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Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 17:01 UK

Stage six as it happened

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By Pranav Soneji

1644: So another enthralling day awaits on Friday for the 159km stage seven, which sees the Tour start in Brioude and finish in Aurillac, with a couple more category twos thrown in for good measure. Paul Fletcher will be your host then but until next time, happy pedalling.

"Kirchen in yellow but things really hotting up. Does anyone think Ricco can pull back the 4 minutes he lost and become a big threat in the Tour?" vidic4ever on 606

1631: Confirmation the crash has cost Schumacher dear as Kim Kirchen takes the yellow jersey, with Cadel Evans six seconds behind. Schumacher drops to third, with Christian Vandevelde 44 seconds behind the leader. David Millar drops two places to fifth position overall, 47 seconds behind Kirchen.

1626: Could that crash see Schumacher lose the maillot jaune? The Gerolsteiner rider looked to have collided with team-mate Bernard Kohl about 800m from the finishing line.

1623: Ricardo Ricco crosses the line to win stage six - but what drama in the closing seconds! The Saunier Duval-Scott rider outsprints Alejandro Valverde, who finishes second, with Cadel Evans in third.

1622: Stefan Schumacher has gone down!

1620: Two kms to go and no-one has attacked as the leaders have been caught up, surely someone has to go??? Cadel Evans and Frank Schleck are involved too.

1618: All the big guns are well poised here - the likes of Valverde, Menchov and Kirchen. However, we have not seen too much of David Millar today. Leonardo Piepoli joins team-mate Ricco at the head of the race as the leaders start the ascent to the top of Super Besse.

1614: Five km to go and suddenly we sees Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vandevelde attack Efimkin, along with Saunier Duval-Scott's Ricardo Ricco. Three kms to go.

1610: Another attack, this time from Vladimir Efimkin of Ag2r-La Mondiale. The Russian takes the lead with poursuivants nine seconds behind.

1606: The Super-Besse is a category two climb where double points will be awarded at the top, so plenty for the teams to chase for.

1602: Sure enough, just as Im_partial predicted below, Bichot has been swallowed up by the chasers. The new breakaway sees Bouygues Telecom's Laurent Lefevre and Cofidis's Amael Moinard in front with 9km to go.

"If anyone is still wondering, Chavanel sat up and got absorbed in to the groupe maillot jaune. Not sure if he went right thorough and out the back. Bichot will get swept up soon, I think, as he only has something like 15 seconds on the chasers."
Im_partial - TDF tops on 606

"Kirchen's in the main group." Phil S - BBC Sport on 606

1554: Another attack from a Credit Agricole rider, this time from Alexandre Botcharov. The Russian is 16 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey peloton and 11 seconds behind Bichot. Still no word on Chavanel and his disappearing act. We have 15km to go.

"Don't count Schumacher out yet. He's not bad over the lesser climbs. He struggles over the big mountains, but this is a mere 2nd cat climb." GoodPandaPanda on 606

1547: Alejandro Valverde is very much in the mixer with his Caisse d'Epargne team pushing him along at a decent lick. Hang on, where's Sylvain Chavanel gone? We've just cut to the head of the race and there's Freddy Bichot all on his lonesome. Something has gone wrong, but I don't know what. How cruel would that be with 20km to go and a horrible mechanical problem ruins his chances of a stage win.

"I think Valverde needs to attack today to try and get some time back on Evans, but I can't see the final climb being difficult enough for him to get away, I think the race favourites will finish in a group, with Kirchen most likely to take yellow, and Ricco to be allowed to attack and take the stage win."
igmeister on 606

1539: Chavanel is now equal on 27 points with current polkadot jersey incumbent Thomas Voeckler.

1535: Chavanel is pumping his legs as he reaches the top of the Col de la Croix-Morand ahead of Freddy Bichot to snatch 10 valuable points. The standing goes thus:

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Cof) 10 points
2. Freddy Bichot (Agr) 9 points
3. Thomas Voeckler (Btl) 8 points
4. Sandy Casar (Fdj) 7 points
5. Gorka Verdugo (Eus) 6 points

1531: Credit Agricole's Remi Pauriol has moved away from the peloton and has caught up with the clearly spent Benoit Vaugrenard. But more importantly the yellow jersey of Stefan Schumacher is less than a minute behind the leaders. It's all simmering nicely for an enthralling finish.

1526: Five Live summariser Graham Jones reckons Kim Kirchen will be in the yellow jersey tonight, the uphill finish will very much favour Team Columbia's Luxembourger rider, but will Cadel Evans have anything to say about that prediction?

"Attacks on the col! Gerolsteiner seems to have lost control, with lots of individuals from other teams taking it in to their own hands. It's hotting up."
Im_partial - TDF tops on 606

1522: Just got a glimpse of Mark Cavendish, he's on his own somewhere near the rear of the peloton. And that's about it.

1517: Benoit Vaugrenard is feeling the strain as he drops back on the Col de la Croix-Morand, leaving Freddy Bichot and Sylvain Chavanel to charge ahead.

1508: We're getting close to the first real big climb of the tour - the category 2 Col de la Croix-Morand at 158km. The peloton is closing in fast, the gap is now two minutes.

1500 Chavanel, Vaugrenard and Bichot are slowing quite significantly and the gap between is now down to two minutes 16 seconds. The Gerolsteiner riders are still at the head of the peloton. However, the trio pick up more sprinting points:

1. Benoit Vaugrenard (Fdj) 6 points
2. Freddy Bichot (Agr) 4 points
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Cof) 2 points

1454: The gap between the breakaway French trio and the peloton is now under three minutes.

1445: Nice close-up of Alejandro Valverde's bike, as well as his stitches after his fall on Wednesday. The Caisse d'Epargne rider and winner of the first stage of this year's Tour breaks out into a cheeky grin as the camera pans to his face. Bet he wasn't smiling when the antiseptic was being applied to his wounds yesterday.

1436: The leading trio are heading downhill and it looks like the rain has abated where they are.

1433: Cadel Evans is back in the mixer once again after quick repair works on a puncture.

1428: We've got 75km and the rain is coming down at a fair old lick as the leaders head to Briffon. Looks like Cadel Evans has a problem, maybe a puncture and his Silence-Lotto team obediently wait for their leader. The gap is contracting between the peloton and the breakaway trio - it is now down to three minutes 20 seconds.

"The break is being steadily pulled back, so no doubt it's only a matter of time. The rain could add a bit of excitement. Nervous times in the peloton today I think, as the leaders realise that they don't want to get in to any bother." Im_partial - TDF tops on 606

1423: More bike repair works, this time for Team Columbia's Gerald Ciolek, who needs a new front wheel. The German has a quick stretch and within no time he's back on the bike.

1418: Two riders fall off their bikes attempting to grab some tucker from the feeding stations - Caisse d'Epargne's David Lopez and Cofidis's Florent Brard look slightly embarrassed, although Brard looks like he needs some attention to his bike. The Frenchman's rear derailleur is kaput.

1412: The lead is slowly being cut by the peloton, the French trio of Chavenel, Vaugrenard and Bichot now have a four minute lead.

1407: Lunchtime and a few of the riders rummage around for some form of carbohydrate-heavy snack, one rider (apologies, I couldn't quite see who it was) eats what looks like a Mr Kiplings apple pie (other apple pie brands available).

1359: The breakaway trio cross the 100km point.

1354: Silence-Lotto move into place behind Gerolsteiner in the peloton, with their main man Cadel Evans in the hunt for honours in the GC.

1350: The leading French trio successfully ride over the category four Côte de Crocq 89km in, with the peloton still a good five minutes behind them. The Gerolsteiner team has gone to the front of the peloton to pick up the pace for their maillot jaune rider Stefan Schumacher.

"I think Chavenel is going for the polkadot jersey. Very impressed by the French riders this year - always on the attack. Felt sorry for Vogondy yesterday being caught just before the finish - great effort. Valverde to outsprint the leading bunch to win todays stage."
66dazman66 on 606

1342: Sylvain Chavanel has been tipped by a few of you for the maillot pois by some of you on 606, he's obviously making a statement of intent at the head of the race. But does he have the resolve to hang on come the last push up Super-Besse? The riders can see the climb a good 2km before they reach the bottom, so if you're spent, you've got no chance.

"Expect a split in the field at that final Cat 2, and agree that some of the GC lads may well want to flex it and grab a few seconds. You know that Cadel Evans will be going with them - he's not going to give up his current advantage. I like Moreau to try and start getting some KOM points today, but I also expect Ti-Vo to hang on today - these climbs are not too high for him, and he'll want to hang on to the maillot pois as long as possible."
Im_partial - TDF tops on 606

1328: Just heard some pre-stage chat from Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen, who believes the uphill finish at Super-Besse will play to his advantage, but he is not underestimating Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher in the slightest.

1326: More points at the top of the Côte de L'Armelle:

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Cof) 3 points
2. Benoit Vaugrenard (Fdj) 2 points
3. Freddy Bichot (Agr) 1 points

Peter Slater has been covering the Tour for BBC Radio 5 Live and he has written a 606 piece on Mark "Cannonball" Cavendish's brilliant stage win on Wednesday - have a read here:

1310: - Leaders Chavenel, Vaugrenard and Bichot are heading for the first major climb of the day at 70km on the Côte de L'Armelle, a category four climb which goes on for 2.3km. The French trio have a four minute 55 second lead over the peleton.

"Cav - simply awesome! He didn't just beat them yesterday, he left the other world-class spinters trailing in his wake. Great job by the Columbia Team to put him in precisely the right place at the right time. I could watch it again, and again, and again (oh, I did...)."
r1200gsbiker on 606

1302: Wonder how Mark Cavendish is faring today after the euphoria and glory crossing the finishing line on the Avenue de la Chatre yesterday. No doubt he'll be lingering somewhere near the rear of the peloton, but the Manxman has said he wants to win a second stage on a Tour he intends to complete. I wouldn't bet against it, but then again I've also said I'm not betting on anything anymore, so make of that what you will.

"The French are loving their long break aways this year. After missing out on a bunch sprint earlier in the Tour and only just catching the break yesterday surely the peleton will jump on this break? Valeverde to win today - put a monkey on it!" Cockney-Nutjob on 606

I haven't got a monkey on me today, only a hippo, or is it a gazelle? Anyway, my money is firmly staying in my pocket after my proclamation that France would win Euro 2008. Anyone else put silly money on bets that look dead certs to win, but end up looking very silly after the sporting event has actually finished?

1249: The gap between the French leading trio and the peleton is now five minutes.

"The three breakaway riders could easily stay away and Chavenel has possibilities for the polka dot as he can climb when needed and not affect the overall. Polka Dot chances, ignoring the GC contenders, Sandy Casar, Felix Cardenas (will now be given his head as Soler is out), Manuel Monfort, and possibly Moreau."
Strong Promise on 606

1230: We have the results from the second intermediate sprint at the 44.5km mark in Cressat:

1. Freddy Bichot (Agr) 6pts points
2. Benoit Vaugrenard (Fdj) 4 points
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Cof) 2 points

The first sprint point at 23km went thus:

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Cof) 6pts points
2. Benoit Vaugrenard (Fdj) 4 points
3. Freddy Bichot (Agr) 2 points

"Can't see Millar taking yellow to be honest, the stage is pretty much ideal for the likes of Kirchen and Schumacher: uphill but nothing too serious."
Lowlandbrit on 606

1220: The trio of Chavenel, Vaugrenard and Bichot are already three minutes 40 secs ahead of the pack - and we're only 41km into the race. Any guesses on when they'll be caught up? A couple of people on 606 have tipped Saunier Duval-Prodir's David de la Fuente as a possible Polkadot winner - any other riders to watch out for in the coming few days?

"I'd like to see Millar take advantage today, I think realistically it is one of his better chances as his GC position will worry some others will recognise that it is only the first week and with the big bumps to come... Certainly a day for those wishing to wear Polka before the Alps."
designaw on 606

1210: We already have a breakaway with three French riders, Sylvain Chavenel, Benoît Vaugrenard and Freddy Bichot leading the peloton by about two minutes and 10 seconds.

"It might be one of those days where teams place the right men in the attack and because they aren't really dangerous, the peloton let them get on with it. The bigger hills are around the corner, and I think people will be saving themselves for that. Fascinating day in prospect it has to be said."
Rambon on 606

1208: Thursday's stage has four climbs to look out for - two category fours and two twos.

They go something like this:

- 70km: Côte de L'Armelle (Cat 4)
- 89km: Côte de Crocq (Cat 4)
- 158km: Col de la Croix-Morand (Cat 2)
- 195.5km: Super-Besse (Cat 2)

1202: OK, so we're off as Tour director Christian Prudhomme gets the riders on their way.

1157: So what are your thoughts for today's effort? This could be another day for the Union Jack if David Millar fulfils his climbing potential. Let me know how you think today will go via 606 (using the link at the top of the text commentary) or send your texts to 81111.

1152: Bonjour la classe, who had to be scraped off the ceiling yesterday after Mark Cavendish's win? Talk about nerveless, I'm still in shock. The boy has confidence, but it's so reassuring to see a British sportsman who can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

see also
Tour de France stage six photos
10 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Hushovd sprints to Tour success
06 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Valverde triumphs in Tour opener
05 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2008 preview
02 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Cycling on the BBC
30 Jun 08 |  Cycling

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