Omega Pharma – Quick-Step cycling Team rider Mark Cavendish was able to pace back to the peloton after crashing on a hot, windy day, and the team led him into the bunch sprint on the 176.5km Stage 6 on Thursday.
All the top sprinters — except Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), who abandoned during the stage — were in the mix for the flat stage finale. OPQS established its leadout train, but the peloton did not start accelerating the pace to position their sprinters until the Flamme Rouge approached. Lotto-Belisol put Andre Greipel in good position, and Argos-Shimano had been on the front in the final kilometers for Marcel Kittel. Peter Sagan of Cannondale was isolated, but was able to get good position for the sprint.
Cavendish was dropped off by his last man, Gert Steegmans, in the final meters. The sprint was launched early by multiple riders, and Cavendish was unable to maintain his power to the line. Greipel won, Sagan was 2nd, Kittel 3rd.
Daryl Impey (Orica-Greenedge) now wears the yellow jersey. Michal Kwiatkowski and Sylvain Chavanel are now 5th and 6th in the GC (+6″). Kwiatkowski also remains in the white jersey, with 16″ on Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp).
Cavendish crashed in a roundabout with less than 35km to go. He has abrasions on his right knee, left shoulder, rib and upper arm.
“I think there were a lot of factors — for sure the crash didn’t help,” Cavendish said about the effect of the crash on his sprint. “It took a lot of energy to get back. I can’t say for sure though, you know, Andre was really strong today and he deserved the win.”
“I’m disappointed, but you know we won the stage yesterday, and the morale is still good,” Cavendish said. “We rode strong all day in difficult conditions, so it’s OK. We’ve got another two weeks left.”
OPQS looks next to a 205.5km Stage 7 on Friday.