The Spin – Stage 6

Friday, 6 July 2012

The last of the sprint stages, today’s race will sweep across the champagne region of France before the fizz of the finish. Again this looks like a day for the sprinters but with the first summit finish looming tomorrow the GC contenders will try to ride in economy mode.

If it is a sprint finish the final kilometre has a dangerous narrow point followed by a sharp turn turn.

As you can see from the profile the route features more climbing on top of the 207km of racing. Nothing is steep rather plenty energy will be spent just to cover the ground. These things all add up, a compound interest rate of fatigue is applied. Today’s route is also exposed, the monoculture of vines for wine means little shelter for long stretches although this is the same when passing by fields of corn, wheat and sunflowers.

Intermediate Sprint: flat and almost straight, just a kink in the road before 1km to go and a wide road in town.

The Finish: flat, almost downhill at times. The urban finish sees some sharp turns through town, especially between 3km to go and 1km to go. See the railway line and flamme rouge? The railway goes over the road and it narrows here making a pinch-point and then just after the road hooks left, a double danger just 750m from the finish line.

Again this looks like a day for the sprinters. Yesterday had an uphill finish and André Greipel did well. It’s easy to see his big bulk and think he’s doomed once the road rises but as a junior he was German national hill climb champion – no, I’m not joking – and remember he was the only sprinter to survive Monday’s stage to Boulogne so in fact he’s well suited to that kind of finish. Today is all about positioning, being in the right place to go under the bridge and then the left turn, to have a lead out from the corner until 200m to go. We could see Cavendish get this, putting his positioning and speed to work. And don’t forget Goss, he sprinted in too big a gear yesterday and the other day his team didn’t get the lead-out right, maybe today things click into place? These three sprinters seem a level above the rest but it’s the last chance for a sprint and maybe we’ll get a wild finish and an outsider?

There’s also another race on today only you won’t see it, the race to save energy. Tomorrow sees the first summit finish and if it’s not long, it is very steep. Every bit of rest counts so the GC contenders will want to ride in economy mode today and avoid trouble.

Weather: it looks fine, a mild 20°C (68°F) but a stronger breeze of 20-30km/h. Maybe not enough to split things up and it could just give a tailwind.

TV: as usual it starts around 2.00pm Euro time with the finish expected between 5.00-5.30pm. With a sprint finish likely tune in for the last half hour.

Local rider: FDJ’s Anthony Roux was born in the area but doesn’t live here any more. But he’s won on the local roads and don’t be surprised to see him up the road. He finished second last yesterday so he might be ill… or it’s a ruse to lose time overall so he is given more room to go up the road by Radioshack.

Food: more a case of drink since the race starts in the Champagne area. It’s big business these days with the major houses buying up grape juice to make their sparkling wine. In the recent boom years consumption soared, reaching a peak in 2007 and leading to juicy margins but the fizz has dropped out of the market now. If you are hungry then the race finishes in the Lorraine region which has swapped backwards and forwards between Germany and France and where you can get a flammekueche, dough baked with cheese and bacon on top, a sort of Franco-German pizza.

Do: try the French phrase “jamais deux sans trois” or “never two without three” which implies Greipel might get a third win today.

Don’t: call it an easy stage. 207km in the legs, plus a few more between the start line and the départ réel.

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{ 13 comments }

Steppings July 6, 2012 at 9:08 am

I have to agree with something Sean kelly said in commentry yesterday, make the stages shorter and the race will be more aggressive. I love a long stage but at 207km maybe this will just be a repeat of yesterdays predictable affair.

Bundle July 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

Is there a reason to believe that a 130km flat stage will have a different outcome than a flat 200km?

Ankush July 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

shorter flat stages could bring more riders in the frame which could lead to finish line chaos. It’s debatable but I prefer long flat stages so that only the top sprinters duke it out for the win.

Bundle July 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Exactly. If anything, a short flat stage is as predictable as an average flat stage, only perhaps more dangerous. Only an uncommonly long mileage can filter the field and allow different outcomes (if you have to have absolutely flat stages).

Patrick July 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

I didn’t notice what a good prologue Rein Taaramae did, seeing him third on GC in the white jersey, if he’s time trialling well, he could cause quite a few surprises in the coming weeks.

Great win by Greipel yesterday, I hope there’s no crashes today though.

Jono July 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

Just wanted to say thanks for these previews, great info every day.

Karl July 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

Wiggo said yesterday that they risk de-training because he is doing almost no work in the peloton at times. The average speeds are low, which means we end up with everyone coming to the last 3km altogether. Usually we see the lead out trains were stretching the peloton out with 5-10km to go. None of them are really putting on the pressure, just keeping out of danger.

If it’s gonna be flat at least find roads that have corners.

I think Cav will figure more today and will aim to win this one. With a bump in the middle it is at least superficially like the Olympic course. Sagan will only win if there is a crash that takes out the other sprinters, so I’ll probably drop him for Cav. Bernie and Wiggo both sounded very happy with the way the train went yesterday so they may get it a bit better today and Cav won’t drop back too far. Think he has realised that Greipel has added some speed while he has lost a little – and has a new helmet.

I’d really like to see a bigger group break away and take the win. I thought yesterday it would happen

David July 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

If this stage is another slow one surely we are on for one of the slowest first weeks of the Tour in recent memory? Given the two hill/mountain stages at the weekend we could finish Sunday with an overall average race speed of under 40km/h.

new kid July 6, 2012 at 11:46 am

Where do you get the graphic of the run-in? Great bit of information to keep in mind as they go mental in the last 10km. BTW what is up with the official Letour site? Can’t even work out where their race tracker is!

Vitus July 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Tracker is there now, the renewed the whole site for this years race
http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2012/us/live/aso/

new kid July 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thanks Vitus, I’ve been using an old bookmark!

Vitus July 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Me too. Took some time to find the new one cause there’s no link on the old site.
After a few stages I think the new tracker is better.

Larry T. July 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Nice posts, keep up the good work. Interesting how the comments regarding the Giro sprint finishes so often seem to castigate the organizers for featuring dangerous roads with difficult run-ins…but not so much is heard when the subject is LeTour, even if the roads (and carnage) is similar. This first week has been pretty dull, making me once again wonder just how come this race is considered by so many the best/most challenging/exciting…etc.? But of course I’m biased as hell. Other than the soap-opera regarding the former friends of BigTex and what they said (or didn’t) TdF week one has been typically dull. I hope to see some change on GC after tomorrow’s stage…let’s get Le Beeg Shew started!

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