Tour de France (st. 6)
Movistar Team leaders escape feared crosswinds en route to Montpellier -Rojas 7th at mass sprint- after a crash by Nairo Quintana with no serious injuries
High temperatures and speeds into the bunch -the day’s average exceeded 44 kph- surpassed the crosswinds as main wear and tear for the riders on stage six of the 2013 Tour de France. The finish did not bring any time gaps between the favourites, but did witness to a change in the lead, with Daryl Impey (OGE) taking the yellow jersey as André Greipel (LTB) won the mass sprint. José Joaquín Rojas was 7th.
The expected winds caused more than four hours of tension into the bunch, with all teams fighting for a prominent place at the front to avoid any cuts. Nervousness caused several crashes, with one of them taking Nairo Quintana down. The Colombian rider suffered a strong hit in his left knee, but got back on his bike fast and was helped by Rojas to bridge back to the peloton, covering the second part of the stage with a slight imflammation in his knee, which doesn’t jeopardize his continuity into the race.
A small gap between the main sprinters and the favourites leaves Valverde, Costa, Quintana and Amador into places 18 to 21 overall, 25 seconds behind the yellow jersey with just one stage to cover before the long-awaited Pyrenees. Friday will bring day seven on the race, with 206km between Montpellier and Albi and four rated climbs, including the Croix de Mounis (Cat-2, 94km) and the Côte de Teillet (Cat-3), about 30k from the end.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana: “It was all about surviving today – it was the hardest stage so far in this year’s Tour. Riders broke into a roundabout and I wasn’t able to avoid the rider in front of me. There was so much tension due to the win and everyone was full of nerves not to lose their position and miss any cut. I suffered a strong blow in my left knee and also a small one in my wrist, but it doesn’t seem bad at all – I hope to be recovered for the Pyrenees. It hurt quite a bit during the stage, but I knew I could continue and tried not to lose any time. It really feels like a different race – the level of the field and the tension are huge here.”