Tour de France 2013: Stage six as it happened

Andre Greipel beats Mark Cavendish into fourth to win stage six from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier

5 July 2013 Last updated at 09:10

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As it happened

  1. 1700: 

    Today's report is up and running, while BBC Radio 5 live's podcast will be soon. Thanks for all the texts and tweets today, I'll be back on Friday for stage seven - a lumpy-bumpy 205.5km race from Montpellier to Albi. Will the sprinters get over the hills and have one more shot at glory before the race hits the Pyrenees mountains? Join me from 11:15 BST and you never know, I might just chuck another picture quiz your way.

  2. 1654: 

    Just before I go - British race favourite Chris Froome finished snugly in the peloton and remains seventh overall, just eight seconds off the pace. His main rivals Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans are both handily placed too - expect to hear their names more this coming weekend when we hit the mountains.

  3. 1647: 

    And that seems like a decent place to sign off for the day. It wasn't to be for Cavendish but he'll have other days to try and notch up his 25th stage win - the fact he was even in that sprint for the line shows the fighting qualities of the Manx Missile. Congratulations to Greipel who has now won five Tour stages.

  4. 1645:  
    Yellow Jersey, Classification

    Want a few words from the yellow jersey? Here's Daryl Impey: "If you'd ever told me I'd get to experience this I'd tell you you were lying. This is a big day for South African and African cycling. Simon got in the jersey because he won stage three but it's been in my reach and seeing him lead me out today shows what a great rider he is. He could easily have sat on the wheel and kept the yellow. I was the last man to lead out for Matt Goss and that left me in a good spot."

  5. 1640:  
    Yellow Jersey, Classification

    General classification standings after stage six:

    1. Daryl Impey (SA/Orica GreenEdge) 22:18:17"

    2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Team Sky) +3"

    3. Simon Gerrans (Aus/Orica GreenEdge) +5"

    4. Michael Albasini (Swi/Orica GreenEdge)

    5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma - Quickstep) +6"

  6. 1639:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    Green points jersey standings after stage six:

    1. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) 159

    2. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto) 130

    3. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma - Quickstep) 119

    4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) 111

    5. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Argos Shimano) 87

  7. 1633: 

    Stage six result:

    1. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto Belisol) 3:59:02"

    2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) SAME TIME

    3. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Argos Shimano)

    4. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma - Quickstep)

    5. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa/Euskaltel)

  8. 1631:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    I'll do a proper run down of the points and standings shortly, but for now, here's a quick look at the green points jersey classification. Peter Sagan leads on 159, with Greipel up to second 130 and Cavendish third on 119.

  9.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Alex Gilmore: Looking forward to Cav's post-race interviews. OPQS did not help him get back after crash and only 1 man at end to help. Poor.

  10. 1628: 

    Here's a few words from our winner Andre Greipel: "I told the guys to wait as long as possible and we hit the front with 2km to go and showed we have some horsepower in the team. I'm proud of the team, they always support and believe in me."

  11. 1625:  
    Yellow Jersey, Classification

    It would appear as though Gerrans lost a few seconds in the run-in to his Orica GreenEdge team-mate Impey, who becomes the first South African, and indeed African, to wear the maillot jaune.

  12. 1622:  
    Yellow Jersey, ClassificationCHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    DARYL IMPEY TAKES YELLOW JERSEY

  13.  

    The big German had time to raise his arms in celebration as he crossed the line a bike length ahead of Peter Sagan in second. Marcel Kittel slipped past Cavendish in the closing metres to take third.

  14. 1620:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "You can't take that away from Greipel - he was always going to win at least one. The crash certainly knocked the top end off of Cavendish's sprint."

  15. 1619: 
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    ANDRE GREIPEL WINS STAGE SIX OF THE 2013 TOUR DE FRANCE.

  16. 1618: 

    Cavendish and Sagan are tracking Greipel as we come into the final 500m.

  17. 1618: 

    The yellow jersey of Gerrans is right up near the front. Lotto take over on the front as we go under the Flamme Rouge. Cavendish a long way back - has he got the legs...

  18. 1617: 

    Argos Shimano take up the pace as the race enters the final 3km, racing for Marcel Kittel. But Greipel and Cavendish are lurking just behind with their own lead-out trains. 2km left.

  19.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Steve in Atherstone, via text on 81111: Re Tom in London. It generally takes a rider 6 months to a year to fully condition (weight change etc) for a switch between track and road cycling at a top level. Yes my post regarding Farah and Bolt is an exaggeration, but it still wouldn't be that close. Cav was a pursuit rider on the track because he had more endurance and less raw pace than Hoy, Hoy would have won when he was a track rider and by a bigger margin now.

  20. 1614: 

    Lotto are trying to squeeze up the inside of OPQS - keen, of course, to put the Gorilla Greipel in prime spot. Lampre are coming up through the middle, while Orica GreenEdge and Cannondale are all in there as well. Everyone trying to keep up at the front and keep their main riders out of trouble. 4km to go.

  21. 1612: 
    OUCH!

    The blood is dripping down Brajkovic's face - he's got a nasty graze on his chin. But we don't have time to focus on him. There is just 6km remaining in today's stage. OPQS are pushing the pace down the left-hand side of the road. Saxo-Tinkoff in the middle, next to BMC with Cannondale hogging the right.

  22. 1610: 

    Brazkovic finished ninth last year but his GC hopes have been dented by that spill. He's back on his bike and pedalling gingerly the 10km or so to the finish. The peloton is 8km from the line and the sprinters teams are organising themselves up front.

  23. 1607: 
    OUCH!

    There is still not a cloud in the sky as the peloton goes either side of a roundabout. Always something pleasing about watching the camera shot from the helicopter as the riders glide along. Cavendish is barking orders at his team-mates and there's a spill at the back of the peloton. Brajkovic of the Astana team is caught up and he's just sitting on the road, a few feet from his mangled bike. He's got a gash on his elbow and he's not going anywhere quickly.

  24. 1603:  
    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    Stat attack on the radio commentary. Cavendish is one of only six riders to win a stage on six different Tours de France. And every time he's won one, he's gone on to win at least three. "He's turning into a decent rider," opines Hayles.

  25.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Tom in London, via text on 81111: RE Steve in Atherstone, the Bolt/Farah comparison does Cav an injustice. You're forgetting he has a track background too. While he might not have quite the same power as Hoy over a short distance, he is a unique and special sprinter and I think it'd be closer than you suggest.

  26. 1601: 

    There's a cross tailwind helping blow the riders to the finish. The pace is quickening and the Team Sky train is controlling the pace. Just 16km to go and Rob Hayles estimates that they're going along at around 30-35mph.

  27.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Cavendish's fiance Peta Todd: Hate hearing whilst out on the school run that the boy went down... good ride by Peter Velits to get back. Come on opqscyclingteam

  28. 1557: 

    Simon Brotherton is reporting that the wind is not as bad as had been forecast, which is good news for the riders, not so great for us watching. I don't know about you but I want splits in the peloton to spice up the racing. Don't think it's going to happen now though. Just 20km remaining and Belkin on the front of the peloton, with Team Sky and BMC Racing alongside.

  29.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Steve in Atherstone, via text on 81111: RE Rich Francis. Hoy by a long way. Though he would have been dropped by the peloton even on a flat stage by now. You're asking who would win in a sprint between Usain Bolt and Mo Farah. Just because Farah has a much better sprint finish than his competitors doesn't mean he can outsprint Bolt.

  30.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Alistair Mattock: Hoy by a golden mile (see 1532). Hoy is a power athlete and Cav an endurance athlete with a great kick.

    Tony McDonagh: This is why we love Cavendish. He will still be there fighting at the line. True champion

    Chloe Green: Haven't heard too much of Schleck, any updates? Kept a hold of him in my fantasy team, holding out hope he'll make an impact.

    Andy will be keeping his head down until we get into the mountains this weekend.

  31. 1549:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "He's got to compose himself. Relax, stay calm, put it the back of his mind and get on with the closing 26km."

  32. 1548: 

    Finally OPQS have got a rider back to Cavendish to help him. Peter Velits is pacing him and here he comes up the main bunch. That's a big effort by Cav but it will have taken a lot of him Will he have the energy for the final sprint? Stay tuned folks...

  33. 1547: 
    THAT'S INCREDIBLE!

    He is being watched closely by race officials who won't want to see him drafting and he's taking massive risks to try and get back on to the peloton. He's more than 30 seconds down on the main bunch and there's just 30km to go and he's gone and bunny-hopped over a roundabout to avoid hitting the Euskaltel team car.

  34. 1545: 
    OUCH!

    The pace of the peloton has been knocked off a bit. Details of this crash are sketchy but I'm guessing there may well be riders from several teams who were caught up in the spill. Shots of Cavendish, he's slipstreaming his OPQS car - he's got some scuff marks on his left shoulder so he's defintely been down.

  35. 1542: 
    OUCH!

    There has been a crash and Cavendish is off the back of the peloton. It looks like he may have been caught up in it - I'm yet to see exactly what happened.

  36. 1540: 

    Here's Sylvain Chavanel taking a water bottle from his team car. General consensus is that he got fined yesterday for doing this incorrectly - by holding onto the bottle for too long while his crew member was also holding it and thus allowing him to be towed along.

    Sylvain Chavanel
  37.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Andrew Reed: I'm hoping to climb Ventoux and Alpe d'Huez the day before or after the tour goes up...anyone know if thats possible?

    Alex Gilmore: Good on Sagan for not wearing the horrible green shorts. Not a fan of the polka dot and yellow shorts either. Far more classy w/o.

    Rich Francis: Who'd win a short sprint, on a straight road with no wind etc. Cavendish or Hoy?

  38. 1532: 

    Ahh...here we go, the spanner is out and there's some tinkering with Sagan's bike. He's still got a bit of catch-up to do. 42km to the finish and Orica GreenEdge leading the way.

  39. 1531: 

    Sagan doesn't look happy with something on his bike and is back at the team car having a natter with his boss. Could it be the brakes? Whatever needs doing, needs doing sharpish because the pace on the front of the peloton is high and they won't hang around for the Slovakian.

  40. 1530:  
    BBC Radio 5 live sports extraLIVE NOW

    It's 15:30 and that means it's time for a bit of Simon Brotherton and the boys out in France. Listen to live commentary of the closing stages of today's race on BBC 5 live Sports Extra.

  41. 1526: 

    Peter Sagan stops for a new set of wheels - not the whole bike, just new wheels. Are they to help him in the sprint finish? He's got a bit of work to do to get back to the peloton but he has three Cannondale team-mates pacing him through the support cars. 46km to Montpellier.

  42.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Doug, via text on 81111 (see 15:07): But I will write a book. :) and I did own up.

    Tom in Salisbury, via text on 81111: Longest successful solo break since the war was Albert Bourlon in 1947, with 252km solo. More recently, Thierry Marie had a successful solo break of 234km in 1991. Also worth a mention of Brit Brian Robinson, who once won a stage in a solo break by over 20 minutes ahead of the second placed rider.

    Matthew Wood: Incidentally, Bradley Wiggins nearly topped the list. Led for 190.5km of 199km alone for Cofidis, Stage 6, 2007. Good effort. #bbctdf

  43. 1520: 

    Leducq, who rode in nine Tours de France, won the 1930 and 1932 editions. Cavendish is riding in his seventh. He'll never win the race but in 2011 he became the first British winner of the green points jersey.

    Andre Leducq
  44. 1516: 

    It's difficult to argue against it. Cavendish has 24 stage wins and if he can mop up today, he will move into joint third on the list of most stage winners. That is led by Tour legend Eddy Merckx with 34, while French favourite Bernard Hinault has 28. Cav will join Andre Leducq on 25 with his next victory.

  45. 1514:  
    BBC Radio 5 live

    Just over 15 minutes until the BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra commentary sparks into life. Just long enough then to read the thoughts of Graham Jones and Simon Brotherton on Mark Cavendish's sprinting prowess. Is Cavendish the best sprinter in the history of the Tour de France?

  46. 1511: 

    The racers are still together and are 60km from the finish in Montpellier. Team Sky and Orica GreenEdge still dragging the peloton along. I'm checking out the roadside bushes and trees and there doesn't appear to be much wind about at the moment.

  47. 1510:  
    Matt Slater, BBC sports news reporter

    I can't find anybody here who doesn't think this will end in a bunch sprint, and nearly everybody thinks it will be won by Mark Cavendish. I do, too. He won on this day last year for Team Sky, and in Montpellier for HTC in 2011. He also looked unbeatable in Marseille yesterday. But Peter Sagan is due a win - two seconds and a third, so far - and Andre Greipel cannot be ignored. Not with a nickname like The Gorilla. Have I mentioned how hot it is?

  48. 1509:  
    Matt Slater, BBC sports news reporter

    Greetings from the car park of the Stade Yves du Manoir (OK, sports fans, who plays here?), which has become the TV compound and base camp of the sixth stage of the Tour de France. My word it's hot here. Looks pretty sticky out on the road, too. Luckily, it's slightly downhill today, although they can hardly freewheel it, and they have a tailwind now.

  49. 1507: 

    And Doug, yes you Doug - you're off the Tour. I said no cheating.

  50.  
    GET INVOLVED

    And here's a bit more on that tale from Ed, via text on 81111: That must be the saddle of Javier 'Purito' 'J-Rod' Rodriguez. Firstly because he just fell off his bike, allowing some sly dog to get a picture of his saddle, secondly because purito is Spanish for cigar. Rodriguez acquired this nickname because he used to ghost past competitors on climbs and mime smoking a cigar in their faces - such was the ease with which he would do it. He stopped doing this when his teammates actually made him smoke one at the end of a race and he was violently sick.

  51. 1505: 

    Rodriguez's nickname is Spanish for little cigar and was given to him in his first year as a professional cyclist in 2001 - when some of his team-mates upped the pace on a training climb, he rode past them making a gesture with his hand that he was smoking a cigar, indicating he was still taking it easy.

  52. 1500: 

    ...congrats to (and this is a long list, so apologies now if I miss you out) TerrencePhillips, TIm Radcliffe, Anthony Grimley, Guy McGerr, Cat, Peter Swann, Jon Nelmes, Jamie Monk in Phuket, Alan Newman, Alexander, Ben Hedley on twitter. And from the texts...Stefan, Gavin, Fraser, Tom and Seth. It is, of course El Purito - Joaquim Rodriguez.

  53.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Steve Cunningham: It's a long shot, but is it Marcel Kittel's saddle, if not then the Gorilla Griepel's?

    Daniel Warner: Has to be Cippolini?

    Chairman Drummond: I'd love to win that saddle (Lars Boom), but I know it would get nicked from my bike in seconds in London.

    And the winner is...

  54. 1456: 

    Back on the road and Team Sky are back up at the front of the peloton, alongside the Orica GreenEdge boys. And there is the G man. Good ol' Geraint Thomas is up at the front of the peloton. He's going to do a Q&A with us for his next column on the BBC Sport website on Monday's rest day If you haven't already fired a question over, please do so. We can't use them all, otherwise we'd be stretching into Tuesday, so make it good.

  55.  
    GET INVOLVED

    GreedyBaster: With that colour scheme on the cigar, surely must be German. Greipel?

    Alan Cook: Is it Boris Johnson's saddle?

    Dan Cater: Lars Boom's saddle? Good to see Geraint heading up the peloton - psychological boost if nothing else.

    Jason from High Wycombe, via text on 81111: Lars Boom of course. Silly.

    Only six minutes to wait - excited?

  56. 1449: 

    The pace has slackened off somewhat in the peloton, albeit after they whizzed through the feed zone at more than 60km/h! The poor soigneurs, who hand out the food bags (or musettes if you prefer) were almost getting their arms ripped off as the riders tried to grab hold. So a truce has been called and the domestiques are nipping back to the team cars and doling out the goodies.

  57. 1447:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    So Cavendish is 31 points adrift and with 45 on offer for the stage win, he could overhaul Sagan. For that to happen, the Manx Missile has to win and the Slovakian would have to finish 10th or lower.

  58. 1444:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    A couple of you asking for the green points jersey standings after today's intermediate sprint. Happy to oblige...

    1. Peter Sagan 124 points

    2. Mark Cavendish 93

    3. Alexander Kristoff 91

    4. Andre Greipel 85

    5. Edvald Boasson Hagen 58

  59. 1441: 

    Thank you Stephen Glenn on Twitter - my comment about Nacer Bouhanni being the French road race champion (14:11) is indeed 11 days out of date. I omitted the numbers 2012. The 2013 French champion is, of course, Arthur Vichot.

  60.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Andrew via text on 81111: Is it unkind to suggest that the saddle belongs to Bouhanni, given his well-documented stomach problems?

    James, via text on 81111: Mark Cavendish

  61.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Matt Worrall: Is it Peter Sagan? (see 14:29)

  62. 1436: 
    OUCH!

    And it's au revoir Bouhanni. He's finally climbed off and been helped in his team's car. The poor bloke doesn't look like he knows where he is. We are down to 192 riders. Team Sky have moved to the front of the peloton, probably looking at the controlling the race as they enter the windy zone. 88km remaining and everyone still all together on the road.

  63.  
    GET INVOLVED

    In response to Ben's question at 14:17...

    Matthew Wood: Depends upon the distance of 'solo' breakaway. The most famous (probably) is Cedric Vasseur- 147km, Stage 5, 1997. His first pro win.

    David Locke: The longest breakaway solo win I can think of was Andy Schleck on the Col du Galibier in 2011. With an incredible chase by C Evans.

  64. 1429: 

    Anyone want a quick competition? Whose saddle is this? Text your answers to 81111 or tweet #bbctdf. No cheating now. Answer at 15:00 BST...

    Saddle
  65. 1426: 

    The broom wagon (see B is for broom wagon) is lurking ominously closely to Bouhanni. The Frenchman is doing his utmost to keep pedalling but it looks like it's only a matter of time.

  66. 1423: 

    Bouhanni is struggling a bit here. He's more than two minutes behind the leaders and rather helpfully, the TV cameras are getting up close and personal with him. He's pulling all sorts of faces and shaking his head as he rides alongside his FDJ team car. And to rub it in, the official Tour de France website has him listed as a 'straggler' right now. I wonder if he's looking forward to the feed station?

  67.  
    GET INVOLVED

    MCK in London, via text on 81111: Geraint Thomas is setting the injury bar very high for future riders. The team bosses will only allow someone to quit if a limb has fallen off.

    From Andrea in Surrey (who *very* frustratingly just picked up a knee injury & had to pull out of the Etape on Sunday last minute :-( Although after reading what injuries some of these guys are riding with I feel like a right wimp!!) Re the post at 1304 - I had some metalwork inserted into my collarbone last year after a horror crash & had been wondering what would happen if I crashed again with it.....I think the answer after reading that is, best not to crash to avoid finding out!

    Ben in London, via text on 81111: When was the last successful solo breakaway to your knowledge? Are they even possible in the "unassisted" era of cycling?

    Can anyone help? I don't have time to trawl the record books for some reason...

  68. 1417: 

    And just to add to Simon's tweet - you can listen to the commentary via this very webpage - I'll post the link a little closer to the time.

  69.   
    Simon Brotherton, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

    On Twitter: Today's Live TDF offering from 15.30 BST on @BBC5LSX with me & @robhayles1 includes M Cavendish & R Porte who spoke with Rob at the Depart.

  70. 1413:  
    Polkadot Jersey, Classification

    Team Sky's Kanstantsin Siutsou was first over the top. One point for the Belarussian in the King of the Mountains standings. Classification leader Rolland kept himself to himself in the peloton. And after a brief descent, Orica GreenEdge, with race leader Simon Gerrans in their midst, assume their position on the front of the bunch.

  71. 1411: 

    The television pictures are concentrating quite heavily on France's national road race champion, Nacer Bouhanni, who is off the back of the peloton and in among the team cars. He's got a bit of a dicky tummy from all accounts. He is a sprinter by trade and was never going to fare too well on the hill but he is a long way back. The crowds are giving him a terrific cheer though as he crests the summit of the hill.

  72. 1407:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    Intermediate sprint result:

    1. Greipel (LTB) 20pts

    2. Cavendish (OPQ) 17pts

    3. Kristoff (KAT) 15pts

    4. Sagan (CAN) 13pts

    5. Steegmans (OPQ) 11pts

    6. Flecha (VCD) 10pts

    7. Sabatini (CAN) 9pts

    8. Kwiatkowski (OPQ) 8pts

    9. Chavanel (OPQ) 7pts

    10. D. Van Poppel (VCD) 6pts

    11. Velits (OPQ) 5pts

    12. Brookwalter (BMC) 4pts

    13. Tuft (OGE) 3pts

    14. Burghardt (BMC) 2pts

    15. Lancaster (OGE) 1pt

  73. 1406: 

    That all felt ever-so-slightly underwhelming. Perhaps it's the heat and the wind and the sprinters want to save a bit for the finish. Anyway, onwards we pedal and here comes that climb, the Col de la Vayede, and looking at it in the flesh, it may be a little more testing than I thought. It's got a few twists and turns.

  74. 1402:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    The German, nicknamed the Gorilla, holds off a surging Cavendish to take the maximum 20 points on offer. Cavendish gets 17 in second place. Sagan was fourth and picks up 13 points.

  75. 1400:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    Andre Greipel wins the intermediate sprint.

  76. 1358:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    Here we go then. Sprint time. OPQS and Andre Greipel's Lotto Belisol team are vying for the front position in the peloton, while Sagan's Cannondale team are hard to miss in their lime green outfits. 1km to the sprint line...

  77.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Alex Gilmore: Chavanel was littering. Riders meant to keep rubbish till zones. People go round after to zones to pick up. He got rid outside zone.

    Chaz Sizeland: A quick google seems to suggest Chavanel took a 'sticky bottle' yesterday (hitched a ride with the team car whilst having a drink).

    Matthew Wood: Normal rules on nutrition and hydration have indeed been suspended today. Sensible, it's hot. Can refuel anywhere up to last 15km.

  78. 1353: 

    It is a gorgeous day in southern France (I'm hoping it continues because I'm off camping near Montpellier the week after the Tour finishes), with barely a wisp of a cloud in the sky. I could do with a wind graphic though because reports are suggesting that there is a 40km/h crosswind. I cannot stress enough how big a factor the wind could be today. 5km to the sprint.

  79. 1349:  
    Polkadot Jersey, Classification

    I think we can probably also expect Pierre Rolland - the currently leader of the King of the Mountains classification and decked out in the best-looking jersey in the peloton - to have a wee go at claiming the solitary point on offer for the first rider to crest the summit.

  80. 1348:  
    Polkadot Jersey, Classification

    A closer inspection of the category four hill (the easiest of the categorised climbs) shows that it is only 700m long with an average 7% gradient. The pace that some of the sprinters reach in the intermediate battle mean they will probably be able to freewheel up half of it.

  81. 1345: 

    The riders content to pootle along in the peloton as the intermediate sprint edges closer. Expect fireworks for a couple of kilometres and the fast men of the peloton to instantly slip back as the only categorised climb of the stage follows.

  82.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jamie Middleton: Poor Luis Mate. Must be one of the most depressing feelings in sport, being slowly but inevitably caught by the peloton.

    Ben Wroblewski: Sorry but what did Chavanel actually do?

    I'm not sure - anyone any ideas? #bbctdf

    Conor Morgan: There are two possible outcomes today. Cavendish crashes or Cavendish wins!

  83. 1337:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    With 20 points up for grabs for the first over the line in the intermediate sprint, Omega Pharma (OPQS) will be keen to control the peloton for their main sprinter Cavendish as he continues his quest to wrestle the green points jersey off the back of Peter Sagan. Germany's Andre Greipel has been doing well in the intermediate sprints though and also has his eye on the bigger prize.

  84. 1335: 

    Mate drops back into the peloton - his maximum advantage was five minutes, 30 seconds but without the help of any other riders, he was never going to make it all the way on his own. An Omega Pharma - Quickstep rider has moved to the front of the race, keeping the pace high, presumably to try and ward off any more attacks.

  85. 1333: 

    The Orica GreenEdge team of race leader Simon Gerrans is pulling the peloton along and this is all coming back together in time for the intermediate sprint, which is coming up at the 63km mark, or in around 20km.

  86.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Sam Dowers in Felixstowe, via text on 81111: Hi, at what stage can we expect to see the genuine yellow jersey contenders making their way to the top of the general standings?

    Hi Sam - when the race enters more mountainous terrain, the sprinters will quickly drop away and the yellow jersey guys will make themselves known - Saturday is the first proper day in the mountains.

  87. 1326: 

    Hundreds of schoolkids screaming encouragement at Mate, who briefly climbs out of saddle but his lonesome time out front is quickly coming to an end and he knows it, flashing a smile or two at the camera. He is now just two minutes clear and I don't think it's a case of the peloton injecting some pace - more a case of he just ain't got the legs.

  88.  
    GET INVOLVED

    From Sam in Wales, via text on 81111: Excited for today's stage, on paper it is a pancake leading up to a bunch sprint, but the weather could provide some real excitement. With weather reports if high winds, the GC and sprint teams tactics will be tested, and there will be a lot of fighting for position late on, and if a big GC contender gets it wrong, they could lose a lot of time. It is somewhat reminiscent of the legendary stage 3 in 09 where HTC cleaned up.

    Josh, via text on 81111: For me it definitely has to be Sagan, best technically through hills where Cav may struggle, I hate to say it.

    Max in London, via text on 81111: I'm going for Ed Boasson Hagen pipping Cav on the line based on yesterday's performance. Sky would love to get one over on him!

  89. 1322: 

    OK - so when I said a bit of wind...the peloton is is rolling along, three minutes and 35 seconds behind Mate and they have around 140km remaining in the stage. They currently have a tailwind of around 20km/h but all that is set to change, particularly in the last 50-60km.

  90.  
    Graham Jones, Radio 5 live sports extra co-commentator

    On Twitter: 60 to 70 km/hr winds forecast today, cross winds as well, and it's going to be hot up to 32deg. How the Tour should be! Should be good stage.

  91. 1318: 

    I mention sheltering because there is a bit of wind forecast for today. If you listen to the commentary on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra from 15:30 BST today then you will no doubt hear lots of talk about echelons. Echelons form when the riders cycle along in a diagonal formation, trying to keep out of the wind as much as possible.

  92.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Tranter: Cav to win, end of, not even up for discussion! Why you need to ask is beyond me.

    Matthew Wood: 'Eating in a way that's damaging to the image of cycling'. Sylvain Chavanel (OME) with one of the more hilarious fines yesterday.

    Hockeyvaughnfan: How about a mention too for Haimar Zubeldia who is riding today with a broken hand!! (not the best when you've got to ride a bike!)

  93. 1310: 

    Luis Mate's bid for a rare solo victory is trundling along nicely. The Spaniard is more than five minutes ahead of the main bunch, which contains all the other riders, including the likes of race favourites Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans, while Mark Cavendish and the sprinters are sheltering in the wake of their team-mates.

  94.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Pieter De Boiserie: @AndreGreipel to win for @vdb_jurgen such a shame to see him go. Really thought he would make the podium this year!

    Matthew Wood: Cav compared today's stage to La Grand Motte, Stage 3 2009, where he won. High winds extremely likely, echelon carnage possible.

    Phil: It's simple. If Cav gets space to sprint for the line then he cannot be beaten. Others will have to hope he gets bunched out. #bbctdf

  95. 1304: 

    Garmin sporting directory Charly Wegelius: Christian has plates in his collarbone from previous injuries. After the crash, an ultrasound and x-ray show a blood clot in a neck muscle (left sternocleidomastoid) and a loosened screw in his clavicle plate. From what we can tell, it is possible that the screw may have jabbed a muscle. Preliminary x-rays do not show a fracture but it probably flexed a bit in the crash and disrupted a screw."

  96. 1303: 
    OUCH!

    Hesjedal's Garmin Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters confirmed yesterday that the Canadian is riding with a fractured rib, which he injured in a spill on stage one. Meanwhile, fellow Garmin rider Christian Vande Velde was also in the wars - if you're a touch squeamish, or eating your lunch, I'd avoid the next entry...

  97. 1258: 
    OUCH!

    AG2R rider Maxime Bouet is also out after fracturing his arm in the same crash. So, of the 198 riders who started the race, we are down to 193. Britain's Geraint Thomas, he with the fractured pelvis, lest you forget, is still riding, as is Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro d'Italia champion, who hit the tarmac in the crash at 15km on Wednesday.

  98. 1255: 
    OUCH!

    The crash with 15km to go was not the only one in yesterday's race. A big pile up inside the final 500m brought down several riders, including Lotto Belisol's big hope for the overall race win Jurgen van den Broeck. The Belgian, who finished fourth in 2010 and 2012, sustained a knee injury - team doctor Jan Mathieu explained: "This morning there was a lot of fluid in his knee. We removed 85cc out of the joint which indicates an internal injury."

  99. 1249: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Here's what race leader Simon Gerrans had to say on Twitter after yesterday's stage: Incredible feeling racing today's stage in the yellow jersey. Big thanks to the guys for working their butts off to keep me in it tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, his fellow Australian, Mick Rogers, who rode for Team Sky as one of Bradley Wiggins's key domestiques in 2012 but now rides for Alberto Contador and the Team Saxo-Tinkoff has tweeted: If anyone found my SRM box after yesterday's crash with 15km to go can you please return it! Thank you.

  100. 1246:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    Green points jersey standings:

    1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 111 points

    2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 76

    3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 76

    4. Andrei Greipel (Ger) Lotto 65

    5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky 58

    Selected others:

    6. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano 57 points

  101. 1245:  
    Green Jersey, Classification

    The race for the green points jersey is also hotting up after Cavendish's victory in Marseille. He is 35 points behind leader Peter Sagan and with 45 points on offer for victory today (plus 20 for winning the intermediate sprint) the Manxman could make serious inroads. Sagan will, of course, be defending the jersey with vigour.

  102. 1243:  
    Yellow Jersey, Classification

    As for race favourite, Chris Froome...he is just three seconds off the pace and ahead of his main rivals for the overall race win - Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans. The other Brits are well off the pace, but for them the race is not about chasing the win.

    7. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky +3"

    9. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff +9"

    12. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff +9"

    17. Daniel Martin (Ire) Garmin +17 sec

    26. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC +26sec

    90. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky +9'18"

    95. David Millar (GB) Garmin +10'25"

    146. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +26'50"

    176. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky +36'11"

    183. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +37'45"

  103. 1241:  
    Yellow Jersey, Classification

    For now though, let's do a bit of housekeeping. Here's how the top five in the overall standings is looking:

    1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica 18 hours, 19 minutes, 15 seconds

    2. Daryl Impey (SA) Orica SAME TIME

    3. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica

    4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step +1"

    5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step SAME TIME

  104. 1239: 
    GET INVOLVED

    So, can anyone stop Cavendish from winning his 25th Tour de France stage today? It looks to be set up for another Cav v Andre Greipel v Marcel Kittel v Peter Sagan dash for the line. Who is your money on? You know the drill by now. Tweet me #bbctdf or text on 81111. Please remember to put your name on your texts otherwise I can't use them. And if you have any questions on the racing, fire them in and I'll do my best to answer them.

  105. 1235: 

    And the sharp ones among you will no doubt have noticed that today is also the fourth of July. Farrar is not around this year and I doubt whether we will see any Americans contesting today's sprint finish, simply because there aren't any pure sprinters in the race.

  106. 1230: 

    Cavendish beat Tyler Farrar to the line a couple of years ago - earlier in that race Farrar won his first Tour de France stage, becoming the first American to win a stage of the Tour on Independence day - the fourth of July.

  107.  

    And hot off the press, race director Prudhomme shows off his photo skills via Le Tour de France on Twitter: At the heart of the pack, just behind the car number 1. Photo by Christian Prudhomme!

    Race leader Simon Gerrans
  108. 1225: 

    Racing has just got under way in Aix-en-Provence and one rider, Spaniard Luis Mate of the Cofidis team, jumped straight out of the peloton when race director Christophe Prudhomme waved the white depart flag to signal the start of racing. Nobody has gone with Mate, who has opened up a 40-second lead. I'm going to stick my neck on the line here and say the chances of staying out there to the finish are zero.

  109. 1222: 

    The Manx Missile picked up his first stage win of this year's Tour with a trademark burst of speed in Marseille on Wednesday and the chances of him doubling up today are high. He has won at least three stages on each of the previous five Tours de France and he knows Montpellier well, having won a bunch sprint the last time the Tour was in town in 2011.

  110.  

    Le Tour de France on Twitter: Stage 6 - Aix-en-Provence / Montpellier - 176,5km: Green Jersey candidates would feast on this flat stage!

    Tour de France stage six
  111. 1218: 

    Hello and welcome to live text commentary of stage six of the 2013 Tour de France. Montpellier is the destination today as we head west through southern France from Aix-en-Provence and the largely flat terrain points to the kind of bunch sprint that Cavendish thrives on.

  112. 1215: 

    The last time the Tour de France had a stage finish in Montpellier, a certain Mark Cavendish sprinted to victory.

    Mark Cavendish (left) winning in Montpellier in 2011

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