With three categorized climbs, some serious rain, and a dangerous finish with turns and hills, Stage 6 of the 2011 Tour de France did not end up being one for the pure sprinters, despite the efforts of the sprinters' teams to set up their men for the win. An early breakaway held on for the majority of the race, while some attacks at the end foiled the pure sprinters. In the end, the best ride was put in by Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Sky, as he bested Thor Hushovd, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Phillipe Gilbert, and others for the win.
Adriano Malori was the most notable of the breakaway members, as he survived the longest. Five men attacked to start the day, but Malori was the lone survivor at the very end. He put in a fantastic ride, but was eventually caught by the peloton with three kilometers to go.
At that point, the lead-out started with team HTC-Highroad pushing the pace at the front in an attempt to set up Mark Cavendish for the win. Their plan was foiled by the nature of the finish and some attacks, though, with Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck launching the first attack after Malori was caught. Thomas Voeckler launched an attack and passed him, but both were caught by the pack with one kilometer remaining.
Alexander Vinokourov attacked as well, to the surprise of no one, but he was also quickly matched by the rest of the pack. The sprint featured more of the all-around and stage riders like Hushovd and Gilbert than it did pure sprinters, and Hagen was the man who prevailed at the end. He's put in some great performances in his career, winning the Norwegian national championship five years in a row and winning a stage at the Giro d'Italia, but this stage win will almost certainly be the biggest win of his career.
In the green jersey race, Rojas did very well to finish inside of the top ten and keep pace in the green jersey race and make a dent in Gilbert's lead, but Gilbert finished close enough to Rojas to keep the green jersey on his shoulders.
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