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Tour de France

Live Coverage – Stage 6 Tour de France, 2008

12:57 PM: Good day and welcometo's Live Coverage of the sixth stage of the 95th edition of the Tour de France, a 195.5-kilometer ride from Aigurande to Super-Besse.

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  • 12:57 PM: Good day and welcome

    to’s Live Coverage of the sixth stage of the 95th edition of the Tour de France, a 195.5-kilometer ride from Aigurande to Super-Besse.

    It’s only Thursday in the first week of the Tour, a yawning 17 days before the finish in Paris, but the race is already starting two days in the mountains. Maybe not the high mountains, but the rugged terrain through the Massif Central has plenty of climbing to split the peloton into small groups. This near-200km stage into the Auvergne has four categorized climbs, including the Cat. 2 Col de la Croix-Morand (8km at 5.2 percent) and a summit finish at Super-Besse, but there are also dozens of ups and downs. Neither the start town of Aigurande (southeast of Chateauroux) nor Besse (and its small ski station of Super-Besse) has a population above 2,000. The climb to the finish is nor particularly severe, but it does finish on a 1.5km kicker averaging 10 percent, with some 12-percent pitches.

  • 01:00 PM: The weather

    The cool temperatures of a few days ago are gone and the skies are quite clear. There is a slight 15kph crosswind and the thermometer is show 26c (80f).

  • 01:05 PM: Another day, another early attack

    The race has covered 30km since the start in Aigurande. We saw an early attack develop at 10km, with Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) leaving the peloton.

    The three riders are now 1:25 ahead of the peloton and working to extend that gap.

    Garmin’s Danny Pate is trying to bridge, but he’s not having much success and it looks like he’ll be reeled in.

    The road ahead includes four rated climbs today. The climbing action begins with the Category 4 Cote de L’Armelle at 70km and the Cat. 4 Cote de Crocq at 89km. Then the climbing gets tougher with the Cat. 2 Col de la Croix-Morand at 158km and then ends with another Cat. 2 climb to the finish.

  • 01:08 PM: Drop us a line

    If you have comments, questions or pithy observations, go ahead and hit the “Contact our editors” link at the bottom of our Live Update Window. We’ll try to answer as many as we can and even post a few during today’s live coverage.

  • 01:10 PM: Stage finishes in Super-Besse

    There have been two stage finishes at Super-Besse. In 1978, Belgian Paul Wellens succeeded with a long solo break, finishing a minute ahead of a small group of race favorites, while the bulk of the peloton finished 30 minutes back. In 1996, a small breakaway succeeded in staying clear of a much bigger pack, with Denmark’s Rolf Sorensen taking the uphill sprint from Portugal’s Orlando Rodrigues and France’s Richard Virenque.

  • 01:13 PM: At 35km

    the three leaders are now 2:10 ahead of the field.

  • 01:18 PM: The gap

    It looks like these three may stay away for a while. At 38km, they are now 3:50 ahead of the field. Whether they will survive the remaining 156km is the big question of the day. History might suggest these guys will make it, but we’ll see.

  • 01:25 PM: Our leaders

    and their positions in the overall standings:
    Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), 29th, at 2:10
    Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), 56th at 3:48
    Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), 131st at 7:59.

    Chavanel’s position may mean that the gap won’t be allowed to get too large, but at 42km, the leaders are now 4:00 ahead of the field. That puts Chavanel in the virtual leader’s jersey. Of course, there are still 153km to change that and the Gerolsteiner team is at the front of the peloton, at least monitoring the gap for now.

  • 01:40 PM: At 50km

    the leading three – Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) – are now 5:00 ahead of the peloton. The three have knocked off two of the day’s three intermediate sprints, without really contesting them. Chavanel scored the six points Chatelus-Malvaleix (23.5km), crossing ahead of Vaugrenard and Bichot.

    At Cressat (44.5km), Bichot scored top points, with Vaugrenard and Chavanel crossing behind. That means that each man has wrangled eight points today. Planning? Sure looks like they’re cooperating.

  • 01:55 PM: Reader question

    Tania in South Africa writes in to ask:

    What’s with the feisty French and their breakaways over the last few days!?

    It’s a good question, Tania. It may be a sense of national pride for one thing. It’s amazing, especially for those of us who grew up in the age of Jacques Anquetil and remember the ’80s quite well, that there has not been a French winner of the Tour since 1985 (Bernard Hinault). It is the Tour de France after all. Try to imagine if, say, baseball’s world series were a truly international event and an American team hadn’t won the event for 23 years.

    Because of that, there is a lot of pressure on teams – sponsored by French companies – to put someone in a break and liven up the race and get some TV time. We think it’s terrific and we see riders like Voeckler and Chavanel out there making things interesting. Chapeau!

  • 01:58 PM: On the Cote de L’Armelle

    the leaders are on the day’s first Cat. 4 climb. At 68km, the gap back to the field is holding at around 4:50.

  • 02:05 PM: Cote de L’Armelle

    Our three leaders are up and over the climb. We will get you KOM results ASAP.

  • 02:13 PM: Just a reminder

    While we are waiting for the KOM results,

    We have three men off the front:
    Sylvain Chavanel(Cofidis), 29th, at 2:10
    Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), 56th at 3:48 and
    Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), 131st at 7:59.

    Chav took off at the 6k mark, the others joined him at about the 14k mark on this 196km stage.

  • 02:15 PM: The KOM points

    Race radio reports: Chavanel got the 3 KOM points at the summit, Vaugrenard was second and Bichot was third, getting one precious point.

  • 02:18 PM: Five minutes

    Our three are at the 69km mark and they have an even 5 minutes on the peloton.

  • 02:21 PM: The real climbing

    The peloton has reached Bellegarde-en-Marche at the 71.5km mark and the climbers are starting to tentatively stretch their legs. The gap at this mark has come down a bit, to 4:40.

  • 02:23 PM: Finish line weather

    Up at the Super-Besse ski resort, the forecast for this afternoon is for clear conditions, 15 kmh winds from the SW and a maximum temperature of 22 degrees Celsius – that’s a quite warm 72 degrees Fahrenheit

  • 02:27 PM: Back home

    We’ll be closely watching the Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon this week, where Astana’s Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer are going up against an all-star domestic peloton in the tough stage race.

    In the first stage yesterday, Rock Racing’s Santiago Botero powered away from the field on the last climb to take the win from a 12-man breakaway, while Leipheimer came from way back to grab fourth place.

    No disrespect to this fine, fine race in the American Northwest, but we’ve got to think both these fellows would rather be in France today.

  • 02:32 PM: At 81.5km

    Our all-French breakaway is at the 81.5km mark, in La Villetelle, and they are 4:50 ahead.

  • 02:37 PM: Our latest withdrawal

    A reader asks who the race’s three withdrawals have been.

    “I have Duclos-Lasassalla from stage 1 and Soler from yesterday. I can’t find the third rider,” Jody says.

    The overnight retiree is Aurilien Passeron of Saunier Duval, who crashed in the fifth stage, Jody.

  • 02:47 PM: The Cote de Crocq

    At the top of the Cote de Crocq the peloton was 4:15 behind.

    Chavanel took the KOM points on the Croc, followed by Bichot and Vaugrenard.

  • 02:55 PM: Gerolsteiner

    Schumacher’s team is at the front, getting some help from Evans’ Silence-Lotto team.

  • 02:59 PM: Next stop – lunch

    Rolling, rolling, rolling.

    Our three leaders are maintaining about a 4:30 gap as they roll up a few small climbs toward the Massif Central. Next landmark is the feedzone at KM111 at Herment.

  • 03:02 PM: 5:15

    At the 95km mark, our threesome’s lead has increased to 5:15. Vaugrenard is doing the most work.

  • 03:10 PM: Gerolsteiner and Silence-Lotto

    They are looking to keep the three leaders within striking distance at least until the first Cat. 2 climb, up the Col de la Croix-Morand at KM 158.

    Certainly both teams would like to control things all the way to Super-Besse, but it will get a bit more difficult to keep a thumb on things as the route passes the Croix-Morand and enters the final 50k or so, which is non-stop climbs and descents and twisty roads.

    The finish could be good for riders like Frank Schleck, Kim Kirchen and Voeckler (whose red KOM polka dots, by the way, are fading before our eyes as Chavanel gobbles up points in the break).

  • 03:11 PM: Approaching lunch

    The three leaders are coming up on the feedzone at KM111. Their lead looks to be about 4:00.

  • 03:17 PM: The peloton gets fed

    The pack has passed through the feedzone, always a good place to get a solid time gap… and the gap is down to 3:20. Those Gerolsteiner men are making headway.

  • 03:20 PM: Food fight

    Crashes all over the place in the feedzone.

    We see Florent Brard having a bit of a tangle. A minute ago David Lopez Garcia crashed.

    Slow-speed crashes, both. They should be up and running in no time.

  • 03:22 PM: Brard

    Brard, who you’ll remember from yesterday’s breakaway, needs a new bike, his rear derailleurs is all kertwanged. He’s ok, though.

  • 03:28 PM: pssst

    Evans got a flat.
    The Silence-Lotto gents are waiting for their leader and the pace has slowed a bit.

  • 03:30 PM: Evans

    He’s rolling, talking to his team car, not looking too concerned. He has five teammates standing by.

    Starting to rain a bit.

  • 03:34 PM: Evans back

    He’s back in the peleton and some of his mates are heading back to the front to assist in the chase. We are looking for a time split …

  • 03:47 PM: The pack at 124km

    The pack trails the lead three by 3:20.

    The road are wet, but it’s still warm. Gerolsteiner lined up at the front.

  • 03:52 PM: Herbie the Hamster

    You may have been noticing some odd occurrences in the Live report this morning, as posts appeared and then disappeared. Herbie the Hamster, who powers the site from his high-altitude Habitrail in Boulder, was being a bit … recalcitrant.

    We’ve called in the hamster wrangler to bring order and all is well now.

  • 03:54 PM: Approaching the sprint – and the climb

    The leaders are about 8k from the third sprint of the day, which also marks the start of the Cat. 2 col de la Crois-Morand. The gap is still about 3:15.

    Meanwhile, Brard has still not caught back on to the peloton.

  • 03:58 PM: back in the sun

    The breakaway riders are back on dry roads; the gap is coming down as they approach the sprint. Gap is about 2:30.

  • 04:00 PM: Speculation Alert

    The breakaway riders shouldn’t take it personally. Gerolsteiner is likely upping the pace primarily to discourage attacks as we approach the first real climbs of the day (indeed, the first real climbs of the 2008 Tour …)

  • 04:03 PM: The Col

    There is a small crowd at the summit. The climb itself is no slouch: 8km at an average 5.2 percent grade. More importantly, it serves as an entry to the last, more difficult kilometers to the race.

  • 04:05 PM: Reminder.

    If you are just joining in, we have three men off the front:
    Sylvain Chavanel(Cofidis), 29th, at 2:10
    Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), 56th at 3:48 and
    Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), 131st at 7:59.

    Chav took off at the 6k mark, the others joined him at about the 14k mark on this 196km stage.

    Their gap is coming down to just over two minutes as they approach the second intermediate sprint.

  • 04:09 PM: The sprint

    at a Bourboule, Vaugrenard got the points, ahead of Bichot and Chavanel.

    Their gap is 2:20.

  • 04:12 PM: On the climb

    The gap is 2 minutes even.

    Chavanel would like to stay away until the top to grab some more KOM points … he should be able to do it.

  • 04:15 PM: 1:55

    The gap comes down.

    The leaders are about 2k into the climb.

    Back in the pack, Quickstep, Agritubel and Liquigas are moving up.

  • 04:17 PM: A Credit Agricole rider

    A CA rider is on the attack at the base of the climb.

  • 04:19 PM: Vaugrenard pops

    The FdJ rider has dropped off the break. The CA rider is trying to bridge to Chavanel and Bichot.

  • 04:20 PM: The Credit Agricole rider

    is Remi Pauriol. He’s making some headway and a Barloworld rider is trying to join him.

  • 04:22 PM: Where’s Gerolsteiner?

    Schumacher’s team is losing control at the base of this climb, as several riders are splitting off the front.

    Up front Chavanel is hammering in the drops in a big gear. Getting the first KOM points at the top is key for him. He is about 2.5km from the top.

  • 04:25 PM: Columbia

    We see more blue Team Columbia jerseys at the front of the pack now. Cavendish has dropped off the pack, but the team is trying to keep Kim Kirchen within striking distance.

  • 04:26 PM: The leaders approaching the top

    The trees are thinning out. Their gap is 1:24. Bichot is pulling.

  • 04:27 PM: 1k to go

    The two are past the 1k sign.

  • 04:30 PM: By our reckoning

    math is not the Auxiliary Back Up Live Update Guy’s strong point, but Chavanel appears to have a lock on the KOM points after nabbing the first-place points at this summit.

  • 04:31 PM: Voeckler

    The man in the polka dots today is going after the third place points at this summit, he’s attacking up the right ….

  • 04:32 PM: Voeckler got it

    We didn’t count on that. Have to double check our math.

  • 04:33 PM: If you are keeping score at home:

    Results of the Col de la Croix-Morand KOM:
    1. Sylvain Chavanel (COF) 10pts
    2. Freddy Bichot (AGR) 9pts
    3. Thomas Voeckler (BTL) 8pts – at 56s
    4. Sandy Casar (FDJ) 7pts
    5. Gorka Verdugo (EUS) 6pts
    6. Luis Sanchez (GCE) 5pts

  • 04:35 PM: Now

    We can’t do the math on this descent!

    It’s about a 10k descent.

    A reader tells us that Voeckler and Chavanel are now tied on KOM points.

  • 04:39 PM: Caisse d’Epargne

    Valverde’s team is leading the chase. Bichot and Chavanel have about 50s.

    Three riders: Verdugo, Voeckler and Casar, are in between.

  • 04:41 PM: phew

    Ok, race radio confirms the reader: Voeckler and Chavanel are tied with 27 points. There are double points up for grab at the finish line, so that could break the tie.

  • 04:44 PM: Three three in no-man’s land

    are caught. The peloton is together behind Bichot and Chavanel. The peloton is a bit smaller than it was. Besides Cavendish, Thor Hushovd got dropped on the climb.

  • 04:45 PM: 25k to go

    For the duo. They still have 20s.

  • 04:47 PM: Chavanel sits up

    He’s waiting for the peloton. Bichot is alone with a few seconds.

  • 04:48 PM: Bichot at 20k to go

    He’s still hammering with about 23s. Valverde’s team continues to lead the bunch.

  • 04:50 PM: That final climb

    Heading up to Super-Besse, it’s a cat. 2 climb with several steep (12 percent) ramps, but also several flatter sections.

  • 04:54 PM: Another Credit Agricole attack

    Alexandre Botcharov is trying to bridge to Freddy Bichot.

  • 04:55 PM: Bichot at about 15k to go

    He’s still off the front, approaching the final climb.

    Bichot was the Lanterne Rouge two days ago …

  • 04:58 PM: Within sight

    The Caisse d’Epargne team is still leading the bunch as it approaches the final climb to Super-Besse. Bichot has a tenuous lead.

  • 05:02 PM: Bichot caught

    he’s back in the fold.

  • 05:02 PM: Zabel crash

    Milram’s vet took a tumble. Looks like he will pop right up.

  • 05:05 PM: Zabel

    Zabel is up and at the back of the peloton.

  • 05:07 PM: Two riders off

    Laurent Lefevere and Amael Moinard (Cofidis) are taking a dig.

  • 05:11 PM: Efimken

    AG2R’s Vladimir Efimken is off the front with about 5.5km to go. He has a few seconds and a Cofidis rider is trying to bridge.

  • 05:12 PM: The Cofidis rider

    is David Moncoutie. He has caught and they have about 15s on the pack.

  • 05:13 PM: VV

    Garmin’s Christian Vande Velde is chasing.

  • 05:14 PM: VV closing quickly

    at 5k to go, he’s got the two, and going past

  • 05:16 PM: VV in sixth overall

    He only needs about 37s to take yellow.

    With 4k to go, he is with Saunier Duval’s Leonardo Piepoli.

  • 05:17 PM: They have 20s

    as the pair approaches the final ramps.

  • 05:19 PM: About 18s

    They are on a fast section, approaching the final ramp at about 11 or 12 percent. Vande Velde is looking quite solid on the front.

  • 05:20 PM: Caught

    VV is caught, Piepoli still has a small gap, with 1 k to go

  • 05:21 PM: the leaders

    Piepoli caught, Menchov and Kirchen near the front. Caisse D’Epargne still has 3 riders near the front.

  • 05:22 PM: last k

    Valverde sitting pretty, Schumacher is still there.

  • 05:23 PM: crash

    Schumacher down!

  • 05:23 PM: The Cobra

    Ricco wins, followed by Valverde

  • 05:23 PM: Schumacher

    will he get the final k ruling?

  • 05:25 PM: Riccardo Ricco

    Gets the win with an acceleration in the last 300 meters.

    Columbia’s Kirchen may get the jersey.

  • 05:26 PM: The final k rule

    Normally it is not invoked on mountain top finishes, so Schumacher appears to have lost the jersey due to an unfortunate crash in the final meters.

  • 05:31 PM: Kirchen gets it

    Kim Kirchen is the new leader of the Tour de France.

    Stage results:
    1. Riccardo Ricco (ITA) SDV
    2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE at 1″
    3. Cadel Evans (AUS) SIL at 1″
    4. Frank Schleck (LUX) CSC at 4″
    5. Kim Kirchen (LUX) COL at 4″
    6. Roman Kreuziger (CZE) LIQ at 7″
    7. Moises Duenas Nevado (ESP) BAR at 7″
    8. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC at 7″
    9. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB at 7″
    10. Leonardo Piepoli (ITA) SDV at 7″

  • 05:34 PM: GC

    1. Kirchen
    2. Cadel Evans at 6s
    3. Stefan Schumacher at 16s

  • 05:40 PM: Signing off

    Thanks for following along. Stay tuned tomorrow for another tough day, from Brioude to Aurillac, with Team Columbia’s Kim Kirchen in the yellow.

    Yes, Herbie the Hamster will get some extra chow.