Dempster escapes injury after crash

A MINOR crash at the end of stage six didn't stop Bendigo's Zak Dempster from climbing 14 places in general classification of the Tour de France.

Zak Dempster

Zak Dempster

It was Dempster's second crash of the race, but unlike defending champion Chris Froome, the Bendigo rider escaped injury.

"Crash numero duex today. A lovely somersault into the grass. Lots of crashes happen in the crash zone. Which is from position 10-189,'' Dempster tweeted after the stage.

Dempster was given the same time for the 194km stage as the lead group of 69 riders.

He moved from 131st to 117th in the overall standings.

The stage was won by sprint specialist Andre Greipel.

The German champion collected his sixth career Tour stage victory in Champagne country and the celebrated capital of many French kings by outpacing Norway's Alexander Kristoff in second and France's Samuel Dumoulin in third.

At the end of the 194km ride from Arras to Reims, Greipel 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 close to the finish line.

"I had really good punch today, I am really happy," said Greipel, the Lotto Belisol rider 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 of the standings didn't change, as most of the contenders for victory in the three-week race trailed close behind the muscular Greipel.

He was 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.

Overall, Nibali has a two-second lead over teammate Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark while Peter Sagan of Slovakia is third, 44 seconds back.

Two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador, a day after losing about two-and-a-half minutesto Nibali, was dealt another setback with his Saxo-Tinkoff teammate Jesus Hernandez dropped out after a crash.

Among other possible contenders, Richie Porte was one minute, 54 seconds back, in eighth place.

The Australian inherited the leadership of Team Sky after injured defending champion Chris Froome dropped out on Wednesday following two crashes in a rain-splattered ride.

Porte, too, lost a teammate when Spanish veteran Xabier Zandio was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital with a suspected rib fracture and severe back injury in a group spill with about 79km left, according to the race medical report.

It listed a total of 14 riders with varying injuries from "two big crashes."

"It was such a stressful day - horrible actually," Porte said.

"The guys were around me all day, and while we lost Xabi Zandio to the crash, the rest of us kept out of trouble and we live to fight another day."


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