Tour de France Stage 6 Preview: Brest to Mur de Bretagne

Ian O'Sullivan

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 5:35 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2018 5:35 PM UTC

Back to the Mur de Bretagne after two years gap, the first real uphill battle for the GC men of this year's  Tour de France.

Well that was an exciting stage Wednesday, everything I expected of it. And we landed the winner and the each-way second with Peter Sagan just holding on from Sonny Colbrelli. Philippe Gilbert lit it up on the final hill, but he went too early and Sagan always looked like he was in control once it got to the easier last 300m. Greg Van Avermaet wasn’t far off at all in 7th, just behind Valverde, Alaphilippe and Dan Martin. Will we see the same characters involved Thursday in Stage 6? It’s quite likely. No change to the overall GC, but a great ride from Toms Skujins sees him take the polka dot jersey.

Stage 6 Route

A flat start as they head north from Brest, then turn right after 22kms at Le Fouget, and then it's pretty much a straight line for 135kms as they head towards Mur de Bretagne.

They enter the final circuit with 19kms to go and pass over the little Mur de Bretagne climb in the village first (1km at 6%), descend for a kilometre and arrive at the foot of the final climb to the Mur de Bretagne proper.

This is a tough climb that officially averages 2kms at 6.9%, but it's steepest in the first half, with 500m at 10.1% and 500m at 9.5%. It then eases back a little with 1km to go to 5.5% and then 2.4% for the last 500m. The difference this year is that they go over it twice, the first time with 16kms to go, the second time it’s the finish line.

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📊 Classifications after Stage 5 📊
💛 @GregVanAvermaet 🇧🇪
💚 @petosagan 🇸🇰
🔴⚪ @Tomashuuns 🇱🇻
👶 @kraghsoren 🇩🇰#TDF2018⁠ ⁠ pic.twitter.com/dCbvmYgck0

— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 11, 2018
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Contenders

This should be a GC men’s day, one that could see gaps forming between those that like these sorts of punchy finishes and those who don’t. There is also the matter of the Yellow Jersey being up for grabs. Julian Alaphilippe has a big chance on a finish like this and he could well take yellow if he wins, being only 6” behind Van Avermaet. He did win La Fleche Wallone in April, after all, on the Mur de Huy, a good form preview to doing well on the Mur de Bretagne. He was also pretty close Wednesday, featuring a lot towards the front in the last 5kms and taking 5th in the end.

Daniel Martin did really well in 2015 up here, eventually getting off the barriers and going in pursuit of Vuillermoz, coming home in 2nd a little ahead of the chasers. If he can attack hard again on the steeper parts he has a big chance again. Wednesday was all about saving energy for Thursday he said in an interview after Stage 5, and even with trying to save energy he finished in the first 6, I think he’s ready and will have a big chance tomorrow.

Third in 2015 was Alejandro Valverde, and the Movistar team pose a bit of a betting conundrum as to what might happen with them. Valverde could win this stage, but will he be asked to look after Quintana? Or will Landa be asked to look after Quintana, allowing Valverde go for it? I think it will be the latter and he’ll be a big danger here judging by his 4th place Wednesday. But he was no match for Alaphilippe in Fleche-Wallone.

Fourth in 2015 up here was Peter Sagan, and who would rule him out pulling off another incredible win Wednesday? I think, though, that it might be just a little too steep for him when the guys mentioned above go for it; he has the power when it levels off a bit, but like in 2015 they might be gone that little bit too far.

Greg Van Avermaet wasn’t far off either last time, finishing 6th, but like Sagan he might just lack the acceleration on the steeper parts. Adam Yates was just behind him and he has gotten a lot stronger and punchier in the three years since. I think he could go a lot closer this time, and he could be one to go with the likes of Martin and Alaphilippe.

I’m not sure that too many of the GC favourites will be involved in the win, but Romain Bardet might be the one who can get out and go after the punchy guys, his win on the Peyragudes last year when he left all these guys behind shows just how good he is on a steep finish.

Froome, Uran, Dumoulin, Porte, Thomas, they all lack the punch necessary to get after the fastest guys here. Others to consider? Daryl Impey might go close again, if he can stay with the leaders and they come as a small group he’d have a chance in the sprint.

Sonny Colbrelli and Philippe Gilbert might come close too. Colbrelli will be absolutely on the limit to hang in there, but again, he won on the Hatta Dam and Brabantse Pijl and we saw Wednesday just how strong he is on a tough finish like this. Nibali will be there to help him. Jelle Vanendert apparently is also targeting this stage, I thought he might go well Wednesday; he finished 15th so not that far off.

Free Cycling Picks:1pt e/w on Dan Martin at +8000.25pts e/w on Jelle Vanendert at +3300Best Lines Offered: Bet365
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