202 Paris-Nice Stage 6 Preview

Courthézon > Aubagne 213.5km

We have a long stage ahead with almost 3000m of climbing. After today’s breakaway success, those that prefer flatter terrain will sense another opportunity to get up the road and take the stage win. It could end in a sprint, but with so many riders leaving the race, I’m not sure we have enough teams wanting to chase.

Weather

We’ll have wind of 25-30km/h for the whole stage, that’s windy! Coming from the south-east means a lot of headwind throughout the day, but there are some sections of crosswind. Much of the route is well protected by trees, but we’ll have to see if anyone wants to try and put Roglič under pressure.

Key Points

The opening climb is 10.6km at 4.2%, it starts 26km into the day. It’s long and steady, perfect for those looking to jump in the breakaway.

The final climb of the day is the Col de l’Espigoulier, it is 10.2km at 4.7%, another long climb. From the crest there is 28km to go, it features a fast and technical descent for 9km.

Tactics

This is a classic medium mountain stage, one which many different types of rider can win. The battle for the break will be fierce, it could even go on after the first climb. The reason is the lack of teams wanting a sprint. Given the final climb, this stage is too hard for the pure sprinters. The likes of Coquard, Stuyven, Hayter, Laporte, Van Aert and Mezgec would back themselves to get over the climbs, but I don’t see a team like Cofidis being able to pull back a strong break.

The headwind does give the peloton a chance, as does any chance of echelons. Jumbo-Visma are in control of the race, but with a busy weekend to come I don’t see them wanting to chase all day to set up a sprint win. Ineos didn’t pull today, I doubt they’ll be riding for a sprint finish either. I think what I’m saying is that this is another great stage for the breakaway, unless it’s just a small group that gets away and multiple teams ride to chase it down.

Contenders

Brandon McNulty – now sits 7:51 behind Roglič, that’s still enough of a gap to get in the break. McNulty clearly used up a lot of energy today, but that doesn’t mean he can’t go again in this stage. He might be thinking about trying to save some energy in the next two stages, before having a go at the Nice stage, but it probably depends on how he feels when he wakes up in the morning. What we do know is that he’s in the form of his life.

Stefan Küng – the hills in this stage won’t frighten my Swiss hero! Given his climbing form in the Algarve, this is a great stage for Küng. After a strong TT he’s clearly in good form, he’s the best option for FDJ looking at the route. 

Thomas De Gendt – breakaway royalty. Now at the ripe old age of 35 (still younger than me!) Thomas has got to carefully select his breakaway stages; he no longer has an unlimited supply of matches. This is a good day for him.

Connor Swift – he’s got great form just now, and he’s another who climbed very well in the Algarve. He also has a fast sprint from a reduced group.

Fred Wright – another danger man for a stage like this. He climbs well and has a fast sprint; this could be a big chance for him to land a big one.

Wout Poels – not a classic stage for him, but his legs are clearly good and he’s well down in GC.

Jasper Stuyven – it’s all about how good his current form is. He started this season a little undercooked, he’s hoping to peak for Flanders and Roubaix, so he couldn’t start the year in flying form. If this stage was in the Tour de France, he’d be one of the big favourites, we’ll have to see if his shape is good enough in March to challenge for the win.

Tobias Bayer – I’m a fan of the big Austrian. He’s one of these talented riders who can do most things well. Hopefully we see him in the break, it would be a cool win to win his first pro race.

Omar Fraile – I’m still not used to seeing him in an Ineos kit. This is a classic Fraile stage, surely, he’ll be allowed freedom to try and jump in the break. If he makes it, he’ll be one of the men to beat.

Prediction Time

I’ll take a win for Stefan Küng.

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