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Friday, July 8, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Tour de France stage 6 reports

We posted the race organizer's stage 6 report with the results.

Here’s the report from stage winner and new GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

After yesterday’s stage characterized by many cobbled sections, the Tour de France today brought the riders to the Ardennes, with 219.9km from Blinche to Longwy.

The break of the day featured maillot jaune Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who was brought back with 15km to go as the the teams lifted the pace in the peloton.

In a classic finish of the Ardennes, the riders tackled the Cote Montingny sur Chiers in quick succession, 1.6 kilometers at 4.4%, then Cote de Pulventeux, 800 meters at 12.3% which crested at five to the finish, and finally the Cote Religieuses, 1.6 kilometers at 5.8%.

UAE Team Emirates moved well with Majka and McNulty accompanying Pogačar on all bumps, allowing the young Slovenian to first neutralise Vuillermoz’s attack (TotalEnergies), and finally to unleash a turn of speed in the last 500 meters .

Tadej Pogacar wins stage six. Sirotti photo

Pogačar: “Winning here at Le Tour is more beautiful every time. Today was really tough from the start, with strong riders making moves and the whole group always pushing to reduce the gap. I didn’t even know if we were going to make it in the end but, with the great team work, we managed to get to the front and I was well escorted to the top positions right in the final. After the fatigue of the last few climbs it was really hard to overtake everyone at speed, but obviously I had good legs. I am super happy with this victory and to be able to wear the Yellow Jersey.”

With today’s stage success, the leader of UAE Team Emirates also takes the Yellow Jersey, which he will wear tomorrow on the first real day dedicated to climbers.

On the program tomorrow is 176.5 km starting from Tomblaine and arriving at the top of the Super Blanche des Belles Filles, where in 2020 he won his first Yellow Jersey.

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Here's the report from Wout van Aert's Team Jumbo-Visma:

With a long breakaway, Wout van Aert has taken a shot at a new stage victory in the sixth stage of the Tour de France. Wearing the yellow jersey, the Belgian rode almost two hundred kilometres in the attack, partly in his own country.

Wout van Aert will start stage seven in green.

Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard showed their resilience after the cobblestone stage. The duo finished in the top ten of the day's classification.

Van Aert was the initiator of several breakaway attempts. After seventy kilometres, one of his many efforts resulted in success. Two other riders joined the Belgian and in no time the trio built up a four-minute lead. At the intermediate sprint, Van Aert took the maximum number of points and consolidated his leading position in the points classification.

Several teams in the peloton increased the pace and the leaders' lead slowly but surely diminished. Ten kilometres from the finish, the peloton caught Van Aert, who by then was riding solo. After four days in the yellow jersey, the Belgian could exchange it for the green jersey.

When Van Aert was caught, Tiesj Benoot positioned himself at the front of the bunch to work for leaders Roglic and Vingegaard. A depleted peloton sprinted for the win on the final slope, with Vingegaard and Roglic finishing seventh and ninth, respectively, behind stage winner Tadej Pogacar.

After finishing the stage, Van Aert explained his plans. "I wanted to be in a big breakaway. That way, we wouldn’t have to waste too much energy in the chase. Right from the start, I took the initiative. A lot of teams had the same idea. Unfortunately, we only got away with three. Because I had already used up all my energy at that point, I decided to push on. I did my best and said goodbye to the yellow jersey in style. I enjoyed today's stage and I hope the fans did too. It was a nice way to end my time in yellow. It's not bad at all to be wearing the green jersey now."

Vingegaard was already looking ahead to the mountains. Tomorrow the peloton will finish on an uphill slope for the first time. The current number three in the general classification expected that there will be new opportunities for his team. "I think we have one of the strongest teams for that terrain, which will enable Steven Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss to show their exceptional qualities. Long climbs suit me better than steep and explosive finishes like today. Supported by our strong team, I believe we can show some great things in the upcoming stages”, Vingegaard concluded.

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Second-place Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange-Jayco sent me this report:

Three-time Tour de France stage winner Michael Matthews came close to snatching his fourth stage victory today, as the 31-year-old Australian sprinted to a superb second place, on what was a long and relentless day of racing for day six of the Tour de France.

The 2017 Green Jersey winner fought over the hilly terrain in the closing kilometres to put himself in contention after selfless teamwork from his Team BikeExchange-Jayco teammates, with only defending champion Tadej Pogacar able hold off Matthews in the drag to the line.

Michael Matthews drives for second place. Sirotti photo

After the carnage on the cobbles the previous day, there was no respite for the peloton on what was the longest stage of the tour, as one attack after the other was launched during the first 80km of racing. Team BikeExchange-Jayco were keen to put a man up the road, but eventually just three riders were allowed to escape.

The yellow jersey wearer Wout van Aert was amongst the breakaway, and despite the overall race leader's best attempts to solo to the finish, the peloton finally swept him up with 11km remaining. New Zealander Jack Bauer and Slovenian Luka Mezgec then guided Matthews to the head of the bunch and into position on the final categorised climb of the day.

Attacks over the top, thinned out the already reduced peloton further, but Matthews remained amongst the top-five wheels as the pack caught a late attacker on the slopes of the climb to the finish line.

It was then a waiting game, with a number of general classification contenders in the mix alongside riders eager for a stage victory. Primoz Roglic was the first to make a move, but as he was caught Pogacar launched his sprint for the line, with Matthews reacting to the kick.

Despite a strong sprint, Pogacar’s initial jump was enough to hold off Matthews, who had to settle for an impressive second place at the end of a fierce day of racing.

Michael Matthews – 2nd Place:
“I tried, I tried everything today and in the end it was second. The team did a great job positioning me into the final and all day long. It was hard out there and in the final, I just had to believe in myself and try to fight for that victory.

"I knew the wheel to be on was Tadej's and I think it was Pidcock fighting me for the wheels I thought we were maybe at the front a little too early so I let him in, and he couldn’t follow the wheel in the final and so Tadej got a gap and I had to try and run at him, but it was too late in the end."

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“The only thing we could have done better was if Matthews was on the wheel of Pogacar into the last corner, which was the plan. Michael got a little bit squeezed going into the corner and with the acceleration of Pogacar it was just that little too much and he had to go past four of five non sprinters and had a good run at him, but you can’t give the world’s best climber a headstart with 250metres to go.

"The team rode sensationally today, as we have been doing everyday giving our leader’s every opportunity to win. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but the commitment and execution from the guys was very good today. We had some bad luck with Jack Bauer needing a bike change early on and he spent about 70km coming back, but was still there six kilometres to go to put the boys into position, so there is no doubting the commitment from the team.”

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And here’s the report from third-place David Gaudu’s Team Groupama-FDJ:

That’s quite of a start to the Tour de France for David Gaudu. After almost a week of racing, the young Frenchman still is completely in the mix, and he proved it once again in Longwy on Thursday. On the hilly final where the GC contenders put on a fight, the Groupama-FDJ leader sprinted to third place in this sixth stage, behind the winner and new yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar.

On the eve of a first mountain test at the Super Planche des Belles Filles, David Gaudu not only scored his first stage podium on the Tour, but he also moved up to tenth place overall.

David Gaudu is on the right, headed for third place. Photo: ASO/Charly Lopez

A long day was looming for the riders this Thursday on the Tour de France with the stage featuring most kilometres of this 2022 edition. Nearly 220 were indeed on the menu between the start of Binche, in Belgium, and the finish in Longwy, in East of France. However, the time passed by faster than expected during the first two hours of racing, covered at an average speed above 50 km/h.

The fight for the breakaway, which took place for nearly eighty kilometres, led to that crazy start. “It was an extremely trying, nervous stage from start to finish,” said Philippe Mauduit. Eventually, only three men were able to hit the front, including the yellow jersey Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), together with Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech) and Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo). “We didn’t know this morning if the breakaway was going to make it or not, but once we saw that there were only three riders in front, we could imagine that the victory would be decided in a reduced bunch”, added Philippe. “It was therefore an almost classic scenario, actually”.

While the bunch tried not to leave too much space to the leading trio, the instructions within the Groupama-FDJ team were just as clear as the previous days. “It was important to protect David all day, and that’s what the guys managed to do,” added Philippe. “The week has gone well so far, the team has done a huge work”, greeted David. “We know what we have to do, we are focused. Everyone does his bit and everyone helps each other. I have a great team on paper and on the road. It’s just fun and great.”

In the second half of the race, several teams took on the chase in the bunch to gradually reduce the gap, which went up to four minutes at best. The leading trio became a duo before the last hour of racing, then Van Aert tried to go alone in the last thirty kilometres. Despite being Van Aert, he could not however stay away from the bunch. He was caught and dropped in the second of the four climbs featuring in the final. The battle then began in the pack, and riders first got distance from the back before Tadej Pogacar tested his legs for the first time on the Pulventeux climb (800m at 11%). In his wheel was… David Gaudu! The Frenchman even tried a small counterattack approaching the top before thirty men or so regrouped for the finish in Longwy.

The last climb (1.6 km at 6%) was covered at a high pace, without attacks, and everything then came down to the sprint. “Everyone was tired in the final”, said David. “In the sprint everyone felt the lactic acid. I managed to take the right wheel at the right time: that of Roglic who launched as he usually does with 400 meters to go. However, there was headwind and we kind of slowed down. Only Pogacar smashed us when he launched at 250 metres”.

In a good position at the front of the pack, David Gaudu delivered a strong sprint to come away with third place on the line, behind the Slovenian and Michael Matthews. He therefore grabbed four bonus seconds. “We can be satisfied to be third on a finish like this”, assured Philippe. “There were around thirty riders at the bottom of the home stretch, which means that David is up there with the very best of the Tour de France”. “I think there is nothing to be ashamed of regarding my performance”, said the young man. “But it was just a punchy finish. Tomorrow will be even more crucial”.

Already focused on the finish at the Super Planche des Belles Filles, where he launched Thibaut Pinot back in 2019, David Gaudu still obtained his first career podium on the Tour de France. He is also now in tenth place overall, 1’02 from the yellow jersey. A good sign before the first summit finish on Friday. “We’ll need to recover, because it will be hard”, he added. “Pogacar took the jersey, he already won today, but he may still want to win tomorrow. We’ll need to be ready physically but also mentally. We’ve been focused for a week now, but we must keep going this way. Let’s hope things will go well and we will take stock tomorrow, then a new Tour de France will begin”. Towards the Vosges mountains, David Gaudu will also be able to count on Olivier Le Gac and Kevin Geniets, who crashed without damage on Thursday.

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