Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol put nearly a bike length into Katusha's Alexander Kristoff, who slotted a distant second for the second time in three days. Samuel Dumolin (Ag2r La Mondiale) was third. The only bad news for Germany was a late race puncture suffered by Kittel (Giant-Shimano), which knocked him out of contention for another stage win.
In the race for the overall Tour title, Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and the rest of the primary GC contenders all finished on the same time. Up next is another day with sprint finish potential. But Friday's 234.5km trip from Épernay to Nancy is the second longest of the Tour and has two small climbs near the finish, which could help launch the Tour's first successful breakaway. See stage 6 results here.
STAGE 6 PHOTOS
The peloton cross a bridge during stage 6's damp 194km run from Arras to Reims. Photo by Graham Watson
Italian Vincenzo Nibali and the rest of the primary GC contenders all finished on the same time, which meant another stuffed lion for the Astana team leader. Photo by Graham Watson
Always lots of historical landmarks along the Tour de France route. Thursday's stage was no exception. Photo by Graham Watson
American Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) found himself doing a little off-roading after crashing during stage 6 of the Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
Team Sky's Xavier Zandio went down hard during Thursday's rain-soaked sixth stage. Crashing has been almost endemic in the first week of this year's Tour. This mishap ended Zandio's Tour, which now leaves his squad with just seven riders in the race. A day earlier defending Tour champ Chris Froome suffered a similar fate. Photo by Graham Watson
The Tour peloton rolls past hay fields during the trip to Reims. Photo by Graham Watson
The Giant-Shimano team did the bulk of the work pulling back the day's main break. Alas it was for naught, as top sprinter Marcel Kittel punctured late in the race and did not feature in the final dash for the finish line. Photo by Graham Watson
It was a mostly relaxed day for race leader Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana teammates. Photo by Graham Watson
Tinkoff-Saxo's Jesus Hernandez was yet another rider to hit the deck on this rain slicked day. He did not finish the stage. Photo by Graham Watson
It's been a good week for German sportsmen. Marcel Kittel went 3-for-3 in opening sprint stages of the Tour de France, the German national soccer team scalped Brazil 7-1 in a World Cup semifinal match, and Thursday the man affectionately known as the Gorilla broke through with a Tour stage win of his own. Photo by Graham Watson
Young Americans Andrew Talansky (right) and Tejay van Garderen (center) both had solid days during the chaotic stage 5 run across the cobbles of northern France. Now the Garmin-Sharp and BMC riders can look toward the mountains where they'll have a real chance of securing a spot in the final podium in Paris. Photo by Graham Watson
Team BMC's line-up of bikes ready to ride stage 6 of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
STAGE 6 GALLERY