Mulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles
Date: July 11, 2019
Although stage 5 was a pretty tough and stressful day in the saddle, this stage 6 is a different level of difficulty altogether, with the first real GC day of the Tour. Three category 1 climbs, including the Le Markstein that starts the climbing after just 18kms, and finishes with the very nasty climb to La Planche Des Belles Filles, used a number of times in recent years, Chris Froome winning in 2012, Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 and Fabio Aru in 2017. But in between there are another five categorised climbs to get over, including the very steep Col des Chevreres which tops out with just 19kms to go. This is a day that will shape the rest of the Tour, where we’ll find out who’s hot and who’s not…
Forget about the break, today I think there will be a big battle to get into it inside the first 30kms, but the GC teams will start to control it from the very first climb and will keep the pressure on all day, dooming the break’s chances. I think we will see the likes of Ineos, DQS, Astana, EF, Bahrain and Jumbo taking an interest in keeping the pace high to try to strip out as many support riders of their rivals as possible ahead of the final climbs.
I think it will all kick off on the Chevreres which starts climbing with some 30kms to go, but the official part near the top is just 3.5kms long, but is very steep at 9.5% average. There are only 19kms left once they go over the top, 10kms of which are a descent and then 7kms up to the finish. The final, new kilometre that they have added to the top of the climb is a gravel road until about 400m to go and hits gradients of up to 24%, a savage end to a very hard day.
Ineos will probably look to control the race and will up the pace big-time on the Chevreres with Castroviejo, Rowe and Kwiatkowski all pushing hard. They reconned this climb and the gravel finish a month ago, so know the roads well.
Poels, Moscon and Castroviejo will take over on the final climb ready to set up their two top men. Of the two, I’m leaning towards Bernal laying down a marker tomorrow and kicking away on the 20% section that was the finish on the old climb and getting a small gap and then kicking on again on the gravel road to victory. Geraint Thomas isn’t really built for really steep, sharp finishes like this, he’d prefer something around 7-8% for a lot longer, but he can block and mark the others when they try to come after Bernal.
Movistar have a few candidates for today too, will we see Nairo Quintana make a move this early in the race? Well it looks like he doesn’t like this finish so much judging on the last time they came up here in 2017, he struggled on the climb and lost 34′ to Aru and 14′ to Froome, and that was not including the new final finish. Mikel Landa could try an early attack, but most likely he’ll be looking after Nairo and setting a pace for him or chasing down attacks. Alejandro Valverde is another danger, if it comes to a reduced group hitting the last 500m, he’d have a chance too, but he’s not looking in top shape at the moment to me.
Jakob Fuglsang isn’t feeling 100% yet he admitted after today’s stage, so I think we will see Fraile, Sanchez and the rest of the team nursing him home tomorrow, trying to ensure that he doesn’t lose too much time.
Mitchelton-Scott have a real danger for this stage too in Adam Yates, if it comes to the last kilometre and he’s hanging on the shoulders of the leaders, he has a very strong attack that could see him launch off the front and he could take the stage.
The two French challengers, Romain Bardet and Thibault Pinot will be very interested in this stage too. Pinot is a local boy who trains on these roads but has mixed results on the climb though. The last time up here in 2017 he had a really bad day and got dropped with 4kms to go, losing over 4 minutes by the finish. In 2012 he lost 1’24’ to Froome, finishing 15th. But in 2014, with no Froome in the race, he finished 2nd, just 15′ behind Nibali and over a minute ahead of Thomas. He is a far better rider nowadays though I think and a lot of people expect him to go well tomorrow, I’m not so sure he can win though.
Romain Bardet is coming closer to home in Brioude and is sure to get plenty of support along the way. 5th in 2017 behind Aru, he finished just 4′ behind Froome and Porte, and was also 5th here in 2014, just 22′ behind Nibali (7′ after Pinot), he tried a few moves along the way but was reeled in each time. He is probably going to be isolated on the final climb, he hasn’t looked himself at times this season, but he has shown in the past here he has the ability to finish in the top 5.
Luckily for Richie Porte this stage generally comes early in the race, as he has a habit of not getting past the 9th stage. His lightweight body and powerful climbing legs are perfect for this climb, particularly the really steep parts near the finish when everyone is going to be on the limit. 4th in 2017, 7th in 2014 and 13th in 2012 (after doing a huge amount of work to set up Froome’s win), Porte could be a dark horse for this stage at a big price of +5000
Dan Martin is another one I like for tomorrow. He was the fastest of the main bunch up here in 2017, only Fabio Aru had already flown the nest. He finished ahead of Froome, Porte, Bardet, Quintana Uran, Thomas and the rest that day. He and Fabio Aru could be big dangers tomorrow. I noticed Aru made a move towards the end of the final climb today, so he must be feeling good at the moment too, and of course as I said, he won here in 2017.
Steven Kruijswijk will be motivated to go hard today, there is a good chance that he could be wearing yellow at the end of the day if they can shake off Alaphilippe and he sticks close to Bernal. He is not so good at responding to sharp attacks, but is very good at setting a solid pace and will grind his way up the hill not far off the leaders.
Michael Woods and Rigo Uran will not be far off either, this finish is a similar sort of climb that was in the Worlds Championships last year where Woods got away with Valverde before finishing 3rd. Uran will just look to finish close to the leaders I think, this isn’t really a finish that suits him perfectly.
It’s going to be a great stage, it could be the stage we see Egan Bernal show what he’s made of and take team leader honours by winning the stage. Adam Yates could give him a good run for his money though and won’t be far off either.
- 1pt e/w on Adam Yates at +1000 with Bet465
- 2pts win on Egan Bernal at +300 with Bet365