• Stage 6 of the Tour de France came down to another head-to-head finish (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) showed again that he is the fastest man at this year's Tour, this time in emphatic fashion as he went toe-to-toe with German powerhouse Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep), convincingly winning the duel and his third stage of the Tour.
By
Cycling Central

8 Jul 2016 - 2:27 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 5:56 AM

It was the Manxman that was the first past the line in Montauban after the 190.5km Stage 6 of the Tour de France. After taking his previous wins in a more controlled fashion, the sprint finish on this occasion was chaotic, with seemingly all organisation being lost in the final kilometre of the race.

It ended with Cavendish beating Kittel in the dash to the line, silencing many that thought that the German held the edge on speed over his British rival. Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) was third.

Cavendish now has 29 Tour de France stage wins to his name. The only rider to have more wins under his belt is Eddy Merckx with 34.

Stage 6 Winners
Mark CAVENDISH
Mark
CAVENDISH
Jasper PHILIPSEN
Jasper
PHILIPSEN
Nacer BOUHANNI
Nacer
BOUHANNI
Greg VAN AVERMAET
Greg
VAN AVERMAET

The early break of Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Yukiya Arashiro (Lampre-Merida) was let go easily and reached a maximum advantage of five minutes and 20 seconds midway through the stage. The sprinter's teams shared the workload of the chase, with BMC also contributing to represent the race leader's yellow jersey of Greg van Avermaet. Dimension Data's Daniel Teklehaminot was particularly prominent on the front as he worked to bring the escaped duo back into the fold. 

The stage settled into a steady rhythm with the scenery and photo opportunities coming to the fore as the riders kept to a mediocre pace through the French countryside.

On the main climb of the day, the category 3 Côte de Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, Direct Energie attempted to fire up the race and hurt the legs of the pure sprinters. That accelerated the main bunch and the early breakaway was caught soon after with just over 20 kilometres remaining in the race. The sprint trains then formed up to try and guide their chosen fast man to the line.

A number of teams tried to stamp their authority on the sprin, but the high pace eliminated most of the helpers and it ended up being a late surge from Fabio Sabatini of Etixx-QuickStep that dragged his team-mate Kittel into a spot where he could launch the sprint. 

Cavendish started the sprint just off the big German and the pair engaged in a pure drag race to the line from there, with Olympics-bound Cavendish emerging victorious.

"It was terrifying, that was like the old days just wheel surfing," said Cavendish. "It was just carnage in the final, twisting and turning. I wanted Kittel's wheel, I was fighting and fighting for Kittel's wheel. I knew that QuickStep... they weren't that organised but I knew they'd get it."

"On the final, the long, fast run-in I knew it would be right to go early. I just went, actually I maxed out, I should have had a bigger gear on. I kept going to the line, I really wanted it. I felt Kittel coming on my side there, just doing what he's done to me for the last few years, I just held him out of it. I'm very happy with that."

McClay continued his strong debut Tour with third on the stage, while green jersey wearer Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) finished sixth and ceded the points classification lead to Cavendish. 

Greg van Avermaet (BMC) retained the race lead and there was no drama in the general classification battle with nobody of significance losing major time to their rivals.

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