04/07/13 - 12:20
Aix-en-Provence - Montpellier
Tour de France • Stage6

Aix-en-Provence - Montpellier
Tour de France - 4 July 2013

Tour de France – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 12:20 on 4 July 2013. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Yes, it's confirmed that Impey is the first African rider to take the yellow jersey - Gerrans finished three seconds down at the finish after a split in the peloton.


News that Daryl Impey has taken the yellow jersey from his Orica-GreenEdge team-mate Simon Gerrans because of stage placings at the finish.


Result: 1. Greipel, 2. Sagan, 3. Kittel, 4. Cavendish, 5. Lobato.


Andre Greipel takes the win ahead of Peter Sagan! Mark Cavendish gave it a good go, but he had to ride wide and then sat up towards the finish.


Under the banner and it's still Lotto taking it up. Sagan is on Greipel's wheel...


Now Lotto Belisol power through for Andre Greipel, with Matt Goss on his wheel.


It's a game of chess at the moment, but Argos now have six men on the front, with OPQS riding in their wheels. Lotto are there - so the teams of the big sprinters are getting prepared. The yellow jersey of Simon Gerrans is well placed - he wants to hold onto the race lead.


GreenEdge are quite a bit back, but Argos have come forward now for their men Kittel and Degenkolb. Many teams are trying to play the waiting game.


Lotto Belisol are beginning to make their presence known, with Cannondale tucked in behind BMC. Lampre are busy too.


Sky are near the front too, looking after Froome. Boasson Hagen may fancy his chances tonight - although he'll have to do it by latching on to the sprinters' trains. BMC are near the front, with Evans right there. It's a case of the GC teams wishing to keep out of trouble.


Now OPQS take it up on the front. At the back, Brajkovic cuts a sorry figure with a gash on his chin, knee and elbows.


The peloton is really strung out - those near the back have no chance on getting back now. Saxo-Tinkoff are doing a safety-first job on the front.


Brajkovic is a bit dazed. He's cut on the elbow and his knee clearly hurts. But he eventually gets back on his bike... He'll lose a lot of time today.


CRASH: A handful of riders go down, including Janez Brajkovic of Astana. The Slovenian stays down and it looks like he won't get back on his bike. Some Cofidis riders were involved too, but they were back on their way fairly quickly.


The road is so wide that two trains have formed either side - one led by Saxo-Tinkoff and the other by OPQS.


Now Omega Pharma-Quick Step have come forward to control the pace. Luckily for the peloton, the road is very wide here and there are smooth sidings as well, which means there certainly is enough space for a peloton that is clearly pretty nervous.


Belkin are on the front. They don't have anyone for the sprint - this is merely an exercise of keeping their top GC man, Bauke Mollema, out of trouble.


The Saxo Bank team of Alberto Contador have taken control of the pace and front the peloton ahead of the Sky team of Contador's big rival, Chris Froome. Mark Cavendish is right up there after that earlier scare. Cannondale, BMC, GreenEdge and Belvin are all heavily present.


Cavendish is back with the pack after that fall and subsequent chase. He'll now have to try and conserve as much energy as possible before the finish in Montpellier today. If he wins, that will be quite an accomplishment. Saxo-Tinkoff are on the front of the peloton now.


Sylvain Chavanel and Michal Kwiatkowski have come to the front of the peloton to slow the pace, while Peter Velits has gone back to help his OPQS team-mate Cavendish back on into the main pack.


Cavendish is drafting behind his OPQS car and he has lots of scuff marks on his left shoulder and arm. A few nicks too - and his radio has taken a battering. But he diesn't look too hurt. He's 35 seconds down and has Belkin's Sep Vanmarcke with him.


CRASH: Mark Cavendish was involved in that crash - and yesterday's winner is trying to ride back on. He's on a new bike and his OPQS team-mates are dropping back to help out their sprinter. Meanwhile, BMC are on the front and holding the pace.


A series of roundabouts has caused the peloton to thin out and split up. There's been a crash too, with some Belkin riders slowing because one of their men is down.


The rear of the peloton is beginning to split up a bit - and it looks like Cannondale are still back there with Sagan...


The green jersey Sagan is not happy. He keeps on looking down at his wheels and then back at his team car. He's also, with those Cannondale team-mates, still fighting to get back on the peloton. This will be a real test for the youngster. He may need a little adjustment made to his set-up.


Europcar have four near the front, including polka dot jersey Pierre Rolland. They're determined not to see their leader lose any more time after their poor showing in the TTT a couple of days ago in Nice.


Front and back wheel change for Peter Sagan who, moments before, as he was dropping back in the peloton, rode off the road and onto the verge for a few dicey moments. The Slovak sensation may have put his special sprinting tyres on, meaning he's definitely motivated for today. Not he's fighting back on with three Cannondale team-mates - if there's a split in the pack, they don't want to be caught out.


Europcar have sent two riders to the front of the pack, which is being controlled by three separate lines of riders spearheaded by the teams of (right to left) GreenEdge, Belkin and Argos.


There was a slight dispute between Sky and Movistar there, and both teams drop down a bit to let Belkin through. Argos are there too, while it's GreenEdge who drive the pace. There is a side wind, but the road is currently sheltered by some trees.


The roads are long, straight and flat here - and the sea isn't too far away. There's some salt marshes too - and many vineyards. After some big pulls on the front, Sky's Geraint Thomas is currently quite far back in the peloton.


Sky, Movistar and GreenEdge are on the front, with the Australian team setting the fast pace that will be making many riders struggle - especially after yesterday's longer stage, which was just as hot.


Swedish climber Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana) has withdrawn from the Tour. He's the second rider to retire following Bouhanni just a bit earlier in the stage.


The riders are taking the opportunity to get some liquids down and eat a bit. The pace is high, but everyone is rehydrating and sharing out snacks from their musettes. They actually missed the feed zone earlier because it came when the pace was at its highest. As a result, each team has sent someone back to their team car for food and someone else for bottles. It's all a bit improvised, but it seems to be doing the job.


The pace on the front of the pack has eased up a little. It really was pretty unsustainable earlier on. Belkin and GreenEdge are now controlling matters and the pack has bunched back up, allowing those off the back to rejoin.


The wind is pretty ferocious now and the peloton is riding really fast as a bunched group. Those at the back are really struggling. Blel Kadri was one of the riders who crashed alongside Rodriguez earlier, His Ag2R team-mate John Gadret needs a new rear wheel, as did Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil. They ride together back towards the pack.


Geraint Thomas, who is riding with a small fracture in his pelvis, drives the peloton along at the moment. It's really strung out at the back. Letour.fr is claiming that Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was involved in a crash, but is back on his bike and on his way. That was perhaps the incident that spurred this sudden rise of pace.


That's it for Nacer Bouhanni, FDJ's former French national champion calls it a day and gets off his back, clasping his left hip. He's been ill and then crashed heavily in the finale yesterday. He'll be gutted to end his debut Tour de France this way, but there was really no other option.


Numerous teams are really ramping up the pace now on the front, with Sky, Movistar, Saxom GreenEdge and Garmin all going hell for leather. There was talk of a crash further towards the back, but we've seen no evidence of that as yet. This incease in the pace won't help Bouhanni's cause a bit.


Bouhanni is now more than three minutes behind the peloton, and he has the Broom Wagon rolling along, ready to pounce, about 50m behind him.


It's pretty immaterial, but Sky's Kanstantin Siutsou crossed the summit of the last climb in pole position to pick up the solitary point in the KOM competition.


Thierry Bricaud, the directeur sportif of FDJm has just spoken to French TV about the struggling Nacer Bouhanni: "He's not going very well. The start was fairly calm because he was well supported. But since the pace has gone up, he's really started to suffer. It's a nightmare day which has just started for him. I know that he will do his best to hang on because he's a courageous chap." That may be, but he looks like he's about to cry as he downs a can of coke alongside his team car.


GreenEdge, Katusha, Saxo Bank and Sky are all prominent on the front of the pack. Alberto Contador is there in the wheel of Mick Rogers, formerly of Sky.


Nacer Bouhanni is really struggling. The Frenchman reaches the top of the climb on his own more than two minutes down on the peloton. The crowds beside the road on the climb are huge - and so he's getting a good cheer. And once at the top, his team car slows to allow him to draft on the downhill. To be fair, it's a scandel that Bouhanni is still on the race and yet Ted King of Cannondale was thrown off the other day. FDJ are breaking practically every rule in the book.


The riders are onto the Cat.4 Col de la Vayede, which has an average gradient of 7% but lasts only 700m. Sky have come to the front, with BMC and Movistar.


Eurosport spoke to Andre Greipel this morning about today's stage. "It's sad that we've lost one of our main riders in Jurgen van den Broeck, who is such a solid rider. But we must look forward. I'm sure it will be a sprint finish today and I think we have a chance. We came to Montpellier two years ago and so the finish is familiar. I'm not nervous because I have proved myself in the intermediate sprints."


Andre Greipel takes the points at the intermediate sprint ahead of Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan. The German rider from Lotto Belisol has been very convincing in the intermediate sprints - but has just not done the business so far at the business end of stages. That sprint puts Sagan up to 124pts, with Cavendish on 93pts, Kristoff on 91pts and Greipel on 85pts.


Nairo Quintana is receiving some attention from the medical car - just a bit of lotion on that cut knee of his. The intermediate sprint is coming right up - and then we'll have the only climb of the day ahead of the long and flat ride to the finish. Quintana is joined by Bouhanni off the back - the FDJ sprinter looks utterly miserable.


CRASH: It's that man Quintana of Movistar, who hits the deck after catching the kerb on a round-about. He's ok and back on his bike, but that will have ruffled his feathers a bit. Many think the Colombian can ride to a top five finish in Paris - but today he will face serious pressure in the crosswinds. He is exactly the kind of rider who could get caught out by the echelons...


The white jersey is Polish 23-year-old Michal Kwiatkowski of OPQS. He's 16 seconds ahead of Garmin's Andrew Talansky and 19 seconds clear of Nairo Quintana of Movistar.


It's a Omega Pharma-GreenEdge mulch on the front of the pack. It's an odd scenario, not having a break out in front. But with the winds that are expected, the race inside the peloton should be the main event today.


Luis Angel Mate has been caught by the peloton. The Cofidis rider went away at the outset, hoping to tempt someone else along with him, but no one was playing ball, and the Spaniard had to ride along on his own. He did have a five-minute advantage at one point, but has seen the futility in it and so took his foot off the gas.


Poor Nacer Bouhanni - the FDJ sprinter is suffering another tricky day. His Tour has been hampered by gastroenteritis and then yesterday, he was involved in that big pile up when ploughing into the back of one of the sprint lead-out men when they peeled off after the final bend. Bouhanni is currently riding off the back of the peloton and shaking his head.


WEATHER UPDATE: It's hot, hot, hot, with the thermometre drifting between 29°C and 33°C. The winds later on are expected to get up to as high as 50kmh, which would be very entertaining for us viewers. Mate is currently riding through the shade of a collonade of plane trees - he'll like that brief respite. His lead is tumbling down, mind: just two minutes at the latest check.


Pierre Rolland retained the polka dot jersey despite being caught up in that crash on the Col de la Gineste. He didn't go down hard, but both he and Europcar co-leader Thomas Voeckler did taste the tarmac. Rolland is milking the polka dots once again today, with a spotted bike on top of the full outfit and helmet. He has 10pts with Simon Clarke and Blel Kadri both on 5pts, and Thomas de Gendt on 4pts after he went on the attack yesterday.


Luis Angel Mate eats a cereal bar as he continues his lone ride on the front of the race. He has five minutes over the pack now and he's the first Cofidis rider to attack in this year's Tour de France. He'll certainly wish he had some company out there in the blazing early afternoon heat...


Sean Kelly thinks wind could be a factor today. The Eurosport TV analyst said: "The echelons will be a recipe for disaster for some of the GC riders and I can foresee some riders losing time today."


Sylvain Chavanel at the start: "Many think Cavendish is the favourite today but we're not going to be complacent. There's still a lot of work to do and we will have to be ready for the crosswinds. The objective will be to place ourselves on the front and avoid any split."


Luis Mate is 31:26 down on Simon Gerrans on GC so he's no threat to the yellow jersey. The gap continues to grow for the Spaniard - almost five minutes now.


The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team of Mark Cavendish have come to the front of the peloton to monitor the situation. They will relish the cross winds later in the day before trying to set up their man for successive wins. Cavendish likes Montpellier - he won here in 2011.


Lone escapee Luis Mate (Cofidis) now has four minutes over the peloton. It looks like the Spaniard will have to tackle those expected crosswinds later in the stage all alone...


Christien Vande Velde also crashed badly yesterday, coming down hard on the left-hand side of the road on the mini-pile up than split the peloton on the Col de la Gineste 15km from the finish. The American landed heavily, and his bike was thrown about 10m through the air. He had his ankle run over by a Cofidis rider, but more seriously he aggravated an old collarbone injury (loosening a metal screw), hurt his back and suffered a blood clot to the neck. He's in pain, but continues - for now.


Haimer Zubeldia was in the wars yesterday too. The Spaniard did not go down in either of the big crashes towards the end of the stage, but he did have a spill with German team-mate Andreas Kloden half-way through the long stage through Provence. The RadioShack veteran actually fractured a small bone in his wrist - although he completed the stage and has taken to the start today.


Spaniard Maté rides alone with about two minutes over the peloton now - he's in for a long day if he thinks he can do this alone, but no one seems crazy enough to join him just yet. You'd expect a chase group to form soon, mind.


ATTACK: Luis Angel Mate of Cofidis has soloed off the front of the peloton. No one seems too interested in joining him just yet...


C'est parti! Stage 6 of the 2013 Tour de France is under way... Objective: get to Montpellier while avoiding any crashes or splits in the peloton on a windy day in the Languedoc region of southern France.


Another rider not to start today was Frenchman Maxime Bouet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) who broke his wrist in that crash in the final straight yesterday. So we're down to 193 riders after 4 withdrawals and one disqualification (Ted King).


The riders are currently riding through the neutral zone ahead of today's stage. The sun is out and it's a hot day, with a temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. The wind isn't too bad at the moment - just 10kmh - but it is tipped to get quite blustery later closer to the coast.


The big news today is the withdrawal of Belgian GC hope Jurgen van den Broeck, who crashed heavily in that big pile-up towards the end of yesterday's stage. The Lotto Belisol rider hurt his knee and a built up of fluid inside the knee this morning suggests an internal injury, and van den Broeck was unable to get on his bike in Aix-en-Provence this morning.


Cavendish's win yesterday saw the British sprinter rise to second place in the green jersey points classification, which is still being led by Sagan. The Slovak has 111 points with Cavendish now on 76 points alongside the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff of Katusha. There will be more points up for grabs today, with the finish likely to result in a bunch sprint.


Simon Gerrans leads team-mates Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini on GC, with all three GreenEdge men level on time at the top. Sitting one second back are OPQS pair Michal Kwiatkowski and Sylvain Chavanel - and both riders may target the maillot jaune over the next few days before the Pyrenees. Sky's Chris Froome is poised in seventh place at three seconds, while Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador is six seconds further back in 12th place.


Yesterday there were no changes in the overall standings as Britain's Mark Cavendish benefited from a some superb team-work by Omega Pharma-Quick Step to win his first stage of the race - and the 24th Tour victory of his career. The Manxman comfortably soared past Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to triumph in Marseille, with Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) cutting a disconsolate figure as he came home in fourth.


Welcome to live coverage of stage six of the Tour de France where severe crosswinds could be a factor as the peloton take on the exposed 176.5km from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier.