The big mountain stage that’s just 133km, today’s stage has a succession of climbs leading to the long slog up to the ski resort of Pipay.
Stage 6 Review: when the world’s number one ranked rider Julian Alaphilippe attacked and took Alessandro de Marchi and Gregor Mühlberger for company you’d imagine plenty of other teams would be interested, especially as Team Ineos aren’t going to be chasing all day. But they missed it leaving the trio to ride away and contest the stage. Alaphilippe’s victory looked almost inevitable but his attacks on the final climb couldn’t shake his rivals, Mühlberger’s responses were more potent and dropped de Marchi. In the end it was Alaphilippe who was more photogenic for the finish line camera.
The Route: just 133km and first via the Col de l’Epine, this is Ag2r La Mondiale country with the team’s HQ just off the descent and then a ride around Chambéry where their successful development team is based. Then it’s over the Col du Granier, listed as 12.8km at 5.8% which makes it sound easy but it’s got some much steeper sections early on and mid-way. There’s a descent to the valley and rather than staying down the race takes the Col de Marcieu, a scenic balcony road up the side of the valley that’s 10km at 6% and chased by a steep descent to the valley floor.
The Finish: a long climb, 19km with 1,270m of vertical gain. For the most part it’s a steady ascension on a wide road, this isn’t the place for brutal attacks but for gradual attrition.
The Contenders: Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is in yellow and in this case defence is the best form of attack as he can aim to manage his rivals and should they waste energy the stage win is his.
We saw yesterday Ineos doing what they do with Michał Kwiatkowski towing the peloton all the way to the line. It’s likely they’ll do the same today to set up Wout Poels who often plays sidekick but is now thrust into the limelight.
A wet day, a long steady climb to the finish? This should be Thibaut Pinot‘s day but word is he’s caught a cold but still he could be close, the same for Groupama-FDJ team mate David Gaudu. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also thrives on these long climbs.
Michael Woods (EF Education First) lost a lot of time in the time trial so if he jumps nobody has to react instantly, much like Dan Martin a year ago, but the long slog uphill isn’t his cup of tea.
The breakaway has a slim chance today given the big teams will try to set up their leaders for the win. But the short distance could encourage an early scrap to go clear. Lottery-number picks would be Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)
who deliberately eased up yesterday won’t start today and Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) who still hasn’t won anything since his golden 2017 Tour but is improving and both have a chance out of a breakaway.
|Nairo Quintana, Adam Yates|
|Jacob Fuglsang, Thibaut Pinot, Wout Poels|
|Woods, Buchmann, Kruijswijk, Gaudu, Bardet, Lambrecht|
Weather: a mixture of sunshine and rain, 24°C in the valleys
TV: because of a schedule clash with the Le Mans automobile race there’s only an hour of live today starting at 4.00pm and the finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST / Euro time.