Reims, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Andre Greipel of Germany won Stage 6 of the Tour de France and Italy's Vincenzo Nibali remained the overall leader of cycling's most prestigious race.
Greipel won a sprint to the finish on Thursday, finishing the 194-kilometer trek from Arras to Reims in a time of 4 hours, 11 minutes and 39 seconds for his sixth career Tour de France stage win. He also won Stage 6 last year.
"That was hard, especially in the last 30 kilometers with the side wind," said Greipel. "It was a tough race."
Nibali, who has owned the coveted leader's yellow jersey since Stage 2, was placed 18th on Thursday with the same time as the stage winner. He has an overall lead of two seconds on Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang, who was 15th in Thursday's stage.
"I still want to take it day-by-day and keep my feet on the ground," said Nibali.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia is 44 seconds behind in third place overall. He was fifth on Thursday.
Former champion Alberto Contador of Spain is 18th overall, 2:37 off the lead pace.
Rain was a factor on the mostly flat ride on Thursday and a few crashes occurred during the stage. Team Sky lost defending champion Chris Froome on Wednesday because of a wrist injury and teammate Xavier Zandio went down with just under 80 kilometers left on Thursday and was forced out of the event.
Marcel Kittel, the German sprinter who won three of the first four stages this year, had a tire puncture in the last few kilometers and was not a factor on Thursday.
Instead, Michal Kwiatkowski tried to pull away with about one kilometer left. He was quickly swallowed up by the pack before Greipel made his move toward the front and was not caught.
"Fortunately, we stayed together and I found a good wheel in following Mark Renshaw," noted Greipel. "I went full gas with 350 meters to go. It was pretty early, but I thought whatever happens is fine as long as I give everything."
Kwiatkowski was placed 38th and was one of 69 riders credited with the same time as the stage winner. Kittel was 84th, 54 seconds behind.
Stage 7 on Friday features a ride of 234.5 kilometers from Epernay to Nancy. It's mainly flat until a pair of Category 4 climbs near the end.