Tour de France 2016: Mark Cavendish outsprints Marcel Kittel to win stage six

Manxman wins third stage of 2016 Tour de France and 29th of career

Resurgent Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won stage six of the 2016 Tour de France to go clear in second place in the all-time list of stage winners with his third victory of this year’s race.

Cavendish outsprinted Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) in a high-octane finish, tucking in behind the German’s giant frame and kicking on with perfect timing.

As the two went wheel-to-wheel down the middle, fellow Brit Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) made a late charge to take third place, but Cavendish would not be denied yet another sprint victory.

Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) comfortably held on to his five-minute overall lead, meanwhile – it will be the mountains on stage seven which shake up the GC instead.

Cavendish punches the air after securing the 29th Tour de France stage win of his career. With a career tally of 47 across all three Grand Tours, Cav also finds himself just one win behind third-placed former team-mate Alessandro Petacchi in that list too (pic: Sirotti)

Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Yukiya Arashiro (Lampre-Merida) were the two riders to form the day’s break, though BMC Racing had little trouble controlling proceedings for yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet.

With a bunch sprint always expected, the American team – donning yellow helmets because they also lead the team classification after Van Avermaet’s stage five win – had plenty of support on the front of the bunch.

Etixx-QuickStep, Lotto-Soudal and Dimension Data all spent time on the front of the bunch as the gap stayed at a manageable distance.

As ever, the biggest flurry of action came at the intermediate sprint with Etixx-QuickStep leading Marcel Kittel out on the uphill drag to the line.

The German bolted too early, however, and Direct Energie’s Bryan Coquard took the kick from the peloton; Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) played little part in the sprint, however, as Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) extended his points classification lead.

Coquard’s victory at the intermediate sprint clearly buoyed the Direct Energie team too, with the French ProContinental outfit helping with the pace-setting afterwards.

A big shift from Thomas Voeckler, and Barta and Arashiro attacking each other, brought the gap down to single figures on a wide-open stretch of road before the two sat up and accepted the inevitable with 21km to go.

Van Avermaet, in the yellow jersey, was on the front himself as the peloton passed under the 10km to go banner with the pace ramping up.

Lotto-Soudal and LottoNL-Jumbo took over into the final three kilometres, and Cofidis and Katusha were also well placed going as they passed under the 2km banner.

Fabio Sabatini led the sprint out for Kittel, however, with Cavendish tucked in behind the German’s giant frame.

Cavendish also takes back the lead of the points classification. The Manxman, winner of the green jersey in 2011, may not contest the classification however, with Olympic preparation also likely to be factored in (pic: Sirotti)

Kittel kicked first, but Cavendish came round him as the two opened up a massive sprint side-by-side in the middle of the road.

And it was the Manxman who took the stage honours, his third of the race so far, with Kittel second and McLay’s late charge earning him third place – his best result of a hugely impressive Tour de France debut to date.

Tour de France 2016: stage six – result

1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data – 4.43.48hrs
2) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Etixx-QuickStep – ST
3) Dan McLay (GBR) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept
4) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
5) Christophe Laporte (FRA) – Cofidis
6) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff
7) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8) Edward Theuns (BEL) – Trek-Segafredo
9) Bryan Coquard (FRA) – Direct Energie
10) Shane Archbold (NZL) – Bora-Argon 18

General classification

1) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing – 30.18.39hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep +5.11
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +5.13
4) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +5.14
5) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +5.17
6) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Alpecin – ST
7) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar
8) Pierre Rolland (FRA) – Cannondale
9) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana
10) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep

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