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Mark Cavendish wins his second for 2010, taking Tour de France stage 6

Cavendish gets back on track and goes two-in-a-row in France. Farrar is second.

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2010 Tour de France stage 6, Mark Cavendish wins
Cavendish's 12th career Tour stage win.

HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish left no doubt that he’s back in business, sprinting to his second consecutive stage win of the 2010 Tour de France on Friday.

Once again a daylong break was reeled back in with just a handful of kilometers remaining in the 227.5km sixth stage from Montargis to Gueugnon — the longest stage of the 97th Tour — and the sprinters’ teams fought tooth and nail to take the front going into the final right-hand bend leading to the finish.

Garmin-Transitions had three men on the front in the finale, but the one-two punch of Mark Renshaw and Cavendish once again proved unstoppable, and the Manx Missile launched effortlessly off his teammate’s wheel to collect his 12th career Tour stage win.

“Today was even better than yesterday. The train was perfect today. Renshaw gave me a perfect leadout. I am really happy to win today,” Cavendish said.

Farrar had to be satisfied with second.

“Of course I wanted to win,” Farrar said. “After what happened, I am happy to be in the sprints. I am feeling better and better. I am still not 100 percent. I hope to be better in the second week, and super-good in the third week. Some people thought I was stupid to stay in the Tour with a broken wrist, but I am glad I am still here.”

Cool start to a long day

Stage 6 brought the peloton closer to this weekend’s stages in the Alps, which are expected to bring the first real indication of who the overall contenders will be.

It was a generally rolling course, punctuated by four Category 4 climbs:

  • The Côte de Bouhy at 69.5km
  • The Côte de La Chapelle-Saint-André at 91.5km
  • The Côte des Montarons at 179.5km
  • The Côte de la Croix de l’Arbre at 204.5km

The day began with rain, but the 188 riders remaining in the Tour enjoyed cloudy skies, dry roads and temperatures in the low 20s (mid-70s Fahrenheit) as they rolled out of Montargis.

The day’s obligatory early break came courtesy of Perget Mathieu (Caisse d’Epargne), who took off in the first kilometer with Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

Perez came close to becoming the virtual yellow jersey as the break went on to build a lead of just over eight minutes before the peloton began tugging on the leash.

Perget led the break over the first two climbs, with Lang second on the Côte de Bouhy and Perez Moreno second on the Côte de La Chapelle-Saint-André.

With 119km remaining, the gap was hovering around 6:30 as a mix of teams led the peloton, with HTC, Saxo Bank and Quick Step contributing one rider apiece to setting tempo. HTC had Bert Grabsch and Maxime Monfort at point, with Stuart O’Grady in for Saxo Bank.

The day’s break

  • Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 102nd at 08:07
  • Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto), 126th at 13:05
  • Mathieu Perget (Caisse D’Epargne) 147th at 18:45

Saxo Bank gradually added riders to the front, and with 80km remaining the gap was down to four minutes and falling.

The chase heats up

As the temps rose into the 90s, so too did the peloton’s pace — with 50km to race the break’s advantage was down to just over two minutes, and Bernhard Eisel had joined his HTC mates at the front.

Once again Perget led the break over the Côte des Montarons, with Lang second. But the bunch was closing in — with 35km to go, the break’s lead was down to 1:20 and falling fast.

Twenty-five kilometers from the finish Dmitry Champion (Ag2r) rocketed out of the chase and bridged to the break, which was just a half-minute up the road on the Côte de a Croix de l’Arbre. Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) followed.

Perget took off to snatch the last mountain points, closing to within one point of mountains leader Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), and then kept on going, drilling it down the backside of the ascent and leaving the break behind.

He didn’t stay gone for long — his mates pulled him back with 18km to race as the field closed to within eyeshot of the escapees and began to sort out the pecking order. Rabobank moved forward for Oscar Freire, while RadioShack stepped up to keep Lance Armstrong near the front and out of trouble. HTC, Lampre, Cervélo TestTeam and Garmin-Transitions all edged closer to the sharp end of the bunch, too.

The final kilometers

Fifteen kilometers from the line the break held just 12 seconds, and the question was not if it would be caught, but when. Champion continued to urge the break onward, but his companions seemed to have lost their taste for battle.

The catch finally came with 10km to go, with RadioShack’s Gregory Rast on the point. Armstrong, Alberto Contador (Astana) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) were all near the front, trying to keep out of danger in what had become a pretty stiff crosswind from the left-hand side of the road.

With 6km to go Cervélo was on the front, working for green jersey Thor Hushovd. A kilometer further along and HTC, Garmin and Lampre were all battling for the front, dodging traffic furniture and banging bars and elbows through a series of fast corners.

Cav’s Tour de France stage wins

HTC’s Kanstantin Sivtsov came to the front with 3km to go to give HTC three men on the front, with Lampre on their wheels. Tony Martin was next to roll it out for Cav’. Robbie McEwen (Katusha), ever the free-lancer, was hovering nearby.

Eisel was last man on the front with 2km to go. Then Garmin crashed the party, taking the front under the red kit and putting three men on the point. Julian Dean led out Robbie Hunter — but neither man was a match for Renshaw and Cavendish, and the Manx man took his second consecutive stage win — just ahead of a resurgent Tyler Farrar, still nursing a cracked left wrist and elbow but clearly coming back to form.

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) took third with green jersey Hushovd 10th.

Cancellara still in yellow, Hushovd still in green

Cancellara’s focus will return to working for teammate Andy Schleck soon — perhaps as soon as Saturday.

“If I keep the jersey Saturday, I will be happy, if I don’t, I will be happy the same,” Cancellara said. “I have had many days in yellow and now it’s time for me to help Andy win the Tour. We’ll all work for him now.”

Thor Hushovd failed to get any points in the finish sprint, but retains the points lead.

“I lost position in the final kilometer and couldn’t get back in position,” Hushovd said. “The fight is getting close for the green jersey. We will have a big fight all the way to Paris, against whom, I don’t know.”

Up next

Stage 7 heads east from Tournus and is completely flat for the first 45km, giving the green-jersey contenders a chance to pick up points at two intermediate sprints, before reaching the limestone ridges of the Jura. The progressively harder series of climbs includes three Cat. 2s, two of which fall in the last 31km. After riders crest the final climb, the 14km Cote de Lamoura, they have only 4 flat kilometers remaining to the cross-country ski station of Les Rousses. Not exactly a summit finish, but close.

The Croix de la Sierra was climbed from the opposite direction in 1996. On that cold, wet day, Lance Armstrong called it quits, complaining of breathing problems. He would be diagnosed with cancer three months later. More on stage 7.

Click here for Complete Video Coverage of 2010 Tour

Complete results

Quick results:


  • 1. Mark Cavendish
  • 2. Tyler Farrar
  • 3. Alessandro Petacchi

Overall standings

  • 1. Fabian Cancellara
  • 2. Geraint Thomas, at 20 seconds

Best Young Rider (GC)

  • 1. Geraint Thomas

Points leader

  • 1. Thor Hushovd

Team GC leader

  • 1. Saxo Bank

KOM leader

  • 1. Jérôme Pineau

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