Cav repeats but brawl & a knockout draws news!!
The 6th Stage of the TdF was from Montargis to Gueugnon a distance of 227.5km the longest stage at this year’s TdF. With this stage being the last of the flats before the climbs of Alps, it was left to the sprinter teams to finish off the stage, while the GC riders tried to keep up & finish without any eventualities. Mark “Manx Missile” Cavendish once again came to the party with the fastest legs & repeated his Stage 5 performance to win, but the no holds barred fist fight between 2 riders & the knock down of Robbie McEwen after the race also gathered attention.
Montargis with a population of almost 16,000 is becoming a part of the Tour for the 4th time. The town is just one hour south of Paris. With the Briare, Loing & Orleans canals joining up thereabouts and with its typical canals and the many bridges this town has earned its nickname of the “Venice of the Gâtinais”.
The finish town of Gueugnon with a population of almost 10,000 is joining the Tour for the first time. One of the Towns claim to fame among sports fans is for its football team, “les Forgerons” (the Blacksmiths) with the club’s players owing their nickname to the famous ironworks that brought wealth to the town once upon a time. The famous Forges are now the site of the Ugine factory, a member of the Arcelor-Mittal group, the world leader in the stainless steel market.
The stage began at Montargis with all 188 riders, the first day after the beginning of this year’s TdF that no rider pulled out overnight. The race route for this stage was one with four Categorized climbs & three intermediate sprints spread over the course.
Just like in the previous five days the breakaway was formed early on and the peleton just allowed them to go away till the very end. Today’s break had Mathieu Perget of Caisse d’Epargne along with Sebastian Lang of OmegaPharma Lotto & Perez Moreno of Euskaltel – Euskadi.
HTC-Columbia deployed four riders in the front of the peleton soon enough. But it was mainly Bert Grabsch of HTC who finally churned away the pedals to bring in the peleton to a position of catching the breakaway. Team Saxo Bank’s Stuart O’Grady also shared the role for a long time. But here the script changes from it everyday routine, for from the peleton with 25km still to go for the finish two riders – Dimitri Champion of Ag2r & Anthony Charteau of Bbox Telecom team jumped and attacked the breakaway and joined them. Perget went one step ahead & tried to solo away like Ivan Gutierrez yesterday but was caught by the other four and with 5km to go their escape story was over.
As the race neared the end, the news of the wind shifting from a headwind to a sidewind trickled down to the teams and soon Contador, Armstrong & Schleck were seen herded to the front in the safety of their respective teams, just to ensure that none of them got caught out.
As the race reached the last 3km, Lampre team which had readied its lead out train for Ale Jet, was swamped by the Garmin-Transitions train who were setting up the stage for Tyler Farrer (still racing with a broken writs &bandaged elbow!!). This ensured a thrilling finish to the race as the momentum of the race was peaking and so was the speed. In the final stretch it was the Garmin riders who started the sprint, but the best deliveryman in the business Mark Renshaw was right there with the fastest man on the earth on bikes Mark Cavendish in his slip stream. With around 230m to go, the Manx Missile burst through reducing Farrer & Ale Jet to just shadows on the road. Green jersey of Thor Hushovd finished 10th while Robbie McEwen once again finished fourth!!
The frantic pace upfront ensured a break in the peleton & the first 14 riders were awarded the same time as the stage winner. Cancellara finished 41st, in a group that was three seconds behind Cavendish.
Cancellara has now worn the Yellow jersey for a 21 days – the full duration of the Tour, over the last 3 years, and when this was mentioned to him stated that “Of course, it’s not bad at all but it’s not the same as if I won the Tour de France because it’s something a bit different. Of course, I’ll be very proud if I can have the yellow jersey for one more day. If not, I won’t be sad.”
If yesterday was tears & hugs day for the Manx Missile, today was smiles & a determination to say all what he wanted to!! Cav after the win said,“It was incredible to win today, you’re not going to shut me up – I’ve got a lot of talking to do and I missed out on saying all of what I wanted to yesterday. Special mention to a couple of guys on my team, Maxime Monfort (who by the way became a father yesterday) and Bert Grabsch, we had to give Kanstantsin a rest today because he’s got work to do in the mountains for Mick Rogers. It was a long, hard slog for our guys but they rode incredibly well. I just followed Mark [Renshaw] as usual and it was just a case of finishing off the incredible work that my team-mates did. We’re a team and I’m just a part of what functions like a great machine. Yeah, I’m just the guy who crosses the line with my hands in the air… but that’s the goal of cycling, to display the logo sponsors.”
At the end of Stage 6 the over all race results remain the same with Fabian Cancellara of Team Saxo Bank in the Yellow & Thor Hushovd in the Green jersey. Geraint Thomas of Team Sky continues in the White jersey, Jerome Pineau of Quick Step in the Polka dotted King of the Mountain jersey and so also does Team Saxo Bank who continue as the best team in the race.
As soon as the race got over two incidents happened – first Robbie McEwen found a technician walking into his bike unaware that he was sprinting in at 60km per hour!! The result was, McEwen got thrown off the bike & landed hard on his back. Already patched up after the crashes from the earlier stages this was a bit too much for McEwen who after getting up went around looking for the intruder. (Luckily he had disappeared by then..:) ) McEwen was taken to the hospital & seems all set to start the stage tomorrow.
The second incident was when Rui Costa of Caisse d’Epargne was attacked by Carlos Barredo of Quick Step with his front wheel. A few blows where exchanged & though Costa did defend himself by snatching the wheel away from Barredo’s hand he did elbow the Quick Step rider who was seen bleeding from his nose before being separated. The Tour organizers took a lenient view of the whole thing as the incident had occurred after the race & not during the race. So both riders were fined 400 Swiss Francs each for the ‘insults, threats and incorrect behavior’. Later in the day the Quick Step rider called Costa & apologized for his behavior, but claimed that he was provoked to do so b’coz Costa had elbowed him in the duration of the race today.
Watch these two video links and see for yourself how the brawl started!!
The Tour de France will take in the first real mountains of the 2010 Grand Boucle in tomorrow’s Stage 7, which finishes at the ski resort of La Rousses in the Jura Mountains. Pineau who is leading the climbing classification said, “I’ll try to slip into the escape tomorrow, but I know it will be a lottery.” Most of the GC riders team will try & send someone strong to attack & open up gaps just to check the form of other riders. But its early days for anyone to crack though I can safely say that the Yellow Jersey will change hands tomorrow. Will Geraint Thomas of Sky get a chance to wear the yellow jersey??
So till tomorrow ….
This is a guest post by Mr.Q, a professional quizmaster and an ardent Tour de France fan who is reporting his 2nd full tour. You can reach him at email@example.com