Tour de France Stage 6 reaction from new leader Impey, stage winner Greipel and Sky's Froome
History made again in Montpellier as Impey becomes first representative of African nation to pull on the yellow jersey
History was made in Montpellier last month as the city hosted France’s first same-sex marriage, and it was made again today as Orica-GreenEdge’s Daryl Impey became the first South African, and the first rider representing an African country, to lead the Tour de France (the first Africa-born rider to do so was France’s Richard Virenque, born in Morocco to French parents).
The stage, which began in Aix-en-Provence, also saw Mark Cavendish crash – he battled back to finish fourth – while André Greipel picked up his first stage win of this year’s race.
Here’s some of the reaction.
Daryl Impey, who takes over the race leader’s yellow jersey from Orica-GreenEdge team mate, Simon Gerrans
The last two days we've been trying to ride the sprint for ‘Gossie' [Matt Goss] and with me being a lead-out man we knew that the possibility of me taking the yellow jersey would be quite good.
Yesterday I talked to Simon [Gerrans] after the finish and he said that he really valued the support I gave him in the first couple of days.
I think he knew what would happen today with him leading us out and he never really had a problem with it. He could have just sat on and just done his own sprint but instead he was happy enough to let the jersey go and to give me this opportunity to wear this jersey for South Africa and myself.
It'll sink in tomorrow but I think it's going to be amazing to ride in the Tour de France as the leader. I'm going to be on a high the whole way to the finish and hopefully I'll feel like I'm floating.
You always dream about this moment and there are many good bike riders out there who have gotten to experience it so I'm really one of the luckiest guys to get this opportunity thanks to the Orica-GreenEdge boys today.
Obviously we were working for Gossie [15th today] but Simon gave up his opportunity to wear the yellow jersey for another day and to give it to me. That's magical.
Simon is probably one of the most selfless riders out there. He's a great champion and he's always willing to commit to everyone around him – today was proof of that.
We were riding for Gossie today and obviously it didn't work out but with me being the final lead-out man it worked out the way it has. I wouldn't say that I stole the jersey, I like to think that we are sharing it.”
We're big fans of Orica-GreenEdge's Backstage Pass videos, and they've been worth watching this past week as the team has found itself at the centre of attention, for better or worse; today's, though, is a bit special.
André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol, whose win today takes his career total to five Tour de France stages
The whole day was a really nervous one; with the wind everybody seemed afraid that it might split. But for me the sprint a close one but the team was there for me and they supported me well for the lead-out and I think they were going pretty fast.
It's nice to hear that [Peter] Sagan thinks it was impossible for him to win again me.
Yesterday I hesitated a little bit in the sprint but today I really went for it and the team did too and of course I'm really proud to win again – the day couldn't have ended better.
I don't know if Mark Cavendish was hindered by his fall, he was there at the finish. We are hard people: even when we crash, we are still there to do our job a lot of the time.
Last year I also crashed two times near the end of a stage and I was still there for the sprint.
I think he is okay because he is sprinting. He won yesterday and I won today and I think it's good because it's our objective to win stages.
Race favourite Chris Froome, whose Sky team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen is now second overall, while Geraint Thomas continues to ride on despite a fractured pelvis
It’s been a stressful week so far, but good at the same time. On the whole we’ve come through it really well as a team and we’re sitting in a really good position now heading into the Pyrenees.
Everyone knows about Geraint’s injuries, but he’s still been pulling his weight and doing his job, even though he’s got a fractured pelvis. He’s feeling better and better each day and, at this rate, he could be with us all the way to Paris.
I’m definitely looking forward to getting into the harder climbs now. It’s been quite nerve-wracking on the flats. Everyone’s really close on the general classification and everyone’s fighting for position, but hopefully once we hit the climbs it’s going to open up a little bit more and the race will calm down a bit.
There was a lot of pushing and shoving today. I can understand the sprinters wanting a clean sprint – they don’t want GC riders in their way – but I can also see it from the GC riders’ point of view. We want to stay up there and fight for those positions if there’s the threat of losing seconds in the final like what happened today.
I’m very happy with where we are, though. We’re in a great position and I’m really pleased with the team I’ve got around me, both on and off the bike, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into next week.
[Speaking of the team’s sports director, Nicolas Portal] I respect Nico a lot. He really understands things from a riders’ perspective, having only retired from professional cycling a few years ago.
He’s a very approachable guy – he likes to get everybody’s opinions before coming up with a plan that works best for us all. I really enjoy working with him.