Thursday, 7 July 2011

#TDF Stage 6 Long but not flat

Normally the longest stage on the Tour de France is a nice flat stage, with nice broad roads for the sprinters to form up and take the honours on the line. This year the honour of the longest stage falls to stage 6 the run from Dinan to Liesieux, unlike any other longest stage that I can recall it is liable to bring about a new wearer of the polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains.

The reason for this is that are three categorised climbs. Two are category three and the 4th is a caterory 4. As each category three climb overs the same number of points for the first man over as the two currently enjoyed by Cadel Evans who wear polka dots someone in a breakaway will equal on on the first of these, and if they are still away at the second only need to come second to take one point to go ahead (similarly whoever was second first time, only needs to come out on top).

We know from experience on the previous stages that whatever points are on over for the main group that the Sprint at Vassy will be contested, we hope cleanly this time. Also the new wearer of the Green Jersey, Philippe Gilbert, who has been in the mix for minor points at these is likely to be there again, he wants to be presented that jersey on the podium today, unlike yesterday when it was awarded to Jose Joaquin Rojos, before he and Tom Boonen (who did make the cut off time after his crash) were docked their points for cutting into Mark Cavendish's lane.

As for the finish today there is a 91m ramp to claim over the last 3 km. This is less than the Mûr-de-Bretagne's 137 m over the final two, but more than 50, or so over two ramps off yesterday's arrival at Cap Fréhel. The one difference is that the final km is relatively flat. This finish is likely to suit a Puncheur like Fabian Cancellera, or it may suit a classic specialist like Philippe Gilbert, who won his four one days in a row with the is sort of finish. However, I am not ruling out Mark Cavendish either today, after the way he rode up to Cap Fréhel yesterday (his sixteenth stage win equally five time winner Jacques Anquetil), saying that he was trying to prove the management of the race wrong in handicapping him and his team. If he can hang on tight maybe not even in with the leaders but in touching distance on the climb, with a couple of his strong leader out men to help him launch for that final km, he may well pull off another surprise here.

Therefore this stage is going to incredible difficult to call. It may be very much like Mûr-de-Bretagne and Cap Fréhel in that various people will try and launch an attack on the slope, but they may not be successful and may stall before the line. It will all be about timing the lunge for the line once again and will lead to an interesting afternoons viewing.

The race is live on ITV4 from 14:00-16:30 with the highlights this evening at 19:00 as usual.

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