Three categorised climbs weren’t enough to prevent the Tour de France’s sixth stage from being something of a procession to the final kilometre, where Mark Cavendish edged out Marcel Kittel and emerged victorious in the bunch sprint. Yukiya Arashiro and Jan Barta formed the day’s two-man breakaway, though they were reeled in without having ever looked likely to upset the fast finishers.
Rider of the RaceEmbed from Getty Images
Though it was an outstanding sprint from Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), who seems to have returned to his dominant best, we’re awarding today’s Rider of the Race prize to the little-known Briton Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept). It’s already been an enormously successful sporting year for the uncelebrated city of Leicester, and if McLay’s incredibly impressive start to his debut Tour de France is anything to by, things are only set to get even better.
McLay, who grew up in the United Kingdom after moving from New Zealand, maintained his run of sprint finish top 10s with a hugely successful third place. The 24-year-old beat the likes of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) to take third place on the day, and he’s showing a maturity beyond his years to mix it with the big boys. His team, Fortuneo-Vital Concept, lack the manpower to provide a big lead-out train for their man, making McLay’s consistency in this opening week all the more remarkable. Suffice to say, he’ll be attracting the attention of some of cycling’s biggest teams.
Another quiet dayEmbed from Getty Images
In this era in which almost nothing seems certain, there’s something undeniably reassuring about the Tour de France circus prosaically winding its way through the French countryside, with nothing but the chateaux breaking the monotony of verdant undulations. That has proven to be the overriding theme of the Tour’s first week, with today’s stage once again featuring almost no action before it ramped up for the final finish. We’re yet to have a single abandon, in a welcome change from the crash-dominated first stages of recent editions.
However, today likely marks the end of the phoney war, with tomorrow taking in the first-category Col d’Aspin just a few kilometres before the finish. The peace will surely soon be broken.
1 Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) 4:43:48
2 Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Stop) same time
3 Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) s/t
4 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) s/t
5 Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) s/t
GC top 5
1 Greg van Avermaet (BMC) 30:18:38
2 Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) +05:11
3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +05:13
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +05:15
5 Chris Froome (Team Sky) +05:17
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Points jersey: Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)
KOM jersey: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal)
Best Young Rider: Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step)
Full race review: CyclingNews
Header image: © @LeTour/Twitter