11/07/19 - 12:25
Mulhouse - La Planche des Belles Filles
Tour de France • Stage6

Mulhouse - La Planche des Belles Filles

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Here it is - the provisional top 10 on GC.


And we're also hearing that Alaphilippe is out of yellow! Giulio Ciccone is the new yellow jersey because of those six bonus seconds he picked up for second place - the slenderest of margins!


So, it's Thomas who takes the final bonus second for third place, while Pinot just catches Alaphilippe for fourth, with the other riders coming home in drips and drabs. The likes of Nibali, Bardet and Martin will lose time today...


Behind, Alaphilippe has ridden clear! But Thomas is in pursuit and catches him before the line.


The Belgian rides clear of Giulio Ciccone to take a maiden Grand Tour stage win.


Victory for Dylan Teuns of Bahrain Merida!


Teuns leads Ciccone as they hit double figures on this savage finale. Meanwhile, Julian Alaphilippe now comes to the front behind! What panache! And Bardet has been dropped!


Landa catches Wellens after that ramp and ahead of the dust track, but the pack is just behind. They won't catch the leaders, though.


The leaders pass under the flamme rouge ahead of the strade bianche section. There's nothign separating them. Landa is in pursuit while Pinot has Gaudu working for him as they ride up a ramp with his name written on it multiple times.


The two leaders are onto the 20% ramp which precedes the usual finish. But the climb continues up that gritty track for another 900m afterwards.


Fabio Aru, a winner here a few years ago, has been dropped, while Barguil is struggling too.


Pinot now comes to the front with a Groupama teammate. But surely he's left it too late? Barguil has been caught, Martin is still there, but Valverde has now been dropped. Landa is 15 seconds up the road.


We haven't seen the leaders for a while - ah, here they are, and Teuns and Ciccone trade pulls on the front. They have 2'40" and so should contest the win - although the yellow jersey is now beyond the Italian.


We're hearing that Dan Martin is struggling. Meanwhile, just as Barguil catches De Gendt from the break, both riders are passed by a far superior Mikel Landa, who rides clear effortlessly.


Attack by Warren Barguil! The French national champion has his radio hanging loose as he darts clear in a bid for glory. He has 2'40" to make up over the next three-odd kilometres.


Valverde comes back to the front as if he's affronted by the slow pace. He has some words with Kwiatkowski and then slips back, so things can't be too strenuous out there. That said, Alaphilippe is really grimacing now - although he's still right up there behind the three Ineos leaders on the front.


Team Ineos are now on the front with Kwiatkowski leading out Bernal and Thomas. But Aaphilippe is still in the mix as the gap comes down to under three minutes.


Wellens now starts to falter. Ciccone, looking every bit a young Tyler Hamilton, drives the pace ahead of Teuns and Meurisse. Then Meurisse feels the pinch...


Movistar's holy trinity of Valverde, Landa and Quintana continue to set tempo - until the world champion hits the wall and goes backwards.


The four leaders are already cat-and-mousing as Ciccone drops back intentionally because he feels Teuns is the danger man and not pulling his weight. This forces the Belgian to come forward, and then the Italian slips into his wheel. They have to be careful because their gap is down to 3'20".


Meanwhile, Van Garderen has made it back on. It's Movistar who lead the main pack onto the climb ahead of Landa and Quintana, with Mas just behind and ahead of the Ineos cluster of riders.


Ciccone is already on the front. He can sniff his second Grand Tour stage win of the year - and with it, perhaps the yellow jersey. He still has over two virtual minutes on Alaphilippe so it's touch and go.


Right, it's show time. The leaders are onto the Cat.1 La Planche des Belles Filles (7km at 8.7%). It has five double-digit ramps including the additional kilometre at the end, which peaks at 24%.


Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz is battling to rejoin the main pack on the descent. The gap is still 4'07". Wellens and Ciccone have had some words in the break - there is definitely a bit of heat between the two riders vying for the polka dot jersey.


The road is already going up for the leaders but the climb proper doesn't start for a few more kilometres. Meanwhile, off the back of the main pack, Jonathan Castroviejo drops back to the Ineos cars to pick up some gels for his leaders - Bernal and Thomas.


The leaders are nearing the bottom of the descent with their advantage still just over four minutes. Remember, Ciccone is 1'43" down on Alaphilippe on GC and so could still feasibly be in yellow tonight - although that's unlikely given the gap will surely come down.


Meanwhile, Tejay van Garderen has been dropped by the streamlined group of favourites, which is being driven by that man Valverde. They're about to catch Nils Politt, from the break.


What extra 900m added to the final climb? This extra 900m added to the final climb...


It's Ciccone who just pips Teuns for the maximum points over the top ahead of Wellens and Meurisse. Their gap is four minutes so it's going to be touch and go whether they stay out today - especially with that extra 900m added to the final climb and the ramp to the finish.


Wellens and Meurisse are struggling to hold on with Ciccone and Teuns on the front of the race. And on the front of the peloton now comes the 59kg skeletal figure of 39-year-old Alejandro Valverde in his rainbow stripes.


De Gendt is dropped so we have four riders clear now: Teuns, Ciccone, Meurisse and Wellens, the polka dot jersey. The summit is in 1km. Back with the pack and Alaphilippe is still there, which is impressive. And Valverde is also there for Movistar. Wout Poels has been dropped - the Ineos rider was working hard earlier for Thomas and Bernal, but that's a surprise to see him falter so early.


De Gendt is now pedalling squares on the steep double-digit ramp of this climb. He's caught by Ciccone, Wellens, Teuns and Meurisse.


Now Movistar come forward with Amador, Soler and Landa. Quintana soon joins but no sign of Valverde. Domestiques are starting to fall like flies after suffering for their efforts.


Peter Sagan, the green jersey, has been dropped. Marcus Burghardt slows to ride with him, but the green jersey urges him to ride on and forget helping him out.


De Gendt's lead is up to 25 seconds now. Back with the peloton, five minutes down, and Jumbo-Visma have three riders on teh front - Jansen, Van Aert and Kruijswijk.


We're onto the Cat.2 Col des Chevreres (3.5km at 9.5%) which peaks out at 18%. Grellier is the next to be dropped by the break. Meanwhile, Pinot is back with the main pack and he comes towards the front with some Groupama teammates.


The chase is being carried out by Wanty pair Pasqualon and Meurisse - that is until Trek duo Bernard and Ciccone come to the front and up the tempo, splitting the break into two. Politt has already gone, and now Arndt and Pasqualon have followed suit.


De Gendt is doing what De Gendt does best and that's stricking out solo and riding on his own ahead of the break. The descent was short and he's now on the apron to the next climb, the penultimate climb, which is probably the hardest of the lot. He has 15 seconds on the 11 chasers.


Ineos and Bahrain have joined Movistar on the front on the climb, with Greipel swept up just ahead of the summit. The gap is down to 5'30" now and so it's far from a done deal for our break. Julian Alaphilippe, in yellow, is still near the front and looking comfortable.


There's 30 seconds between the first and second peloton after that split. Meanwhile, on the front it's De Gendt who zips clear to take the 2pts over the summit and neutralise the efforts of the others vying for KOM points. Good spoil tactics for his teammate Wellens. And De Gendt now rides clear - in pursuit of the stage win, it seems. Politt is dropped near the top.


The gap is down to 6'30" now as Dylan Teuns now comes to the front to set tempo. Julian Bernard is there too, as are the two Lotto riders and Cosnefroy of Ag2R.


Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ has been caught out by this split, which is a rookie error for someone who wants to win this stage.


The break is about to hit the fifth climb, the Cat.3 Col des Croix (3.3km at 6.1%). Behind, the peloton has split as Movistar continue to set a hefty tempo on the descent.


The peloton comes over the summit 7'15" down and so they have slashed the deficit a little. But it looks like the breakaway will produce the stage winner, with Ciccone a good bet to go into yellow. That said, it's early days still - and the peniltimate climb is even harder than the final climb.


Meanwhile, Movistar finally move to the front of the peloton and make their presence known. They have Quintana, Landa and Valverde as cards to play today, plus solid climbers in Soler and Amador.


De Gendt leads out Wellens ahead of the summit - and it's the Belgian who takes the maximum 10pts ahead of Ciccone and Meurisse. Berhane is fourth and De Gendt fifth. So, it looks like Tim Wellens will keep the polka dot jersey for at least another day.


Another mechanical for Warren Barguil, the French national champion. He's got a flat and decides to switch wheels with a teammate rather than wait for the Arkea-Samsic car.


We're hearing that Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) has withdrawn. The Frenchman was dropped on the first climb today and appeared to be suffering from illness. He's the second rider to leave the race today after CCC Team's Paddy Bevin didn't start after X-rays showed that he'd broken a few ribs in the fall he sustained a couple of days ago.


There's a little squeeze towards the back of the pack when the road narrows and some riders touch wheels. Adam Yates is caught out and has to grind to a standstill before continuing on his way. The Briton really shouldn't be so far back on a climb like this.


Interestingly, the Ballon d'Alsace was the first climb ever used in the Tour de France - back in 1905, when Rene Pottier was first to the top. It was 60 years ago, in 1969, that the Tour's first mountain-top finish took place, again on the Ballon d'Alsace, and the winner was... Eddy Merckx.


Greipel is over a minute behind the break now and we still have another 5.5km of the climb to go.


Meanwhile, the peloton passes through the feed zone and picks up musettes. Yves Lampaert is on the front ahead of the Ineos train. The gap is still 8'15".


Lotto duo Wellens and De Gendt have upped the tempo in a bid to slim this break down a little - and Andre Greipel is the first to feel the pinch, understandably. Although it's worth remembering that Greipel was German junior hill climb champion in the Bavarian Alps back in the day...


We're onto the next climb, the Cat.1 Ballon d'Alsace (11km at 5.8%). The leaders have eight minutes.


Mechanical for Romain Bardet of Ag2R-La Mondiale. The Frenchman has had a bit of a rubbish Tour so far, having lost so much time in the TTT on Sunday. He's keeping calm here, though, and has a teammate with him - plus he's been able to take on his lunch early with the peloton no doubt slowing up in a bit as they pass through the feed zone.


Almost eight minutes now for the 14 leaders but still four more climbs. QuickStep have four riders on the front - Asgreen, Richeze, Lampaert and Morkov - ahead of the Ineos train.


Today's finish - on a gritty ramp which runs for 900m beyong the usual summit at La Planche des Belles Filles - looks brutal!


Attack from Berhane! The Eritrean darts out of the saddle and zips clear to surprise Tim Wellens and take the maximum 5pts over the summit of the climb - much to the Belgian's disgust, who takes 3pts for second and then gestures towards the Cofidis rider, suggesting he should continue his attack if that's how he's playing it.


Andrea Pasqualon picks up a flat tyre near the top of the climb, so the Italian will have to fight back to rejoin his fellow escapees.


Toms Skujins has been given the banana baton today...


It's worth pointing out that Caleb Ewan turns 25 today. It will be the only thing he'll be celebrating at the dinner table - unless one of his Lotto Soudal teammates De Gendt or Wellens wins the stage.


Barguil is back with the peloton. Apparently he crashed near the summit of the Grand Ballon and then needed a bike change.


The break is onto the third climb of the day, the Cat. 2 Col du Hundsruck (5.3km at 6.9%). They still have 7'30" on the pack.


Anthony Turgis of Total-Direct Energie is having a bit of a nightmare on this descent. He's riding with Barguil and another Arkea rider but he's in a bad way and overcooking many of the bends, leaving the road on one occasion. All three are still off the back of the peloton but they should get back on soon.


The rain has stopped but the road is very damp and the clouds are menacing. The gap is still over seven minutes as the riders continue this challenging descent. There were some cobblestones on the earlier hairpin bends but now it's just asphalt and it's very wet in patches.


Mechanical for Warren Barguil, who needs a bike change. The French champion won two stages in the 2017 Tour - plus the polka dot jersey - and many people thought that he could stir from his Tour hibernation today. He may still, but will have to fight back into contention first.


Tomorrow, Stage 7 finishes in Chalon-sur-Saone; 60 years ago, Britain's Brian Robinson soloed to glory there by more than 20 minutes. This is how he did it...


De Gendt attacks! This must be part of Lotto's two-pronged assault on the polka dot jersey, with the Belgian looking to protect his teammate Wellens' lead in the KOM standings. De Gendt takes the 2pts over the summit with Ciccone zipping clear to take the remaining point in second place. The rest of the break comes over about 10 seconds later.


It's Lotto Soudal duo De Gendt and Wellens who continue to drive the pace for the escapees, who have 7'20" on the main pack. Poor Nicolas Edet is now almost 11 minutes in arrears.


There's actually no descent after that climb with Le Markstein almost instantly followed by the Cat.3 Grand Ballon (1.3km at 9%). The break are back together more or less - perhaps just a few who are struggling to regain contact.


We mentioned Bradley Wiggins being in yellow on La Planche des Belles Filles back in 2012 ahead of his overall win two weeks later. Well, the big man spoke about the climb in his latest Eurosport podcast this week.


De Gendt, Berhane and Bernard join the three leaders after the summit and so we have six of the original 14-man break riding off the front - although it will probably come back together on the descent.


The break is blown to smithereens ahead of the summit as Wellens zips clear with Ciccone and Meurisse in seach of the KOM points. And it's the Belgian from Lotto who takes the maximum 10pts ahead of Italy's Ciccone who takes 8pts and Meurisse who settles for 6pts. So, Ciccone, who won the blue climbers' jersey in the Giro, has a mind to double up at the Tour.


Wellens and De Gendt edge to the front with the summit now just one kilometre away. Nils Politt, runner-up in Paris-Roubaix, is currently on the back of this break, understandably (he's a big unit).


QuickStep still have two riders on the front in Kasper Asgreen and Max Richeze. Behind, the entire Team Ineos train are riding in formation. Their two leaders - Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal - are 45 seconds and 40 seconds respectively off the race summit, so either could feasibly go into yellow today if Alaphilippe feels the pinch.


It's worth mentioning that this climb, Le Markstein, was the climb on which Alberto Contador abandoned the 2014 Tour after crashing on the previous descent in the mist and breaking a tibia. The Spaniard rode on - and even crested the summit of this climb - before calling it a day. In his absence, and the absence of Chris Froome, who had already pulled out, Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour.


The 14-man break is still together and has just enjoyed a slight downhill section that provides a little respite on this climb. They still have 7'15" over the peloton, which has dropped Nicolas Edet, the Frenchman, who seems to be suffering from illness.


Today's finish is at La Planche des Belles Filles - a climb which has been used three times before in the Tour, resulting in victories for Chris Froome (2012), Vincenzo Nibali (2014) and Fabio Aru (2017). Interestingly, on each occasion, the rider in yellow at the end of the stage went on to win the Tour: Bradley Wiggins (2012), Nibali (2014) and Chris Froome (2017). Will that sequence continue this year? Well, if it does, then it will be interesting to see whose in the maillot jaune tonight...


It's an interesting composition of riders in this break with any of De Gendt, Wellens, Pauwels, Teuns, Ciccone or Meurisse capable of winning. Ciccone could take the polka dot jersey if things pan out well for him - although Wellens being there makes that complicated. The Italian could be there with teammate Bernard for Richie Porte later in the stage, in the same way that Teuns may hope to link up with Vincenzo Nibali later. Cosnefroy could be a relay for Romain Bardet, too, although none of the other big GC teams are represented.


Right, irrelevent intermediate sprint over, now let's focus on the proper stuff. The riders are onto the first climb of the day, the Cat.1 Le Markstein (10.8km at 5.4%). It's the first Cat.1 climb of this year's Tour and the first of seven climbs on today's menu. The gap, incidentally, is up to seven minutes.


Bantz! Matthews darts clear from the pack for that remaining point - Sagan jumps into his back wheel but doesn't bother coming round the Australian, who takes the point and turns round with a smile.


It will be interesting to see what happens when the peloton comes through the intermediate sprint, what with there being just one single point remaining for 15th place. Peter Sagan currently leads Michael Matthews by 144pts to 97pts with Elia Viviani on 92pts.


Oddly enough, there's a huge battle for the intermediate sprint points at Linthal, with Nils Pollit really giving his all. But the German is eventually beaten by Andrea Pasqualon who, with those 20pts, moves into, er, virtual 12th place in the green jersey standings. Andre Greipel, a shade of his former self, is a distant third.


Talking of the king of the mountains... Tim Wellens, the current polka dot jersey, is in the break today - again. Yesterday he added to his tally to move onto 17pts. His nearest opponent was also in yesterday's break, Toms Skujins, who is on 9pts. Then, in third, we have Belgium's Xandro Meurisse of Wanty, who is also in the break today.


Italy's Giulio Ciccone is the virtual yellow jersey on the road. The Trek rider started the day 1'43" down on Alaphilippe on GC and we all know how well he can climb from his results in the Giro, where he won a stage and took the king of the mountains competition.


The gap is up to five minutes now so it's looking good for these 14 riders ahead of the intermediate sprint and first climb.


After all, Groupama's Thibaut Pinot is the local rider who knows these roads like the back of his hands. He's well placed on GC having limited his losses well in the opening week and has made no bones about wanting to win today's stage.


The gap quickly grows to 3'38" with QuickStep, Ineos and Groupama-FDJ all near the front. It's going to be a big day for the GC riders which explains the latter two teams.


The Deceuninck-QuickStep team of yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe sent men to the front to do some blocking - as did Lotto Soudal, who have both Wellens and De Gendt in the break - because they don't want any more riders getting ahead.


Right, we have 14 riders out ahead: Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Serge Pauwels (CCC), Julien Bernard and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), Natnael Berhane (Cofidis), Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Fabien Grellier (Total Direct Energie), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Xandro Meurisse and Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and André Greipel (Arkéa-Samsic).


Attacks from the gun coming from the man you'd always expect to attack from the gun: Thomas De Gendt, aka Mr Breakaway. And once again, it's him and Lotto Soudal teammate Tim Wellens, the polka dot jersey, who are both pushing to get in the break.


And it's started to rain...


They're off! The 175 riders zip through the official start after the neutral zone from Mulhouse. One non-starter today: New Zealander Paddy Bevin has left the race after breaking a couple of ribs in a fall during stage 4.


Today, however, is a very different matter - with seven categorised climbs, 44 KOM points and an extra-long final ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles which could well see one of the big favourites move into yellow...

Stage 6 profile, Tour de France 2019

Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 6 of the Tour de France - and the first summit finish of the race. I'm Felix Lowe and I'll be taking you through all the thrills and spills of an undulating day in the Vosges mountains.