Greipel sprints to victory in crash-blighted 6th stage
Andre Greipel believes he answered his critics after extending Germany's Tour de France sprint supremacy with victory in Champagne country yesterday.
The 194km sixth stage from Arras to Reims took place on wet roads, with crashes accounting for a number of riders.
The Giant-Shimano team of Marcel Kittel were conspicuous by their absence in the closing stages until it emerged the winner of stages one, three and four had a problem and would not contend the sprint.
It was Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) who benefitted, the German champion finishing arms aloft for his sixth ever Tour stage win.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was second, with Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) third, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished safely in the pack to retain the race leader's yellow jersey.
Greipel said: "I felt a lot of pressure after the first few stages but finally we have a victory. It's a good answer to the critics.
"My confidence was always there. We stayed calm and did really good work. My team-mates and myself, we deserve this win."
After a chaotic and epic day over the cobbles of stage five which accounted for defending champion Chris Froome, there were further crashes yesterday.
Team Sky's problems continued as Spaniard Xabier Zandio joined Froome in exiting the Tour with a suspected broken collarbone.
Froome abandoned on Wednesday after the pain caused by three crashes in two days, with Zandio following after being caught up in a crash after 79km.
It means Richie Porte, who inherited the leadership of Team Sky from Froome, now has just six team-mates to call upon.