Tarbes > Cauterets-Cambasque 145km
Well then, I didn’t see that coming. UAE allowed a huge break to get away, which was bound to include a threat on GC, that rider was Jai Hindley. That forced UAE into chasing all day, burning through their domestiques. On the steep section of the final climb, Jumbo-Visma came to the front and lifted the pace. Once Kuss had blown everyone apart from Pogačar away, Vingegaard hit the turbo button and immediately opened a big gap, and that was that. It’s back to the drawing board for all teams apart from Jumbo-Visma and Bora, we’ll have to see how today’s stage shapes the rest of the race.
The sixth stage is classic breakaway country and it’s all to do with the final climb being too easy for the GC men. There’s no chance a GC team uses up domestiques to chase the break when the group at the end will be relatively big, meaning no time taken on rivals. With a stage win up for grabs, the battle for the break will be crazy, it won’t go for a very long time. Making a break like this requires great legs but also a large slice of lady luck. Do you feel lucky?
Sunny day and not too warm.
Col d’Aspin is up first, it’s a cat 1 effort.
Next is the mighty Tourmalet, one of the most iconic climbs in the sport. This HC climb is long and steep, it also nudges over 2000m above sea level.
The final climb of the day is long and relatively steady. Things get a lot harder in the final 4km and that’s where the winning move will likely come.
Where will the break form? There’s a little rise of 500m at 5% almost from the gun, then 1.1km at 4.1% after just 2.4km of racing, it’s a day where breakaway hopefuls will need a good spot in the neutral zone. Now, it’s still unlikely the break forms on such short hills, but you just never know when someone lets the wheel go and the break disappears.
The first categorised climb comes after 24km, it is 7.4km at 3.7%, this looks a good spot for the break to get away from the bunch. However, we’ve seen some crazy stages before where the break doesn’t form in the first hour of racing, which would the bring the Aspin into play. This is the beauty of the Tour de France, no one knows when the break will form in a stage like this.
I know I’ve said this is a breakaway stage, but modern cycling has a habit of surprising. Some teams could look at this stage and decide to go hard, the Tourmalet is a monster of a climb and if raced, the peloton will be blown to pieces. The final climb might not be the hardest, but it’s still a mountaintop finish, I’m interested to see how the GC teams approach the day, Jumbo-Visma could take the opportunity to ride Pogačar out of the race, it’s a move I would use in their position, but they could also wait for the final 5km, it’s steep enough to see some gaps, as is the final sprint to the line.
In terms of the break, Bora are in yellow, and they’ll want to keep it. They’ll be more than happy to see a move disappear without a threat on GC, they’ll chase if anyone within 4 minutes gets up the road.
Jonas Vingegaard – today was a huge moment in the race, despite him losing time to Hindley. He’s now 47 seconds behind the Aussie, but he’s not going to be too worried about that, Jonas is clearly flying. Jumbo-Visma will decide whether they want to go for the stage win, I don’t think there’s a big need for the team to do so with so much racing ahead. Instead, they can hold back and wait for the final climb and see if they can do any damage in the final 5km. The steep section is hard enough for Jonas to distance everyone else.
Jai Hindley – what a moment in his career, fair play to him, he was the one riding at the front of the bunch, sniffing out an opportunity. He now sits in a position of strength, and we know that he always seems to improve throughout a grand tour. He’ll be happy for the break to take the bonus seconds out of the equation, then it’s a case of sitting on Vingegaard’s wheel for as long as possible.
Tadej Pogačar – I didn’t see that coming, not in the first week anyway. It will be fascinating to see how he recovers, last year he won a week after cracking on Col du Granon, but is he at the same level? He did say before the race that he was worried about his condition; it looks like he was telling the truth. Pogačar isn’t the type of rider to drift quietly throughout the race, we could even see UAE riding down the break to set him up for a potential stage win. That would be risky, as losing more time to Vingegaard would be hard to take.
Felix Gall – breakaway hopeful number 1. Looks in great form.
Rui Costa – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Ruben Guerreiro – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Neilson Powless – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Victor Lafay – breakaway hopeful number 5.
A breakaway win for Felix Gall. Back in the GC group, I think Vingegaard will take time on everyone else.