Another sprint in the Tour de France, another victory for a German sprinter but this time it wasn't Marcel Kittel but instead the national champion of Germany, Andre Greipel.
After a completely chaotic Stage 5 in which the Tour rode across the cobblestones and wet roads, losing Tour favorite Chris Froome in the process, Thursday offered a bit more relaxing ride, though it had its fair share of crashes with more rain in France. It didn't take away from a good sprint finish, though.
A four-man breakaway led almost from the very beginning and the last remaining rider from that group, Luis Mate, was reeled back in by the peloton with 20 kilometers to go. From there the team of Mark Renshaw (and Mark Cavendish, who had to leave the Tour after Stage 1, led the push and actually split the peloton in two with the cross winds in Northern France.
But the top competitors as well as the sprinters managed to stay in the lead half of the peloton, which set up the final push. At the one kilometer-to-go banner, Michal Kiwatkowski -- fourth overall -- made a big surge and looked as though he might be able to steal the stage from the sprinters but was brought back into the fold just in time.
With a drawn-out sprint, Greipel was able to get in the front and no rider was able to catch up, leaving them to watch him celebrate. It was the sixth career stage win in the Tour de France for Greipel.
So where was Kittel, the dominant sprinter of the first week of this Tour? He wasn't involved in the sprint at all with his team expending too much to try and push the pace on top of a punctured tire. Kittel crossed the line more than 50 seconds behind Greipel. Green Jersey leader Peter Sagan remained up top and finished fifth, further extending his lead in the points race.
As to the overall classification, nothing changed with Vincenzo Nibali maintaining the Yellow Jersey and staying safe.
Photo of the day
The peloton traversed the French countryside on Thursday and here goes by a cemetery. Pretty great shot via Getty Images.
The Tour rolls into Friday with one more stage categorized as flat before the hills and then mountains come on the weekend and into next week. But that doesn't mean it's going to be a leisurely ride.
Stage 7 will be the second-longest stage of the Tour, going 234.5 kilometers from Epernay to Nancy and it could be a stage with some potential gaps. The intrigue should begin about 30k from the finish as there will be two relatively steep climbs before a downhill run to the line. It's not likely you'll see the usual sprinters around to compete for this win but as he has shown, Peter Sagan isn't a usual sprinter and he might be a good bet for a win considering how he has hung through every obstacle so far.