Joy of six for Greipel as Nibali holds lead
ANDRE GREIPEL of Germany won the sixth stage of the Tour de France in a sprint as the pack entered Champagne country, and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy retained the yellow jersey.
The German champion (pictured) collected his sixth career Tour stage victory by outpacing Norway's Alexander Kristoff in second and France's Samuel Dumoulin in third at the end of the 194-kilometre (120-mile) ride from Arras to Reims.
The Lotto Belisol rider burst out of the pack with less than 300 metres left, and clenched his fists, shouting, at the finish. His job was made a bit easier because Marcel Kittel, a fellow German who has won three stages and dominated the sprint finishes, got a flat tyre right before the end.
Nicolas Roche of Ireland lies 55th overall for the Tinkoff-Saxo team, 15mins 15secs off the lead.
"I had really good punch today, I am really happy," said Greipel, who turns 32 next Wednesday. "Of course I'm not looking at Kittel. I don't need to hide. I am still one of the fastest in the bunch.
"There was a lot of pressure on us, on my shoulders," for a win, he added. "It's a big relief for us."
The top standings didn't change, as most of the contenders for victory in the three-week race trailed close behind the muscular Greipel.
He's not a challenger for the overall title; like many sprinters, he does not fare well on the climbs that are crucial to winning in Paris. He's nearly 35 minutes behind Nibali.
Overall, Nibali has a two-second lead over team-mate Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark. Peter Sagan of Slovakia was third, 44 seconds back.
Among other possible contenders, Team Sky's Richie Porte of Australia was 1 minute, 54 seconds back in eighth place.
American Andrew Talansky, winner of the Criterium du Dauphine last month, was ninth 2:05 back. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde was 10th, 2:11 back, and compatriot Contador was in 18th, 2:37 behind.
The Tour had another mostly flat Stage 7, a 234.5-kilometre (146-mile) trek from Epernay to Nancy - the second longest stage - today.