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Roche rises to 15th as carnage wipes out Tour contenders

Posted 06 July 2012

Nicolas Roche has profited from a day of carnage on stage five of the Tour de France climbing seven places to 15th in the GC where he remains 25 seconds off the race lead.
Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) was fortunate to avoid a huge crash just 26 kilometres from the finish in Metz which wiped out half the peloton along with the prospects of a handful of the race’s biggest GC contenders.
He finished just four seconds behind Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) who extended his lead in the points classification with a breathtaking stage win after a sprint finish from a lead group of sixty riders.
While that group included race leader Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma Quickstep) the roll-call of who was missing will provide the real talking point ahead of the first mountain stage.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC), Vinenczo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) were also among the lucky ones to make the cut but the race is over for Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
The Canadian crossed the line over 13’24” minutes down along with 40 others riders who included teammates Dan Martin, David Millar and Christian Vande Velde while Johan Summeren brought up the rear at 16’12” after Tom Danielson was forced to abandon.
Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) managed to confine his losses to 2’09” in the company of big French hope Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Alejandro Valverde (Moviestar) as part of a group of 26 riders who face an enormous uphill struggle after conceding such massive time losses so early in the race.
Dutch hope Robert Gesink (Rabobank) struggled to stay with the Schleck group after crashing three times during the stage and eventually crossed the line 3’31 down.
The 205 kilometre flat stage from Epernay had been going to script up to the crash as Davide Malacarne (Europcar), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) and Karsten Kroon (Saxo-Bank) formed the day’s break.
They were almost six minutes up by the time a crash took down some twenty riders including Gesink, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Sandy Casar (FDJ) and Jean Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) after 35 kilometres.
Their lead peaked at 6’50” after 78 kilometres but had seriously unraveled by the fourth category climb of the Cote de Bruxieres after 145 kilometres.

Another spill near the top of the climb left Gesink and Greipel the worst for wear but they succeeded in regaining contact before disaster struck the peloton as the sprinters geared up to bring back the break.
The carnage that unfolded helped the break to succeed until the final three kilometres and a last gasp by Zabriskie was not enough to hold off Sagan whose third stage win came after a spectacular sprint in which he outclassed Greipel and Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge).
Roche’s GC prospects have improved dramatically with the elimination of some of his big rivals and at 25 seconds he is perfectly placed as the race heads into two mountain stages.
The same could be said of Martin, despite his misfortune. He has set his sights on winning a mountain stage and claiming the mountains classification and with accumulated losses of 18’48” he will be give plenty of leeway to put himself in a break.
Tour de France
Stage 6: Epernay – Metz, 205 kilometres
1.  Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 4:37:00
2.  André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
3.  Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4.  Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5.  Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
6.  Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team
7.  Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
8.  Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
9.  Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
10.  Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:00:04
20 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 4 seconds
176. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 13 minutes, 24 seconds
General classification after stage 6:
1.  Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 29:22:36
2.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4.  Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
5.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:13
6.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
7.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:18
8.  Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:19
9.  Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
10.  Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:22
15. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 25 seconds
143. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 18 minutes, 48 seconds

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