Mayhem in Metz overshadows Sagan's third win
It only seemed appropriate that Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale), who collected his third Tour de France victory on Friday, would break out an Incredible Hulk salute momentarily after winning Stage 6 in Metz as there was a certainly a wake of destruction behind him [though he had little hand in what many are already referring to as the Massacre in Metz].
For Sagan's part, he simply destroyed the remainder of the field in the bunch sprint, roaring past all-comers. First flicking by a Vacansoleil-DCM rider, who dropped his chain in the closing meters, and then outkicking both André Greipel (Lotto Belisol Team) and Matthew Goss (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team) to the line, the 22-year-old Slovak proved he was just as capable of winning on the flats as he is on the inclines.
With the win, Sagan would pad his lead in the competition for the green jersey, which he now leads by 31 points over second placed Goss.
Results - Stage 6 - Épernay - Metz (207.5km)
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale - 4:37:00
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
3. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
With the green clad Sagan unveiling his Hulk on Stage 6, and David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) once again flying the colors of Captain America in the time trials, the professional peloton is just an Iron Man and Hawkeye shy of assembling the male contingent of the Avengers. It's a shame that Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) was not able to line up for this year's race.
Massacre in Metz
A seemingly innocuous stage turned into a blood bath as pile up after pile up occurred on the route to Metz.
While there does not seem to be any forensic video evidence of the final crash that transpired 15 kilometers from the finish in Metz, the aftermath was more indicative of a war zone than it was a bicycle race. Riders laid out in ditches and on the sides of the road, kits in tatters, and blood generously flowing from limbs marred the stage and a race that has already seen far too many mishaps.
As the front of the peloton sped off to catch the final remnants of the break and contest the finish, half of the field was delayed for several minutes as the roads proved inaccessible to any team cars. A large group of riders was able to chase back, many of whom rolled into town between two and six minutes behind the peloton which avoided the crash, but some General Classification contenders took a major hit as they crossed some 13 minutes in arrears.
Four riders, Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Davide Vigano (Lampre - ISD), Tom Danielson (Garmin - Sharp), and Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) did not finish.
Quick Stepping Through the Tour - Down But Not Out
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team was mostly able to avoid the crash and finish with the front group, except Dries Devenyns. Dries was able to complete the stage despite being involved in the hectic crash.
Tomorrow is the first mountain stage of the Tour de France. Sylvain Chavanel remains 3rd in the GC, +07" to yellow jersey wearer Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan).
"I have pain, for sure," Dries Devenyns said. "I went down at a really high speed, 55km/h an hour. There was a crash in front, and I don't know what happened. I saw everyone braking and crashing in front of me. I had the reflex of protecting my head, and I was on top of Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp), and then a few more fell on top of us. So far so good, but I have some bruises on the right side of my body and then my shoulder. It could have been worse."
"Tomorrow will be the first test for everyone for the GC because after a week withut climbs, the first climb is always an important and demanding test," Sylvain Chavanel said. "We will see what we can do. It depends on the situation, if there will be a good chance to do something."
"Tomorrow will be a hard day," Kevin De Weert said. "Until now we did a great job. My job is to stay with Levi and so far everything went well. Hopefully it can be in the same for the coming stages."
"It's going to be less stressful than these days," Peter Velits said. "But I still feel a little bit cheated when I was at two minutes back the first stage. It's hard to start the mountains two minutes back. But OK, there's a lot of guys, GC contenders who have lost time. Some of them a lot of time. So, it's OK I guess. We need to see how I feel in the climbs because I can feel good now, but you never know until the moment you are there fighting. It's a big test for everybody."
"For GC for tomorrow it's definitely going to become clear who is strong who the favorites are," Levi Leipheimer said. "It's pretty simple math, I think if someone gets dropped tomorrow big time they are obviously not in it. I feel good, but we haven't really been put to the test. I feel like so far — knock on wood — I've been lucky on this tour. Been really close to about 5-6 crashes and I've missed it. Today was really important. We had five or six guys at the front at the right moment. So, we're still in it."
General Classification After Stage 6
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan - 29:22:36
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling - 0:00:07
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:10
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team - 0:00:13
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:17
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:18
8. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:19
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
10. Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:22
Jersey Leaders After Stage 6
maillot jaune - Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
maillot vert - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
maillot à pois rouges - Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
maillot blanc - Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
Team Classification After Stage 6
1. Sky Procycling - 88:08:22
2. RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:04
3. BMC Racing Team - 0:00:06
4. Omega Pharma-Quick Step - 0:00:13
5. Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:25
6. Katusha Team - 0:00:34
7. Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team - 0:00:46
8. Euskaltel - Euskadi - 0:01:51
9.Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne - 0:02:23
10. Orica Greenedge Cycling Team - 0:02:26
Next: Stage 7 - Tomblaine - La Planche des Belles Filles (199km)
The first mountain stage of this year's race is sure to bring out all the contenders.
Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images