SAN DIEGO, July 4, 2013 – It looked like a quiet day for the riders in the 2013 Tour de France, with a relatively flat Stage 6, a bit of a placeholder after the long stage on Wednesday and the team time trial the previous day, and leading into mountain stages in the Pyrenees ahead.
Because the sprinters have missed a few chances for glory, they came out and declared their independence with a competitive bunch sprint for the line. Andre Griepel of Team Lotto-Belisol put a hurt on his rivals Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan, winning his first stage and first yellow jersey of 2013.
Griepel had the benefit of a strong leadout, as Cavendish did the day before. Cavendish may also have been hurting from a crash with 22 miles to go. A touch of wheels in the peloton caught up several riders. Cavendish remounted quickly and rejoined the group within a mile, but that’s enough effort to take the edge off the energy needed to contest the sprint finish. Cav will seek his revenge on another day.
Tour history was made for South Africa today when Orica-Greenedge rider Daryl Impey took the yellow jersey from teammate Simon Gerrans and became the first South African rider to lead the Tour de France. He finished five second ahead of Gerrans for the victory.
“It’ll sink in tomorrow but I think it’s going to be amazing to ride in the Tour de France as the leader. I’m going to be on a high the whole way to the finish and hopefully I’ll feel like I’m floating,” said Impey.
“You always dream about this moment and there are many good bike riders out there who have gotten to experience it so I’m really one of the luckiest guys to get this opportunity thanks to the Orica-Greenedge boys today,” said Impey.
The Orica team hoped to give its sprinter Matthew Goss a chance to contest for the stage win. Gerrans gave up his yellow jersey in support of the lead out effort, which allowed Impey as the final lead out man to take the overall lead. “Simon gave up his opportunity to wear the yellow jersey for another day and to give it to me. That’s magical … I wouldn’t say that I stole the jersey, I like to think that we are sharing it.”
There was a brief breakaway attempt early by a lone rider, Spaniard Luis Maté of the Cofidis team. His maximum advantage for Maté was five and a half minutes. He was then reeled back in by the Orica-Greenedge team and his bit of glory was over.
No change in the specialists jerseys. Although he hasn’t won a stage, Peter Sagan wears the sprinters green jersey. Marcel Kwiatkowski stays in white as the best young rider. Pierre Rolland remains the King of the Mountains, Team Orica Greenedge is holding the team lead.
Jurgen van den Broeck of Lotto-Belisol and Maxime Bouet of AG2R La Mondiale did not start today after suffering injuries in crashes during Stage 5. Rider Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ has been ill and involved in several of the crashes on earlier stages. It caught up with him and he abandoned the race today. It’s a rider’s worst nightmare as the opportunity to ride in the Tour de France is something cyclists work for all their lives. But Bouhanni is a young rider at age 22, and he will be back.
Of the 198 riders who began the tour, 191 remain in the race.
Friday brings the third long stage in a row, 128 miles from Montpelier to Albi. It is more rolling than on the previous two days as the riders approach the Pyrenees. It’s a stage where top riders need to be careful they don’t lose time due to fatigue. If the sprinters get some help from their teams, they should contest the finish at the line.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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