I am going to take a minor diversion from my tongue in cheek reviews of the Tour de France stages and highlight the importance of what happened on this stage. Le Tour passed through the North of France 100 years after the First World War and through many of its battlefields. The riders in the peloton came from all over the world to ride on French soil as competitors but united as riders. And in the end, a German riding on a Belgian team won the stage on French soil. 100 years ago this would never have happened.

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Finally Le Tour has Really Started

I say this because it is the first appearance of Didi the Devil. Now I know I am watching Le Tour de France.

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Gorilla Time

In reality, after the carnage of yesterday’s stage, this was a boring affair. A futile breakaway with again Luis Mate (Cofidis) and this time Jerome Pineau (IAM) along with two others was formed. But it had no chance, with Mate and Pinot holding out the longest but being reeled back in at some 30km to go to the line. The only thing that could have livened this stage up was wind. While the wind was present, it wasn’t strong enough to affect the overall outcome of what would be a stage for the sprinters.

One little bit action was a series of tumbles on what the riders described post the stage as a very slippery bit of tarmac, potentially coated with oil. Arnaud Demare (FDJ and French national champion) went down twice, and again was not a factor in the sprints (I had him in my TDF Fantasy team but he has been traded out a long time ago). But the big news was another retirement of another stormtrooper from the empire (Team Sky) – Xabier Zandio, who are now down to seven riders before we have even hit the mountains. Tinkoff-Saxo also suffered a DNF with Jesus Alberto Hernandez Blazquez going down – so Clentador’s team is down to eight. It is very much falling the Shark’s (Nibali) way at the  moment.

Once the sprint trains fired up it was going to come down to the rockets to shine. The Omega-Pharma-Quickstep train roared into gear, but there was no Manx Missile to finish off the job. Vanilla Ice copped a puncture in the finale and his Argonaut teammate John Degenkolb is carrying a nasty tear in his butt from the mayhem of stage 5. Katusha tried to fire up for their man Kristoff as well. But the surprise was Michal Kwiatkowski launching off the front in the last kilometer dropping everybody in his wake. The sprinters had to try very hard to reel him back in, and it was my son’s favourite rider The Gorilla (Greipel – Lotto Belisol) who pipped out everyone at the line. Finally a bit of Gorilla time!

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The Cement Ladder – The Grey Jersey

Watching the toughest sportsmen in the world, I have decided to start a “cement” ranking that reflects truly great feats of endurance and the overcoming of pain (basically a bit of HTFU and a demonstration of adherence to Rule #5). Former winners include Jens Voigt (multiple times) and Johnny Hoogerland. Maybe ASO could make a special jersey, grey, for this category.

Not many points for this stage but here is how they scored.

1pts – Cheng, who rode again at the front of the peloton and has earned the nickname the “Breakaway Killer”.

1pts – Mate, for having the stones to attempt a breakaway again. Giddy up.

1pts – Kwiatkowski, for having the stones to try and put one over the sprinting peloton and nearly succeed.

 

The current table is:

6pts – The Jensie (Voigt)

5pts – Cheng, Lemoine, Boom, Kadri, and Barta

4pts – Bideau, Panzerwagen (Martin), and Fuglsang

3pts – Dumoulin, Voeckler, and Spartacus (Cancellara)

2pts – The Shark (Nibali)

1pt – Kwiatkowski, Mate, The Hornet (Horner), Froome-dog (now DNF)

 

For a more serious look at the first stage of racing check out.

Cycling NewsStage 6 Report

SBS Cycling Central – Stage 6 wrapup

VeloVoicesTour Stage 6

N.B. the photos of the racing have been sourced from Cyclingnews.com and the copyright obviously remains with the copyright holder.