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Greipel returns to form in sixth stage Tour de France sprint finish

Nicolas Roche was unable to make back the time he lost after a crash yesterday.

Greipel secured the sixth tour stage victory of his career.
Greipel secured the sixth tour stage victory of his career.
Image: Peter Dejong

ANDRE GREIPEL RETURNED to form in style by sprinting to victory in today’s sixth stage of the Tour de France, his first success in 2014.

The Lotto-Belisol rider continued Germany’s impressive Tour form by winning the 194km stage from Arras to Reims, following compatriot Marcel Kittel’s success on three of the first four stages.

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali of Astana retained the yellow jersey as he and the rest of the overall contenders, including Alberto Contador, finished safely in a reduced peloton.

Irishman Nicolas Roche, riding for Tinkoff-Saxo, was unable to make up for the time lost after a crash yesterday, and is now ranked 55th, 15 minutes and 15 seconds behind Nibali in the general classifications.

An early four-man breakaway failed to ignite a stage that had a sense of anti-climax following the drama of Wednesday’s cobbled stage.

Things only got heated in the final 10km, after the escapees had been caught, when the pace rose and crosswinds contributed to a split in the peloton.

French champion Arnaud Demare was caught out, as well as his compatriot Thibaut Pinot, the top French hope in the general classification.

Having dominated the three previous sprints for stage wins, Kittel seemed to be suffering the effects of a fall on Wednesday while his team were strangely missing from the front of the peloton.

Cycling Tour de France Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, passes over a bridge at the front of the peloton. Source: Christophe Ena

A puncture before the final kilometre saw him drop out of the reckoning.

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Without Kittel, it was anyone’s sprint to win but Greipel, hitherto out of sorts in the sprints, powered through to win his sixth Tour stage.

There were two sprints where I couldn’t compete for different reasons but today I was really motivated and focussed to have a good position for the sprint. I’m really happy the pressure’s off for the stage win,” said the 31-year-old, who took his total tally to six Tour stage wins.

“Of course, it’s a big relief for us (Lotto-Belisol), there was a lot of pressure on our shoulders because we worked really hard this week but for different reasons it didn’t work out.”

Tomorrow’s seventh stage is a 234.5km marathon stretch from Éparnay to Nancy.

- © AFP, 2014

- Additional reporting by TheScore.ie

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