The longest stage in the race but no marathon. The races leaves Brittany and heads for Normandy and its woodland bocage where they grow the apples to make calvados. Note the presence of three categorised climbs, if a breakaway goes then someone has the chance to take the King of the Mountains jersey, albeit with a slender lead.
The first climb is the Côte de St Michel de Montjoie, 2.4km at 5.9% and third category. Next up comes the intermediate sprint, a long straight line… but slightly downhill. With a tailwind some sprinters might want a 55T chainring, although maybe not for the finish, more of which in a moment.
Then it’s on to the Côte du Bourg d’Ouilly, 2.7km at 5.6% and again third category. It’s worth noting the names given to these climbs, they’re from ASO and more often than not a côte is just a hill, whereas the proper mountain passes, or cols, have official names. So in this case the hill is in the village of Bourg d’Ouilly. Chances are nobody calls the road in question the Côte du Bourg d’Ouilly.
Then it’s on to the Côte du Billot, 1.3km at 6.5% with 30km to go. If there’s a breakaway up the road this could be the place where someone tries to split things up.
Like yesterday the finish is tough, technical and tactical. In fact it’s quite a lot harder than Cap Fréhel. Note the run in from 5km as displayed by the map. Several roundabouts as the race comes in to Lisieux. The notice the gradient, there’s 1.3km at 6% then a rising false flat until the road flattens out with 400m to go. 6% is a gradient capable of ruining many sprinters legs before they see the flamme rouge. It’s also the perfect launchpad for a opportunist rider, especially if there’s a moment’s hesitation when the sprint trains check to see where their sprinter has gone.
Weather: wet at times with cool temperatures of 20°C (68°) but just 15°C (59°) during the rain showers. Winds reaching 30km/h coming from the south-west but with gusts up to 55km/h later in the race. A tailwind almost all day, which can favour a breakaway.
Stage 6b: cross the finish line and there’s a two hour transfer for all the teams to their hotel near Le Mans.