The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 6

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

The Steps

1st – Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates)

2nd – Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) @ 0:01

3rd – Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) @ 0:03

The Parcours

Stage 6 again travelled through Brittany in France’s North-West, on a lumpy 181km route. There’s only two reasons for the TDF to visit Brittany, the Mur-de-Bretagne and the crosswinds, and today we got both. While the race didn’t have as much climbing on stage 5, it finished with two ascents of the region’s most famous hill, the Mur de Bretagne. The 2km climb averages 7% with pitches at 13%, and was covered once with 15km to go, and then the race finished at the top of the next time up.

The Jerseys

Yellow – Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)

Polka Dot – Toms Skujins (Trek - Segafredo)

Green – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

White – Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)

The Break

A five-man break established itself reasonably easily, with Fabien Grellier and Damien Gaudin of Direct Energie, Anthony Turgie of Cofidis, Laurent Pichon of Fortuneo-Samsic, and Dion Smith of Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The Kiwi Smith was after the Polka Dot Jersey, which he forfeited yesterday to Toms Skujins.

Smith won the first two KOM climbs, putting him equal on points with Skujins, but behind on countback and needing to take a point on the first ascent of the Bretagne to wear the Jersey tomorrow. That looked possible for a while, as the break found around a 7:00 gap to the peloton with 110km to go.

However, drama soon came as Quick-Step, fed up with doing all the work, turned up the pace in a section with crosswinds, and immediately split the peloton. Mass chaos ensued with Quintana, Fuglsang and Roglic all finding themselves caught by the splits. They all made it back eventually, though it took Roglic nearly 40km.

With the peloton eventually coming back together, the only real victim was the Break, who had their advantage cut to 2:00 by the 80km to go point. They held their advantage all the way to the Mur, as the peloton backed off the pace in the meantime. Smith could practically smell the KOM Jersey at this point, but by the top of the climb, the entire break was swept up. To rub it in, Skujins jumped off the front of the bunch and nicked the KOM points.

 

The Finish

Bora set the pace to the foot of the final ascent, pulling back Jack Bauer’s failed attack over the top of the first ascent. Bora were working for their word champion Peter Sagan, believing the climb wouldn’t be too hard for him.

It was Richie Porte who took up the pacemaking on the Mur, but the first attack came from Dam Martin, who went with 1200m to go. It was a long searing attack from the Irishman, who at times appeared to be running out of gas. Pierre Latour jumped away in pursuit, but nobody could pull back Martin.

After a quiet early season, Martin's hitting good form at the right time, and he can be a force in this Tour.

The Aussies

11th – Richie Porte

75th – Simon Clarke

97th – Luke Durbridge

103rd – Heinrich Haussler

116th – Simon Gerrans

129th – Mat Hayman

136th – Damien Howson

141st – Rory Sutherland

146th – Michael Hepburn

158th – Mark Renshaw

The GC Men

2nd – Geraint Thomas @ 0:03

3rd – Tejay Van Garderen @ 0:05

6th – Bob Jungels @ 0:18

7th – Rigoberto Uran @ 0:45

8th – Alejandro Valverde @ 0:51

9th – Rafael Majka @ 0:52

10th – Jakob Fuglsang @ 0:53

11th – Richie Porte @ 0:53

12th – Mikel Landa @ 0:55

13th – Adam Yates @ 1:02

14th – Chris Froome @ 1:02

16th – Vincenzo Nibali @ 1:08

17th – Primoz Roglic @ 1:17

18th – Bauke Mollema 1:18

15th – Tom Dumoulin @ 1:23

20th – Steven Kruiswijk @ 1:26

21st – Damien Martin @ 1:27

22nd – Egan Bernal @ 1:30

23rd – Romain Bardet @ 1:45

24th – Warren Barguil @ 1:57

25th – Ilnur Zakarin @ 2:02

26th – Domenico Pozzovivo @ 2:08

27th – Nairo Quintana @ 2:10

 

The Movers and Shakers

Romain Bardet and Tom Dumoulin were the big casualties; both punctured with around 5km to go. Bardet initially got back into the bunch, thanks to a quick teammate.  But a kilometre from the line, he was out the rear of the bunch, clearly paying for his effort to get back in. He lost 31 seconds in the end. Dumoulin’s puncture was more costly. He never made it back into the bunch, and his time trialling skills weren’t enough to get him back into the bunch, and he lost 53 seconds. To make things even worse, he was penalised 20 seconds after the stage for drafting his team car.

It wasn’t the sort of finish to really test the contenders, so it’s hard to say if anyone looked weak, but Richie Porte looked super strong. It was the Tasmanian who rode the front of the peloton for nearly the whole Mur, looking super strong.

Defending champ and Chris Froome lost 8 seconds, the punchy finish clearly not to his liking. A few other men lost small time too; Rigoberto Uran lost 11 seconds, Steven Kruijswijk lost 12 seconds, as did Ilnur Zakarin.

Primoz Roglic was lucky not to lose time in the crosswinds earlier in the day; he was poorly placed when Quick-Step picked the pace up, and was 90 seconds back from the peloton at one point. He ended up showing his strength and placing 10th at the finish, but as a first time GC rider, he’s not yet doing the simple things like riding at the front.

 

The Next Stage

Stage 7 is the longest of the race at 231km, and it’s going to feel like it too. There’s one categorized climb in the stage, a Category 4 climb coming in the middle of the stage, but it’s pretty flat otherwise. If you’re still awake by the end, it should be a hectic sprint though. There are three roundabouts in the final 5km, including one where they’ll turn with 2km to go, before heading downhill and hitting a big left-hander with 1200m to go. It will again be an uphill sprint, as the final 600m rise at 3%.

 

The Pick

We’re picking Fernando Gaviria to win. The Colombian has won all the sprints he’s been present for so far, and that shouldn’t change here. 

See you back at the social club,

Josh

 


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