Another sprint stage, the last before two stages in the Jura mountains. The sprinters will dream of the finish today and fear what lies ahead this weekend.
Stage 6 Review: a sprint finish and Marcel Kittel was the fastest. He seemed to hang back before surging in the final 150 metres to win. There’s now a clear sprint hierarchy with Arnaud Démare second and then André Greipel and Alexander Kristoff on the next tier, then Nacer Bouhanni, then the rest. But it’s not fixed, we should see the same order today but it’ll change after the mountains where Kittel notably has often had problems.
More action happened outside of the race. Bora-Hansgrohe had made an appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) to reinstate Peter Sagan. Note this was initially an expedited process, the CAS can hold instant hearings sometimes but there wasn’t time to activate this. Besides the UCI rules are sufficiently vague to enable the commissaires to eject a rider without falling foul of a tribunal. But sport can’t exist in a bubble, the decisions taken have commercial ramifications and not giving participants a hearing runs contrary to fundamental tenets of justice. A subject for another day.
The Route: a gourmet stage. No chance for the riders to enjoy the local produce but there’s fine wine, cheese, mustard and more along the route. Otherwise there’s nothing of great strategic interest, more rolling roads as the race heads south. The Côte d’Urcy is gentle, 2.5km at 4.2%.
The Finish: a big wide road. There are some undulations and central traffic islands but it levels out and there’s not a corner in sight for the last 5km.
The Contenders: Marcel Kittel is the fastest but can he get a clear run to the line? The finish certainly helps, a long straight line. No team seems to be imposing themselves on the sprint, nobody is pulling out the field leaving it to the sprinters themselves to open things up in the final metres and this can make things chaotic. Arnaud Démare again is the second choice.
|Greipel, Bouhanni, Kristoff
Weather: hot and sunny, a top temperature of 33°C. A 5km/h breeze… which could gust to 40km/h if things turn stormy with the heat.
TV: live from the start at 12.05pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.25pm CET. With another sprint finish likely, tune in for the final and save your sofa time for the weekend’s mountain stages.