Not a great deal worth saying about yesterday’s stage, perhaps only that we shall never get that time back.
Onwards to Stage 7, where a triumvirate of categorised climbs will offer the breakaway a chance to distance themselves from the peloton, though the sprinters’ teams will be in hot pursuit throughout the stage to ensure a gallop into Lavaur, some 168km after leaving Millau.
This looks to be a stressful day for the GC riders, as there is a reasonable chance for crosswinds affecting the bunch late in the day, where a canny team could up the tempo and stick it in the gutter to see if they can get the elastic to snap. Expecting plenty of awkward jostling for position amongst the sprint trains and those tasked with protecting yellow jersey hopefuls; their eagerness to stay safe, no doubt, causing an increased chance of crashing.
Current green jersey leader Sam Bennett is yet to pick up a stage win at Le Tour de France, but today looks to be a great chance, especially given his leadership of a team with documented prowess in crosswinds. The Irishman is the fastest rider at the race, yet has been unable to demonstrate this to great effect due to timing and positioning errors in the previous sprints. That is not to say it will be a cakewalk, just he is the best equipped to deal with whatever Stage 7 might have in store for the fast men.
Cees Bol is another who enjoys great support in the form of a strong Sunweb team who will not fear the prospect of crosswinds much either. As was seen on Stage 5, he would benefit from a drag up to the line, though this potentially tough run into town due to echelons and another slick delivery by his teammates into a good position might result in him taking the day’s honours.
Though it was the wind which did him a favour on Stage 3, Caleb Ewan is unlikely to find it as beneficial today if crosswinds do emerge. Lacking teammates able to cope with such conditions, as well as being a sprinter not known for winning after potentially draining runs into town, he could be having to settle for the minor placings at best and switch his focus to more suitable options later in Le Tour.
Struggling to find his stride is Giacomo Nizzolo, who clearly has the form, but lacks the fortune to have enjoyed a fair run at a stage win thus far. The Italian national champion cannot claim to be as fast as Bennet or Ewan, so will look to make the most of any crosswind potential to blunt their efforts or potentially distance them all together. He has great firepower in support to keep him safe if life gets gusty, while also having the option to use his teammates to apply pressure to his faster rivals if the chance arises.
Trek-Segafredo have a tough decision to make, as Mads Pedersen, Edward Theuns and Jasper Stuyven can all claim to be deserving of protected status on today’s stage. Given that Stuyven has already had a crack, and Pedersen suiting this better than Theuns, it would make most sense to back the reigning world champion; especially after his showing on the opening stage. Though it is a blessing to have options for days such as these, Trek would surely be best off ensuring that one rider is kept in as best shape as possible, as they have several riders ideally suited to surviving echelons and delivering the likes of Pedersen into Lavaur with a genuine leadout train for once.
Peter Sagan deserves a mention, simply because he is Peter Sagan, who often manages to float into the front group amidst hectic conditions as if a complete non-event. Far from his best nowadays, Sagan is still strong enough to pick off a stage win here from a reduced sprint.
Others expected to bother the top 10 are Matteo Trentin, Alexander Kristoff, Elia Viviani, Oliver Naesen and Hugo Hofstetter.
1st Sam Bennett 2nd Cees Bol 3rd Mads Pedersen