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(Reuters) - Peter Sagan sealed the first week of his maiden Tour de France with his third stage victory in a crash-ridden 207.5-km sixth stage which seriously hurt the chances of some leading favorites.

The 22-year-old Slovak outpaced the leading part of a scattered bunch to achieve a spectacular treble ahead of Germany'sAndre Greipel, the winner of the two previous stages and one of many riders to hit the tarmac between Epernay and Metz.

Australian Matthew Goss took third while Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who also avoided the worst pile-up of the day, retained his overall leader's yellow jersey.

"I won five in California, four in Switzerland, now three in France. I didn't expect to win that many stages in my first Tour but why stop now?" said Sagan, who went tumbling to the tarmac in the previous stage.

"I was lucky to be unhurt. In stages like this, everybody wants to be in the front and it causes unnecessary crashes," he told reporters.

Some Tour contenders were not so lucky and three riders, American Tom Danielson, Italy'sDavide Vigano and Spain's Mikel Astarloza were forced to bid farewell to the race.

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Stage 6 Results
1. Peter Sagan - Liquigas-Cannondale - 4:37:00
2. André Greipel - Lotto Belisol Team
3. Matthew Harley Goss - Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4. Kenny Robert Van Hummel - Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5. Juan José Haedo - Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
6. Greg Henderson - Lotto Belisol Team
7. Alessandro Petacchi - Lampre - ISD
8. Luca Paolini - Katusha Team
9. Daryl Impey - Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
10. Brett Lancaster - Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team - 0:00:04

General classification after Stage 6
1. Fabian Cancellara - RadioShack-Nissan - 29:22:36
2. Bradley Wiggins - Sky Procycling - 0:00:07
3. Sylvain Chavanel - Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tejay van Garderen - BMC Racing Team - 0:00:10
5. Denis Menchov - Katusha Team - 0:00:13
6. Cadel Evans - BMC Racing Team - 0:00:17
7. Vincenzo Nibali - Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:18
8. Peter Sagan - Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:19
9. Andreas Klöden - RadioShack-Nissan
10. Maxime Monfort - RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:22

Full results here..

Peter Sagan's Cannondale bell, it'll be an option on all 2013 Cannondale Evos.

Jersey Standings:
Fabian Cancellara
Peter Sagan
Michael Morkov
Tejay Van Garderen

Links to news sites...

"Sagan stuns Greipel as crashes exact toll on peloton
By Justin Davis (AFP)

METZ, France - Slovakian champion Peter Sagan claimed his third Tour de France victory from the sixth stage Friday as a number of yellow jersey contenders narrowly escaped crashing out of the race.

A total of three accidents took place on the 207.5 km ride from Epernay to Metz, where race debutant Sagan powered past flagging German Andre Greipel of Lotto in the final metres to add to his wins on the first and third stages.

"I'm very happy to have won today. Yesterday I was a little unlucky, today I was lucky," said Sagan, who failed to contend Thursday's sprint after he was caught up in a crash around 3 km from the line.

"Everything went well. I decided to take Greipel's wheel because I knew that if I did that no one would be able to pass me."
It was a reduced peloton, however, that rode into the 700 metre home straight after the day's biggest crash, around 26 km from the finish, delayed dozens of riders and led to at least three abandons.

And hours after the race the casualty/retirement list was growing with Dutchman Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil), American Tom Danielson (Garmin), Italian Davide Vigano (Lampre), Spaniard Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) and Belgian Maarten Wynants of Rabobank all retiring through injury." Read more from AFP...

"Sagan completes hat-trick of wins after "scary" pile-up causes Tour chaos

(CNN) -- Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan made it a hat-trick of stage wins on his debut in the Tour de France as he sprinted to victory in Metz Friday.

The 22-year-old Sagan has extended his lead in the battle for the green points jersey after denying German Andre Greipel his third straight stage win.

But the 210-km sixth stage from Eperney was marred by a mass pile-up 26km from the finish which claimed a number of contenders for overall honors.

Race leader Fabian Cancellara, favorite Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans avoided the crash.

But Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda) and RadioShack star Frank Schleck all but saw their hopes ended along with French favorite Thomas Voeckler and Dutchman Robert Gesink." Read more from CNN International...

Photos by CorVos

Tomorrow's Stage 7 Route -

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