Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Stage 6 Preview

Stage 6 sees the peloton head 226.5km from Dinan to Liseux for the Tour's longest stage along a rolling route through Normandy. Providing an opportunity for the puncheurs, the stage profile does not suit the pure climbers such as Andy Schleck. Just like the run into Mûr-de-Bretagne this stage could see a brave breakaway rider propel himself from the peloton, which is sure to fracture under the pressure of the pace being set to hunt him down, to a victory fresh from a descent of the Côte du Billot less than 30km from the finish.

Dinan boasts one Brittany’s richest architectural heritages, its pride for its city walls, with its 14 watchtowers, its four colossal gates and its imposing keep, constructed in the fourteenth century for Duke Jean IV unmasked. The birthplace for the French Women’s Champion on many occasions, Edwige Pitel, its history with cycling began long before. Every year, between 1927 and 1931, the Tour stopped at this small port on the banks of the River Rance, where five different winners were crowned. The Tour’s last visit was in 1995, with the start of a stage which finished in Lannion and won by Fabio Baldato.

Home to horses, cows, cheeses and apple trees, combining everything that the collective imagination of Normandy conjures up, Liseux is positioned at the heart of the triangle which makes up Normandy’s three main cities – Caen, Rouen and Le Havre. Welcoming the Tour for a fourth time, Liseux has previously been the domain of sprinters: in 1964 just like in 1970, the two arrivals which took place there were both after Breton-Norman stages, and ended in a sprint finish won by Belgian cyclists, Edouard Sels and Walter Godefroot. During the Tour’s last visit here in 2006, the race route went in the opposite direction, starting in Lisieux and finishing in Vitré a sprinter was victorious then too: Robbie McEwen, the most Belgian of Australian cyclists.

This year however, the race organisers have opted for a rolling route across Normandy that sees the peloton ascend two category 3 climbs, the Côte de Saint-Michel de Montjoie and the Côte du Bourg d'Ouilly before a category 4 ascent of Côte du Billot. Ending slightly uphill this is not a classic sprint stage nor is it a true climbing stage. Real GC contendors will be hoping for a less troublesome stage and better weather before they truely head into the mountains but with everything to play for and the yellow jersey still firmly on the shoulders of a rider traditionally known for his sprinting there may be some shakeups along the way.

No comments :

Post a Comment