Lotto-Belisol's Andre Greipel led home a messy sprint finish to claim victory on Stage 6 of the 2014 Tour de France after another wet and windy day in the saddle.
A lumpy final 20 kilometers into Reims left many of the sprinters' teams short-handed, and a series of eight roundabouts made it even more tricky to establish a train to guide home their key men.
Here's a look at the results for Stage 6:
|2014 Tour de France Stage 6 Results|
In the mayhem, German Greipel came through late to take his first victory of the Tour after fellow German sprinter—and three-time stage winner—Marcel Kittel suffered a flat tyre just before the flamme rouge.
The 194-km stage from Arras to Reims was peppered with crashes, and after losing defending champion Chris Froome on Wednesday, Team Sky lost Spanish rider Xabier Zandio today.
The new leader of the British team is Richie Porte and the Australian is fully focused on the task in hand, as he told Peter Scrivener of BBC Sport:
Losing Chris was not nice but that is cycling and the sun still came up this morning. I have an opportunity now. It's a big one and I want to grab it with both hands. I'm looking forward to it. I'm flying under the radar a bit which is fine. I'm in good form and looking forward to hitting the mountains.
Green-jersey leader Peter Sagan also crashed and bruised his left side. The Cannondale rider had to go back to the medical car for treatment, which hit his hopes of winning today's stage.
However, the Slovak fought his way back to the front and eventually finished fifth, which is a solid result considering the circumstances.
|2014 Tour de France Points Classification (Green Jersey)|
|1||Peter Sagan||Cannondale||217 pts|
|2||Bryan Coquard||Eruopcar||137 pts|
|3||Marcel Kittel||Giant-Shimano||135 pts|
|4||Alexander Kristoff||Katusha||117 pts|
|5||Andre Greipel||Lotto||91 pts|
The day’s early breakaway—that went straight from the gun—of Bretagne-Seche's Arnaud Gerard, Jerome Pineau of the IAM team, Belkin's Tom Leezer and Cofidis' Luis Angel Mate was caught with around 17 kilometres to go.
Although, Spain's Mate hung on out the front, hoping to claim the day's combativity award.
Dutchman Leezer took the 20 points on offer at the intermediate sprint in Pinon, 119 kilometres into Stage 6, followed by Gerard and Pineau.
|2014 Tour de France Overall Leaderboard (Yellow Jersey)|
|1||Vincenzo Nibali||Astana||24h 38' 25''|
|2||Jakob Fuglsang||Astana||24h 38' 27''||+ 00' 02''|
|3||Peter Sagan||Cannondale||24h 39' 09''||+ 00' 44''|
|4||Michal Kwiatowski||O.Ph-Q-Step||24h 39' 15''||+ 00' 50''|
|5||Fabian Cancellara||Trek||24h 39' 42''||+ 01' 17''|
|6||Jurgen Van Den Broeck||Lotto-Belisol||24h 40' 10''||+ 01' 45''|
|7||Tony Gallopin||Lotto-Belisol||24h 40' 10''||+ 01' 45''|
|8||Richie Porte||Sky||24h 40' 19''||+ 01' 54''|
|9||Andrew Talansky||Garmin-Sharp||24h 40' 30''||+ 02' 05''|
|10||Alejandro Valverde||Movistar||24h 40' 36''||+ 02' 11''|
When the peloton arrived it was Mark Renshaw, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate of Stage 1 crash victim Mark Cavendish, who took the remaining 11 points, ahead of Sagan and Lotto-Belisol's Greipel.
Meanwhile, Cofidis rider Cyril Lemoine retained his lead in the King of the Mountains competition, with only two fourth-category climbs on the stage—each worth one point—that were snaffled up by the break.
Another exciting slate of action is set for Stage 7, and based on the challenging conditions we've seen thus far, the next stage promises not to disappoint.
With two Category 4 climbs within the last 23 kilometres of the finish in Nancy, it should suit a puncheur like Sagan rather than an out-and-out sprinter like Greipel. One of the overall contenders, such as leader Vincenzo Nibali, might also use it to try to steal a few seconds on their rivals.