The Spin: Paris-Nice Stage 6

Friday, 9 March 2012

Today’s route is very scenic and passes tourist destinations, restaurants and vineyards. There’s no time for riders to stop but perhaps some will have a rest today.

The start is in Suze, a town with its own university dedicated to wine and viticulture. The race heads east and passes below Mont Ventoux. The giant mountain bullies the skyline with its presence but the race only takes the Côte du Pas de Ventoux, the “step of Ventoux” climb. There are mountains and cols all around but the race avoids these, instead sticking to scenic river valleys that wind along canyons.

It’s ideal terrain for a breakaway to finally succeed, especially if the riders are no threat on the overall. There’s 1.21 between Bradley Wiggins and Robert Kiserlovski in tenth place but there are over 100 riders over ten minutes down and if they go up the road it’s good for everyone. Alejandro Valverde must still want the time bonuses but the finish is too flat for him.

Paris-Nice Stage 6

The finish: there’s a finishing circuit. The riders will pass the line in Sisteron and head out for a 19km loop which includes a small climb, 1.3km at 6.8% but it is 12km from the finish and if someone wants to use it as a launch ramp for the finish line they’ll need to be able to time trial to the finish. The last kilometre is flat.

It’s a good day for a classics specialist to test their form but many riders will fancy their chances today. It could still come down to a bunch sprint but the final climb has probably been added to deter this. That said, the final climb has an air of the Poggio about it, any sprinter who survives this climb is ready for Milan-Sanremo. Watch Tom Boonen today.

Transfer: everyone on the race faced a long transfer after yesterday’s stage, made harder by the need to traverse tough terrain rather than take the excellent autoroutes. Race organisers ASO laid on some nice hotels – Radioshack and Euskaltel even stayed in a swanky castle – but many took over fours to get there. Nobody likes this and it’ll be a feature of the Tour de France which includes several very long transfers. Not everyone got a luxury room last night. Here’s J-J Rojas demonstrating the shower next to his bed, via twitter:

Rojas

Ensuite bathroom

Weather: warming up, we’re only a day away from Nice and the temperatures will reach 13°C under sunny skies. There will be crosswinds at the start. The area around Ventoux is notoriously windy – one stat I’ve seen says it blows at over 80km/h for at least 200 days of the year – but the riders will find shelter in the valleys.

TV: 3.00pm – 4.30pm Euro time.

Hungry? Whilst côte is a term used to describe a hill in France, the early part of the stage is Côtes du Rhône, as in red wine. The race passes other wine-producing areas and lamb is a local dish near the finish in Sisteron.

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{ 13 comments }

Greeny March 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

This is one of those days I wish there was 100% TV coverage, just to look at the scenery! Lovely part of France, this…

Ablindeye March 9, 2012 at 10:00 am

Surely one for a breakaway given yesterdays efforts both on the bike and getting to their hotels afterwards. Maybe a few of the sprinters teams will be determined or someone within a few minutes on GC will inexplicably get in the break and therefore sabotage it but I doubt it today.

Ablindeye March 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

@ Greeny that sounds like relaxing viewing! Actually talking of 100% coverage one thing I like about Tour of Britain TV coverage (highlights) is how they show the break of the day forming with attack and counter attack as well as sprints for KOM points etc. With coverage of races generally being the last hour or so you usually miss that action which can be just as interesting as anything else happening on a stage.

JP March 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

I was near the start last summer and can only confirm the good roads for cycling.

What about Hushovd today?

Ankush March 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Picking up a clear winner for this stage is difficult, but how about Haussler/Vanmarcke?

Owen March 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

I do believe Sisteron is on the Route Napoleon, a great motorcycling road, if you like that kind of thing.
It is a stunning area, kind of sub-Alpine.
By the way, the quality & approachability of those cheaper Côte du Rhone wines is improving.

Bundle March 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

Thank you, Inrng, for the nice preview. Knowing the area a little, I would like to add this (beyond my disappointment at ASO for having skipped the real mountains in the area, that would have guaranteed us real action):
1) If you’re going to have a circuit around the town, the left bank of the Durance is much more interesting. The Entrepierres area is great for cycling, and a bit steeper. Ideal for ambushes. And they aslo chose the widest, flattest street in a hilly town for the finish. Says everything.
2) Gastronomy: look for “Pieds et Paquets de Sisteron” (mutton trotters and tripes, sounds disgusting, but it’s very good).
3) Movistar will again try to eliminate as many as possible in the last côte. If not for Valverde, certainly for Rojas, who is always second (or fifth), and might as well win for once.

Bundle March 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

Thank you, Inrng, for the nice preview. Knowing the area a little, I would like to add this (beyond my disappointment at ASO for skipping the real mountains in the area, that would have guaranteed us some real action):
1) If you are going to have a circuit around Sisteron, the left bank of the Durance is much more interesting. The road to Entrepierres makes for excellent cycling, is a little steeper, and ideal for ambushes. And they also chose the widest, flattest street in this hilly, scenic town, for the finish. Says everything.
2) Gastronomy: look for “Pieds et Paquets de Sisteron” (mutton trotters and tripes in tomato and wine, sounds disgusting, but it’s actually quite good).
3) Movistar will again try to eliminate as many as possible on the last “côte”, if not for Valverde, certainly for Rojas, who is always second (or fifth), and might as well try to win something for once.

Bundle March 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

Sorry for the double (please delete)

Ablindeye March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Case in point for earlier TV coverage – split bunch on an early climb with Valverde caught out! Surely it’ll come back together otherwise this potentially easier day will become one hell of a grind!

Larry T. March 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Funny hotel photo! I’m old enough to remember checking out the digs the riders stayed in back in 1989 after one tough stage in the Pyrenees. It was some sort of school with a huge dorm room. We could only imagine how tough it would be to sleep in this huge room, no A/C and dozens of tired riders snoring away. They had the gang handwashing stands and everything! Some of the more current places are not so great, I believe they still put riders up in those awful, cheap places right on the edge of the autoroutes from time to time, alternating with the swanky castles.

Wielsucker March 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

Easy now, just because Jens makes masters racers and wanabee’s hearts go pitter-patter, doesn’t make Sanchez an anti hero. Jens is usually long on guts & heart and short on tactics anyway and the only thing he can’t do is sprint. Sanchez has always been a very classy rider with a good finish. I’d sit on Jen’s wheel all day if he’s giving it away…. if I could…. but then I am known as the Wielsucker for good reason..

Dennis Fernandez March 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm

France and Italy must be the two most beautiful places on earth. Though the bike racing has been fantastic, the scenery has also been stunning. Over in Italy, on the Tirreno-Adriatico ride, the scenery has been nearly as good, though the race, as good as it is, doesn’t match up–IMO, of course!

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