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95th Tour de France - Stage 6 Live
By Staff
Date: 7/10/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 6 Live

95th Tour de France - Stage 6 Live
Into the mountains... another French trio leads the peloton by 4 minutes on its way to the summit finish on the Super Besse.

Stage 6 Aigurande - Super-Besse Sancy, 195 km
Welcome to our live coverage of stage six we join the race in progress at after 70 kilometers of racing. Once again we have French riders on the march with Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Fredy Bichot (Agritubel) and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) with a gap of 4:40 at the moment, slightly down from the 5 minutes they had ten kilometers earlier. Aurelien Passeron (SDV) didn't start due to his injuries from a  crash yesterday.

Cofidis' Sylvain Chavanel led through Chateleus -Malvaelix for the first intermediate sprint followed by Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) and Freddy Bichot (AGR). The second round of points in Cressat, 44.5km were taken came in the reverse order of the first, led by Bichot, Vaugrenard and then Chavanel perhaps this is a sign of the solidarity of the three French escapees.

 © Amaury Sport Organization 

The cooperation continued with the group working well over the first climb Côte de L'Armelle led by Chavanel, then Vaugrenard and Bichot. All three are very aggressive riders so its not a surprise to see they elected to take a flyer to day. Vaugrenard and Chavanel are both former French Champions while Chavanel is also the current French TT Champion. Bichot is a former winner of the Etoile de Besseges which he won after a long break in stage 1.

107 km to go - gap 4:12, They are now 1 km of the top of the Côte de Crocq, 89km (4th Category)
Gerolsteiner is leading the pace in front of the bunch. Chavanel takes the points on the Crocq ahead of Bichot and Vaugrenard. Chavanel is now 2 points down on Voeckler in the KOM ranking. if Chavanel takes points on the penultimate climb he will be the new polka dot wearer today.

Behind the Gerolsteiners the Silence-Lotto team of Cadel Evans with sprinter Robbie McEwen doing his part escorting his leader near the front.

100 km to go while the gap is up to 4.40 again. For the sixth day in a row we have French riders in the break. For Chavanel it's his second time after his break with Voeckler in stage two. Agritubel and FDJ have a rider in the break again too. Yesterday it was Jegou for FDJ and Vogondy for Agritubel. Without the domestic riders attacks we may have had less than exciting and open stages.

The riders are now in the area of the Puy de Dome, the historic and famous mountain from the past. We also have some transfer news again: Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) is rumored to go to Rabobank next year. Tjallingii joined Lotto at the beginning of the season coming from Skil-Shimano. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has prolonged his contract with the Dutch team for two more years.

Tour Portrait: Bernard Hinault, Cycling legend, multiple tour de France winner and the emcee of the podium ceremonies at the start and finish of each stage. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1507 CEST - The gap climbs to 5.10 again, but we still have 95 km to Super-Besse and two climbs to go. with 90 km ahead.  The three, Vaugrenard, Bichot and Chavanel have 4.19 on the bunch. Gerolsteiner gets the help of a few Silence-Lotto guys on the front.

The peloton looks like it has learned its lesson finally to control the gap when you have ambitious French lads up the road. In about 40-45 km we will get to the next climb the Col de la Croix-Morand, 2nd category followed by the final climb up the Super-Besse. Until the Col de la Croix-Morand we will likely have the same situation as now, with some in the peloton wanting to keep a tight leash on our talented trio up front.

Typically in a climbers stage like this a break might be given a longer leash, but a combination of the talent in the break and our parcours require caution. Although the Super Besse (an 11km climb, averaging 4.7%) will not be as decisive as the Alpine peaks. The fifth and six kilometres are the steepest, with a gradient of 8.4%, before becoming 4.1% for the finish, which isn’t particularly steep; then again after 190 kilometers in the legs it might feel much steeper.

1613 CEST - The gap is down to 3.50 with 85 km to go. The road is a constant slight uphill to the next climb... a constant slow torture to lungs and legs. Yesterdays stage winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia) sits on at the back of the pack. His Tour has been perfect so far and a good motivation for the Olympic Madison together with his team mate Brad Wiggins.

Crash in the bunch in the feeding zone. It's David Lopez Garcia from Caisse D'Epargne, looks to be no harm done and he is up and riding again. And as quickly as that is said another rider, Florent Brard hits the pavement; Brard was one of the riders in the break yesterday. His musette got caught in his wheel, luckily the Cofidis rider is up and riding . 

80 km to go and the gap dips down to 3.20. Chavanel is the best ranked rider 29th at 2.10. The others:
Benoît Vaugrenard  Française des Jeux in 56th at 3.48 and Freddy Bichot of Agritubel 131st at 7.59. It might be some consolation to Chavanel that he is the virtual leader on the road, but I can't see that the group will meet with success. I'd love to see one of the riders in the group prove me wrong on that.

Pre race Erik Zabel drops by the Powerbar booth. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Good news for Gerolsteiner. According to due to the teams recent success and yellow jersey of Stefan Schumacher and his stage win the team has more hope in finding a new sponsor. Some potential sponsors have contacted manager Hans-Michael Holczer to join the sport in 2009. But nothing has been signed yet....

It has started to rain at the Tour now, all caution to the riders... you don't have our permission to crash. Rubber down lads. Riders are putting on their rain gear as 5 Gerolsteiner riders drive the pace at the front.

Cadel Evans has had a mechanical and is now being brought back by his team mates. He just made a not so friendly gesture to a French police men on a moto who made a move forcing the driver of the team Columbia car to stomp on his breaks. Evans was riding behind the Columbia car at the moment so in the worst case Evans could have flown through the back window of the car and that would have been the end of his tour... but luckily that was avoided.

1538 CEST - 70 km to go the gap 3.22. The brave trio up front have increased their pace in the rain. Schumacher sits up and puts a wind break cloth under his jersey. Schumy is looking comfortable in the maillot jaune. Alejandro Valverde his leg and arm are covered with a bandages. Valverde took a spill  yesterday but it looks worse than it is.

We should mention two new articles of interest: John Summerson the DP's mountain expert is back with comparable climbs in the US to those in this years tour. So if you can't make a trip to France to test your legs on the climbs there you might find a few here to suffer on and add to your palmares. We also have a Race Program & Index that has all the 2008 Tour de France articles for easy reference, the program will be updated as we continue the tour. Both articles are linked below. Included on the page are the Program/Index pages for the recent Criterium Dauphine Libere, Tour de Suisse and Giro d'Italia.

Pre start Riccardo Ricco is surrounded by journalist for interviews.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Gerolsteiner is still controlling the pace. The gap holds at  3.20... not much happening in the stage at this point, we may have to wait until Super-Besse for some attacks. We expect CSC, especially Fränk Schleck to attack and get some time back for his G.C. hopes. Il Cobra - Riccardo Ricco is in the same boat with Schleck so we expect the Saunier Duval rider to weigh in today also.

60 km to go, the gap falls to 3:00. Eight Gerolsteiners are at the front as they pump up the tempo. The gap is further down to 2.20 with 55 km to go. Gerolsteiner is still leading the pace with 3/4 guys. Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Fredy Bichot (Agritubel) and Sylvain Chavanel continue their attack looking very determined.

1605 CEST - It has stopped raining as the riders are heading towards the Cat 2, Col de la Croix-Morand. Vaugrenard wins the final intermediate sprint ahead of Bichot and Chavanel. The top of the Col de la Croix-Morand is at 37 km before the finish. so in a few km they will enter the first slopes of this climb in the central massif. The Trio up front have really upped their effort and are moving very fast, behind the peloton is mostly out of the saddle as the road tilts upward... we still have a compact gruppo in the chase, that won't last too long when the gravity kicks in.

1614 CEST - The gap of Sylvain Chavanel, Freddy Bichot and Benoit Vaugrenard is down to 1.55 with 46 km to go. The break is now on the Col de la Croix-Morand. The climb is about 8/9 km long in distance. the bunch follows on the Col de la Croix-Morand as well. we don't expect any attacks in the bunch on this climb.

Our live coverage of Stage 6 continues in Part 2

Stage 6 Profile - Final 11 kilometers

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