Andre Greipel sprinted to victory on stage six of the Tour de France to claim his first win of the 2014 race.
Greipel outsprinted Alexander Kristoff and Samuel Dumoulin to take the win on a day which saw more crashes due to bad weather conditions.
Xabier Zandio, Jesus Hernandez and Egor Silin all had to abandon the race due to their injuries, adding to the casualties of stage five.
After some strong winds on the course, the peloton split but most of the main general classification contenders were in the first group.
Vincenzo Nibali finished safely within the first group to hold onto the yellow jersey for another day, and new Team Sky leader Richie Porte crossed the line in the same group as the Italian.
Greipel was too strong at the end and fellow German Marcel Kittel did not feature in the sprint as he failed to keep in contact with the winning group of riders.
This was Lotto Belisol's first stage win at the Tour this year and Greipel admits the team were relieved to get the result.
According to Sky Sports, the 31-year-old said: “At the end there was not a leadout train, but with all the roundabouts it was not easy to stay together. With 250m to go I said to myself, 'I go full now’.
“I’m really happy that I got the stage win. There was a lot of pressure on us and finally we have it. Whoever was doubting Lotto Belisol got a good answer today.”
Omega Pharma-Quickstep were right at the front going into the sprint so they could set up Mark Renshaw and it is clear that although he is a good sprinter, he may struggle to keep up with the likes of Greipel and Kittel. Mark Cavendish may have got the win if he was still racing.
Stage six result
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol, 4:11:39
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, same time
3 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
4 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st
6 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement, st
7 Tom Veelers (Ned) Giant-Shimano, st
8 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
9 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin, st
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling, st
1 Vincenzo Niabli (Ita) Astana, 24:38:25
2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, +2secs
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, +44
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +50
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing, +1:17
6 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, +1:45
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol, same time
8 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +1:54
9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +2:05
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +2:11
18 Alberto Contador (Spa) +2:37
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