After a somewhat uneventful and messy Stage 5, the focus returns to the head of the race as the riders roll along for 150km admiring the view before wheeling headlong into a testing last 40km of Stage 6 of the Tour de France.
The stage is very similar to Stage 4, where the big teams kept the early break on a fairly short leash, before reigning them in at the foot of the final climb. There the juggernaut of Jumbo-Visma set up the powerhouse win of tour favourite Primoz Roglic.
A similar scene looks likely today, and a repeat win would be no surprise. that said, today’s final categorised climb, a tough 11km ascent of the Col de la Lusette peaks 14km from the finish and so may not have the same decisive final km surge that we saw from Roglic on Tuesday.
If the thinned out peleton of leading riders crest that rise together in more orderly fashion, a short descent is followed by a more gentle final incline over the last 8km. That may just open the door for a rider capable of hanging on up the Lusette and then show a turn of speed to nip away near the finish or in a sprint.
Julian Alaphillipe would be just such a rider and will be smarting after losing the yellow jersey to an innocuous time penalty yesterday. He is preferred to new yellow jersey holder Adam Yates who may just be tied down by his yellow obligations and would probably prefer a steeper final kick.
Veteran Alejandro Valverde was only just behind the group of leaders on Tuesday. Provided they don’t go quite so hard up the Lusette he should hang in there, and even then he is a great descender who can repair a small gap. The gentler final ascent may be more to his liking, and he has a very useful turn of speed. If he times it late enough then the major GC guys may not want or be able to chase him down. he looks a big price.
Miguel Angel Lopez looked lively on Tuesday and may have lost his winning chance when boxed in at a crucial late bend. He is another who can match the main men up the big climb and could show a turn of speed late on.
So whilst Roglic, Alaphillipe and Yates look the most likely to feature, they are no dark horses in the bookies markets. Instead a twin pronged attack at longer odds could be fruitful with Valverde and Lopez.
Alejandro Valverde, to win Stage 6 of the Tour de France, 0.5pts each way, 50/1 Betway
Miguel Angel Lopez, to win Stage 6 of the Tour de France, 0.5pts each way, 40/1 generally available
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