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Tour de France stage 6: Greipel sprints to victory

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Tour de France stage 6: Greipel sprints to victory
Andre Greipel's win means Germans are dominating the 2014 Tour de France with four sage wins out of five. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP
17:31 CEST+02:00
German Andre Greipel sprinted to victory in stage six of the Tour de France on Thursday on a poignant day in which riders snaked their way through World War One battlefields in northern France.

Andre Greipel returned to form in style by sprinting to victory in Thursday's sixth stage of the Tour de France.

The German continued his country's impressive Tour form by winning the 194km stage from Arras to Reims.

Compatriot Marcel Kittel had won three of the first four stages.

Norway's Alexander Kristoff was second with Samuel Dumoulin of France third.

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali kept hold of the yellow jersey as he and the rest of the overall contenders finished safely in a reduced peloton.

An early four-man breakaway failed to ignite a stage that had a sense of anti-climax following the drama of Wednesday's cobbled stage.

Things only got heated in the final 10km, after the escapees had been caught, when the pace rose and crosswinds contributed to a split in the peloton.

French champion Arnaud Demare was caught out, as well as his compatriot Thibaut Pinot, the top French hope in the general classification.

Having dominated the three previous sprints for stage wins, Kittel seemed to be suffering the effects of a fall on Wednesday while his team were strangely missing from the front of the peloton.

Before the final kilometre he had dropped out of the reckoning.

Without Kittel it was anyone's sprint to win but Greipel, hitherto out of sorts in the sprints, powered through to win his sixth Tour stage.

Stage 6 preview: Thursday's sixth stage takes the riders over 194km from Arras to Reims.

It is set to be a poignant day as it will include commemorations to remember those who died during World War I.

The day's course rides past several famous WWI battlefields, including the Chemin des Dames.

French president François Hollande is due to visit the Tour as it passes that point.

The roadside has also been planted with blue cornflowers especially for the occasion.

The blue cornflower has come to be regarded as the symbol of French WWI infantrymen, known as 'Poilus' (hairy ones) for their youth, virility and courage.

As a mark of remembrance, the white jersey worn by the best young rider in the peloton will, especially for the occasion, be emblazoned with a blue cornflower.

The peloton will pay tribute to former riders who died during the Great War, including three winners, Luxemburger François Faber and Frenchmen Octave Lapize and Lucien Petit-Breton.

Faber, a Francophile, had joined the French Foreign Legion and was killed on the front line on May 9th, 1915, tragically just a day after he found out about the birth of his daughter.

Lapize died in an aerial battle on July 14th, 1917, while Petit-Breton was killed in a car accident while on a mission.

It is part of around 2,000 commemorative events planned in France over the next four years to mark the centenary of World War I (1914-18).

Here's a video preview of stage 6

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