German sprinter Marcel Kittel put in a perfectly-timed effort to claim his second stage of the 2017 Tour de France
Kittel accelerated from behind his rivals in a perfectly-timed effort to win stage six in Troyes, having already won stage two on Sunday. It brings Kittel’s career Tour stage win tally up to 11.
French national champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) came home in second place with German André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in third.
There was no change to the general classification, with all of the main contenders finishing safely within the main peloton. Chris Froome (Team Sky) maintained his 12-second lead over team-mate Geraint Thomas, with Italian Fabio Aru (Astana) in third at 14 seconds.
After the excitement of the previous two stages, stage six served up a relatively calm day, with a three-man escape group out front in hot, sunny conditions.
Frenchman Perrig Quéméneur (Direct Energie), Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates) and Belgian Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) worked well together in the break, but were never allowed to gain more than around four minutes on the peloton.
With 90km to go, a loose parasol found its way into the bunch. Amazingly, all riders managed to avoid crashing into it as it skittered across the road.
A succession of riders from the sprinters’ teams sat at the front of peloton, with FDJ, Cofidis, Lotto-Soudal, Katusha and Quick-Step Floors all represented, keeping the break in constant check.
With that arsenal of firepower all interested in catching the break before setting up the inevitable bunch sprint, the trio were never going to make it to the finish unchallenged. They were swept up with 3km to go.
Despite the chicane and tight roundabout in the run-in to the line, there were thankfully no crashes and no repeat of the controversy of the last sprint stage on Tuesday that saw Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) withdraw with crash injury and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) disqualified.
However, the flow of some of the top teams’ lead-out trains was disrupted as the bunch was strung out in the corners, leaving Kittel to do the work for himself. Accelerating up the left-hand side of the road, Kittel simply looked as though he was riding a gear higher than his rivals.
Démare’s second place means that he keeps hold of the green jersey of points classification leader. Kittel is closing in, with 143 points to Démare’s 170.
The 2017 Tour de France continues on Friday with stage seven, another long 213.5km day from Troyes to Nuits Saint Georges and should finish with a bunch sprint as the profile is relatively flat. The race concludes in Paris on Sunday, July 23.
Tour de France 2017, stage six: Vesoul to Troyes, 216km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, in 5-05-34
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
6. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
8. Daniel McLay (GBr) Fortuneo-Oscaro
9. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo, all same time
56. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at same time
General classification after stage six
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky in 23-44-33
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 12s
3. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team at 14s
4. Dan Martin (Irl) Quick Step Floors at 25s
5. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC at 39s
6. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott at 43s
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at47s
8. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek Segafredo at 52s
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 54s
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora Hansgrohe at 1-01