:47 CEST   
He drops Chavanel. The latter seems to have gotten advise from his DS to sit up.

16:49 CEST    175.5km/20km to go
Van Londersele, the directeur sportif (DS) of Cofidis just confirmed that he told Chavanel to not go all out. He is now back in the peloton. Bichot increases the gap again. Chavanel needs to save his strength so he can counter Voeckler for the KOM points and the polka dot jersey.

Current race situation

  • Freddy Bichot (Agritubel)
  • Peloton at 0.24
  • Group with Hushovd at 3.48

16:51 CEST   
Scott Sunderland, the DS of CSC, told Cyclingnews that "We're going to try and keep Cancellara up there for as long as possible but a lot will depend on how he feels on the climb. It's not too long so we're hopeful he can pull through."

What if someone attacks? "Well that's different. We don't need to be that aggressive today, so we'll see how things play out. Frank, Andy and Carlos are all capable of doing something and riding hard or attacking if they need to."

16:52 CEST    178.5km/17km to go
Bichot is still ahead, but the peloton can still see him. One rider has shot out of the peloton and is in-between. But the bunch is only 15 secs back now.

16:54 CEST    179.5km/16km to go
We don't know where Cancellara is for the moment. He seemed to be at the very end of the main bunch a few km ago. But we haven't seen him since.

The bunch has ended the descent and safely makes the sharp right onto the main road.

16:55 CEST   
Alexandre Botcharov (Crédit Agricole) is the one on the Chase patate (check out our Tour lexicon for that one). He is 12 secs behind Bichot. The bunch is now 20 secs back.

16:56 CEST    180.5km/15km to go
Bichot is one man possessed out there. Still 20 secs! However, the attacking is over for Botcharov

16:57 CEST   
Bichot now looks like a man who was out there all day. Soon they have gobbled him up. Caisse is still leading.

16:57 CEST   
Bichot is sitting up. Game over. But chapeau for a great race.

16:58 CEST    182.5km/13km to go
Caisse is passing the Agritubel rider now. 13km to go, nine of them uphill. Let the finale begin!

16:59 CEST   
Everybody is at the front. Well, all the favourites anyway. Menchov is looking concentrated and not saying anything. Which is pretty much what he does off the bike too. Will it be the day for the quiet Russian?

17:00 CEST    184.5km/11km to go
Bumm! There goes a bottle to the right. Smack on a wind shield of a parked car! Hopefully it was empty. The glass at least has withstood the impact.

17:01 CEST   
Crash in the field! French Champ Vogondy goes down. Also Erik Zabel.

17:02 CEST   
Vogondy passes José Vicente Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne), who has done his work.

On the front, Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) attacks with Amaël Moinard (Cofidis)!

17:03 CEST    185.5km/10km to go
Day over for Vogondy, who chats to a team-mate. He will lose his red number. It is likely to go over to Chavanel for being the most aggressive rider of the day.

17:04 CEST   
One more km to the beginning of the real climb, but it is already slightly uphill here.

17:05 CEST    186.5km/9km to go
Zabel is back in the peloton. Amazing, he had the desire to get back to the bunch after his mishap.

Current race situation

  • Amaël Moinard (Cofidis) and Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 0.10
  • Group with Hushovd at ?

17:07 CEST   
Another attack in the main peloton! It is by Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole). He takes an AG2R with him, but the peloton is close.

17:08 CEST   
One by one riders get gapped at the back. Two Liquigas are going backwards.

17:08 CEST   
One of them was Pozzato.

17:09 CEST    189km/6.5km to go
Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) takes the front! He leaves the others behind. The two leaders have been passed by Efimkin and Le Mevel

17:10 CEST    189.5km/6km to go
Now it is David Moncoutié (Cofidis) who gives it a go and tries to get a win for France.

17:11 CEST   
Chavanel is going out the back! Moncoutié is closing in on Efimkin. The noise of the spectators should be encouraging him a bit!

17:11 CEST   

Current race situation

  • Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) and David Moncoutié (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 0.10
  • Group with Hushovd at ?

17:12 CEST   
Five to go. There is still a slight head wind. Moncoutié reaches Efimkin. The two have 12 secs on the bunch led by Caisse.

17:13 CEST    190.5km/5km to go
A Garmin goes. Looks like Cobo behind him.

17:14 CEST   
Moncoutié gets dropped. Vande Velde is the Garmin rider. Three on the front now.

17:15 CEST   
It is actually Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott), who is together with Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Chipotle - H30)

17:17 CEST    191.5km/4km to go
Columbia is helping on the front. 20 secs of a lead. Voigt is getting dropped as well as Voeckler. Who will get polka dot tonight?

17:17 CEST    192.5km/3km to go
The front duo has still a 20-sec gap. Will Vande Velde get a win today??? They pass the 3km to go sign.

17:18 CEST   
Definitely windy out there. There is a small downhill now. Vande Velde leads Piepoli.

17:19 CEST   
They go through a roundabout, Piepoli takes over. Vande Velde checks back. Oh, watch the road there. Phew, he avoided getting too far right. All is well.

17:19 CEST    194km/1.5km to go
The barriers have started. The steep section, too. 10% average now!

17:20 CEST   
The wind comes from the right. But here comes the peloton.

17:20 CEST   
Moreau is dropped.

17:20 CEST   
The lead duo is caught.

17:21 CEST   
Caisse leads through the flamme rouge. No Sastre or Schleck?

17:21 CEST   
Evans, Valv, Riccò and Kirchen are there

17:22 CEST   
Frank Schleck still there. But Cunego is getting dropped.

17:22 CEST   
Frank seems to be in the second group actually. Sastre is with the front guys.

17:22 CEST   

17:22 CEST   
Schumacher is down

17:23 CEST   
Frank Schleck is there, he attacks

17:23 CEST   
Riccò counters. Valverde starts his sprint

17:23 CEST   
Evans is sitting on the back

17:24 CEST   
Valverde tries hard to get around but Riccò looks strong.

17:24 CEST   
And Riccò takes it!

17:24 CEST   
Valverde can't get around and gets second

17:25 CEST   
Evans gets home in third.

17:26 CEST   
There is a small gap. Frank Schleck is fourth and Kirchen fifth

17:26 CEST   
Kirchen takes over the yellow jersey!

17:28 CEST   
Riccò empties a bottle of water.

Schumacher said he touched the wheel of Kirchen. He sounded disappointed, but that's life. What a bad way to lose the jersey though.

17:29 CEST   
Andy Schleck lost close to a minute. Chavanel comes in four minutes later

17:30 CEST   
Chavanel looks grim. But he is told he has the polka dot. And he is told he is allowed to smile now. He agrees!

17:34 CEST   
Schumacher crashed when the action started and everybody wanted get into a good position. By moving over to the barriers on the right, Kirchen crossed wheels with Schumacher. Schumacher said that "He surely didn't do that intentionally."

Schumacher should know, he got the final Eneco overall a couple of years ago when Hincapie crashed in the sprint after Schumacher had to swerve to avoid a spectator.

17:37 CEST   
Phew, that got a bit hectic there in the end. Schumacher looked to easily defend his jersey (there are not time bonuses). But the crash changed that. Kirchen would have liked to take over the lead in a different manner.

The polka dot changes to Chavanel. The green will go to Kirchen also. We will have to wait for the young rider classification for the moment.

17:41 CEST   
Riccò stands atop the podium, next to the impressive figure of Bernard Hinault, who makes sure no protesters are coming anywhere close.

Next up is Kim Kirchen to receive the jersey. And of course the shake hands with the local celebrities and politicians.

The autobus comes in, 17'47 behind.

17:53 CEST   
A happy Riccò exclaimed after the stage: "Today was a great win. I beat a great champion." Riccò didn't want to go as far as comparing himself to Pantani. "Pantani is unique. He won the Tour and the Giro. I have not, but I hope to get better over time." He also discounted ambitions for the podium in Paris. "I just want to gain experience." His tip for the overall was for the man he beat today. "I think Valverde can win the Tour."

17:55 CEST   
Ok, that's it for today's coverage. Thanks for joining us and we hope you are back tomorrow for more mountains. Still only cat 2's at most, as we continue through the Massif Central, but as we have seen today there are plenty of jerseys to exchange bodys.

A demain.

Provisional results

1 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott         4.57.52 (39.38 km/h)
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    0.01
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto                         
4 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC - Saxo Bank              0.04
5 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia                           
6 Moises Dueñas Nevado (Spa) Barloworld                 0.07
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas                            
8 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC - Saxo Bank           
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                              
10 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott                   

General classification after stage 6
1 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia                                  24.30.41
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto                                    0.06
3 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                 0.16
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30             0.44
5 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30                      0.47
6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia                                  0.54
7 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                         1.03
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                   1.12
9 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step                                          
10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                           

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