Many would have expected to see a complacent peloton in today’s stage 6 after yesterday’s brutal stage, but after struggling to make an impression in the early sprint stages, Andre Greipel has come out of hiding with a win on the flat, windswept sixth stage from Arras to Reims.
Crosswinds threatened to tear the race apart inside the final 70km, but the efforts of Omega Pharma-QuickStep at the front of the field never amounted to much. When the last of the breakaway riders was caught with about 11km to go, crosswinds split the peloton, with the second group finishing nearly a minute down. None of the major GC contenders lost time on their overall position.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) put in a hard attack in the final kilometre but there was no hesitation from the sprinters teams to quickly reel him back a couple hundred meters later. Andre Greipel sprinted to the front and was never passed. Three-time stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)
had a puncture in the closing kilometres was caught out by the crosswinds* and wasn’t able to return to the front in time to contest the sprint.
Vincenzo Nibali finished safely in the bunch and will wear yellow again tomorrow.
* Initial reports suggested Kittel had suffered a puncture. We now know that’s not true.