Stage 6: Aix en Provence to Montpellier, 176km, flat
The green jersey battle is now in full swing and this stage will be key to the final points tally in Paris. After the cat 4 climb of the Col de la Vayede about 70km into the stage, the rest is flat flat flat. But something could be lurking …
That something is the Mistral, the wind that whips around Provence and especially the Camargue, the low-lying region of Provence that is home to flamingos and wild horses. If you remember the stage into La Grande Motte in 2009, you’ll know that teams can get caught out when the wind plays its part to break them into echelons. That year, Cavendish‘s Highroad team judged conditions perfectly and forced a huge split in the peloton. This year, as the stage passes through this region, it’s not just the sprinters who need to keep an eye out for this: every GC contender will want to be up front and alert. They’ll all want to make sure they don’t fall for the Mistral’s tricks and get distanced.
If, as expected, the sprinters are massing for a bunch finish, they will want to keep their wits about them for the sweeping, narrowing left-hander with 2.5km to go. If the peloton isn’t well strung out at this point, things could get nasty.
Bit of trivia: The Tour last finished a stage in Montpellier in 2011 – Mark Cavendish won en route to the green jersey.
Link: Official website
Header picture: Flamingoes of the Camargue