Before you betting on Stage 6 of the Tour de France, take a look at our extensive preview of it. We discuss which riders will lead the pack, and how does this translate for your sports picks.
Despite what it looks like on paper, this could be an interesting stage for sure. It looks like a nice jaunt for 120kms along the coastline of the Seine-Maritime on the cliffs overlooking 'Le Manche', but if the wind blows in from the sea, they could be a chaotic and wild last 120kms. Luckily the conditions look like being kind to them.
The route itself is pretty non-descript from a distance but the 191.5kms is littered with hills up and hills down, all day long. Short, sharp little climbs like the uncategorised rises at Gamaches and Grand Court in the opening 40kms as they head towards Dieppe and the coast road. There are in fact four categorised climbs on the route, two in quick succession after 72 and 77kms, then it's up and down all day until the sprint point at Saint-Leonard after 145kms and the final Cat 4 climb at the Cote de Tilleul after 162kms.
None of the hills are hard though, short and the hardest is only 5.6% average. The 20kms after the Cote de Tilleul are pretty flat along the top of the cliff but then at Saint Adresse with 7kms to go it dives down to sea level, dropping 90m to the approach in to Le Havre and the final climb to the finish. The descent is going to be very fast and quite dangerous, there are lots of fast straights, but lots of roundabouts as you can see below on the run-in to the final climb.
The Cote d'Ingouville is a wide highway that rises at a steady gradient of 7% for 850m before it eases back to about 2-3% for the final 400m or so. It's a power climb as it isn't that long at 850m, it's a far different climb to say the Mur de Huy. It's actually far more like the finish to Amstel Gold Race on the Cauberg, which is 800m at 6.5%. You can see the gradient and the size of the road below, there should be no problem with passing someone on a wide road like this.
As I said above in the description of the finish, I liken the finishing climb to the Cauberg of the Amstel Gold Race, which is around the same distance and gradient. This will mean we should see a combination of GC riders battling it out with puncheurs and strong sprinters who might be able to hang in there and sprint at the end when it comes to the flatter last 300m.
Of the top finishers of the AGR this year, we have Michal Kwiatkowski here (1st), but he's not exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment and I'd be surprised if he was able to win it. We also have Alejandro Valverde here (2nd), but he's also not exactly firing yet, he was well off the pace on the Mur de Huy, he was nothing like his usual self on the climb - badly positioned, no kick..
Michael Matthews was 3rd in AGR, after a brilliant, if perhaps foolish chase down of Philippe Gilbert as he attacked at the bottom of the climb. He recovered well to sprint to 3rd though. He would have been one of my favourites to win this stage if he hadn't smashed himself in that crash on Monday, he's 80/1 now and that's probably even too short as he is a walking wounded.
Rui Costa was 4th in AGR, but again, he got smashed up in that crash, he was at the bottom of the pile of bodies (right). He luckily didn't break anything but is bruised and sore. I can't see him fighting it out either tomorrow.
Greg Van Avermaet was 5th that day, another excellent result in his season of excellent results, and he's one that could very well be involved in the finish of this stage once again. He was very strong on stages 2 and 4, doing a job looking after Van Garderen and also sprinting to a 6th and a 4th place finish and he once again added another top 10 finish in the sprint of stage 5.
His best result of the season probably was his stage win in Arezzo in Tirreno-Adriatico, when he outsprinted the favourite Sagan and Stybar on a hill that was 5% average for 1km. He can handle this sort of finish and looks an alright bet for a podium at worst at 10/1 with PP, but the 2/1 on him to finish on the podium with Betfair might be the better way to go.
Another rider who will like this stage for four reasons is Tony Gallopin - firstly, he might try a late attack off the front with 7 or 8kms to go, down the descent, he's a very good descender. Secondly, he also went very well in Amstel Gold, finishing just behind the podium guys in 6th place. Thirdly, he is going extremely well at the moment, he was right at the front on the Mur de Huy, something I didn't expect to see, only fading with about 100m to go when he was passed by Vuillermoz and Martin and had to settle for 5th. Finally, Greipel is unlikely to make the sprint finish so it would be useful to Greipel if Gallopin could take points off Sagan.
He was also in the front group on the wild stage 2 and finished 8th on stage 4 to Cambrai. In the BrabantsePijl this year he finished '3rd' in the sprint behind Matthews and Gilbert (and Hermans) with the final climb up to the finish a little like this climb too, 1km at 6%. 16/1 isn't great, but with Betfred paying 4 places it offers some each-way value, he could get on to the podium.
EdvaldBoasson Hagen has been going very well, I was tempted for a while to back him in-play for stage 4 when he was going so well (and MTN had said earlier that they were all in for him on the stage). But 365 were offering win only at 16/1 so I left it! He too might like this finish, but I think he could be outgunned by a few, too short for me at 16/1, he is being backed though. John Degenkolb looked like the winner of this stage to me after he 'won' the sprint for 2nd on stage 3, but with the way Sagan is going at the minute, I'm not sure he'll be able to beat him. 5/1 is a bit short for me too, he might get caught out on the climb if the GC guys race it like the Mur de Huy.
Dan Martin said in his column today in the Irish Times "It has an uphill sprint to the line and while I’m not sure if it will be long enough for me, I’ll give it a bit of a crack if I can." - I'm not sure it's perfect for him though, even at 50/1. Coquard, Kristoff, CImolai, Navardauskas (even though I think he suffered multiple contusions a few days ago), Vuillermoz - they could all be involved at big prices.
It's a wide open stage, but I really think that Peter Sagan will be almost impossible to beat tomorrow, unless someone manages to slip the net and get away and he can't pull them back. The hill will strip away most of his sprinter opposition and he has shown that his sprint is one of the best in the race at the moment, he was absolutely flying at the finish today and he reckons he will finally get his win tomorrow. His team will put him in the right position with 7/8kms to go and he'll take over from there, he has the skills to position himself very well sweeping in to the bottom of the climb.
3pts win on Peter Sagan at 15/8 on Betfair
1.5pts on Greg Van Avermaet to finish in the top 3 at 9/4 on Betfair
0.5pts each-way on Tony Gallopin at 16/1 with Betfred paying 4 places