Categorised as flat, and with only two cat 4 climbs to contend with, this stage looks set for a sprint finish. However, a twisting route and the possibility of crosswinds as the peloton heads towards Reims will ensure this is anything but a stress-free day for the GC teams.
Thursday 10th July: Stage 6 – Arras to Reims, flat, 194km
It’s a stage of two halves. In the first, the peloton pays tribute to The Great War as it passes through the Somme and many of the key battle sites. The second half is best described as lumpy and twisty, with an ever-present threat of crosswinds and echelons. Expect to see Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Belkin and Tinkoff-Saxo take full advantage if these occur.
The bunch gallop into Reims with its false flat finish may favour the power sprinters over the flat-out speedsters so watch out for Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ), with John Degenkolb offering Giant-Shimano an alternative to the red-hot Marcel Kittel if called upon. The final 1,100 metres is arrow-straight, although a rapid succession of roundabouts from the 5km banner onwards will make life spicy for the sprint trains.
There is one other possibility. Given the punishing nature of yesterday’s wet cobbled stage, this might just be a day when a determined break of strong men succeeds. How about Thomas Voeckler, or one final win for Jens Voigt?
Link: Official website
Header image: Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme