- Tour de France stage 6 – Mulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles
Now this does look like an interesting stage, a few of the peleton have said that it’s the hardest stage of the year. Lets have a look whats i store, first up from the https://www.letour.fr.
This is the fourth finish atop La Planche des Belles Filles in eight years. It was the venue of Chris Froome’s first ever Tour de France stage win in 2012. Vincenzo Nibali was first in the ski resort of the Haute-Saône in the massif of the Vosges in 2014 and Fabio Aru won up there in 2017. It was already a very steep finale but it’ll be even steeper, longer and harder this time with one more kilometre to climb. It makes it a 7-km long hill at 8.7% and final ramps at 20%. This is Thibaut Pinot’s territory. The Groupama-FDJ leader will race on home soil. He knows how difficult the previous climbs are too: Markstein and Ballon d’Alsace are first category hills and the col des Chevrères just before La Planche is a very hard one too. Julian Alaphilippe is aware of the huge tasks he’ll face in the defence of the yellow jersey against the GC contenders but also the attackers from far out who haven’t had the scenario they wanted on stage 5.
The favourites of the Tour never miss out on La Planche des Belles Filles “rendez-vous”. They will this time face an even tougher finish (1 extra kilometre… including two additional steep climbs), and all that after taking on several other climbs including the Markstein, the Ballon d’Alsace and the Col des Chevrères. A rather heavy menu for an even heavier deadline.
Lets have a look at the profile.
And the finish. Ouch.
Who are the contenders, well inrng.com has covered the bases for us.
The Contenders: Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) seems the safe choice, he’s climbing well and has a strong team to pace him into position and in any case we’ll see how he and Geraint Thomas are doing, this is a selective climb to the point that the last time they rode the Chevrères-Planche combo in 2014, three of the top-4 that day finished on the podium although this year’s long duration, high altitude finale might tilt things. Still Ineos/Sky’s modus operandi has been to hit the first summit finish hard… or was that Froome’s method?
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) is the local pick – his father is mayor of a town 15km away, and the local undertaker too – but living a brief warm-up away from the foot of the climb doesn’t make you faster, it might just help you pace yourself up but the climb will feel totally different today going from a deserted forest road to a noisy sports arena. Knowing a descent fully helps much more. But he seems in great form too, only sharp climbs like this aren’t his best climb, he’s better on longer ascents.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) used to be a local too when he was an U23 racing in France (the same outfit as Warren Barguil, Guillaume Martin and others) and this is a big test for him, he’s a prototype rider for a climb like this.
Today’s finish has a touch of Vuelta craziness to it and so maybe Mikel Landa will enjoy it but he’s never fared well here, his form is unknown and the fight for position might be hard. The climb is probably to intense for Quintana to win on even at his best form but Alejandro Valverde could do it.
Jacob Fuglsang (Astana) gets to test his form and his knee and given his form this season he should be close, he looked good on the sharp climbs to Epernay. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) should be close but the win looks unlikely.
Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) won the steep finish on the Peyragudes runway in 2017 but so far the form isn’t obvious. Specialist picks for such a steep climb include Michael Woods (EF Education First) who excels in steep climbs and Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) who does too and was second here the last time in 2017. Outsiders like David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) could feature but the stage win looks elusive.
Can Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) stay in yellow? His cousin Frank thinks yes and if you think his family would say that, Frank is is coach too who should know what he’s talking about and apparently he is lighter than last year. It seems difficult, his limit is handling multiple Alpine-style climbs and it’ll depend on Steven Kruijswijk’s climbing, Egan Bernal taking time bonuses and more and his style isn’t to turn the final climb into a private time trial, he’ll want to follow the wheels and fight.
The breakaway has a chance today and some might go up the road without thinking of winning the stage because if Tim Wellens has 17 points in the mountains competition, first place across the first five climbs today brings 10+5+2+10+2 = 29 points. But who could win all these climbs who is down on GC and not on team duties today? Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) himself and if not team mate Thomas de Gendt.
And to finish, yesterday. Pics from https://cyclingtips.com/ and the Tour official website.
I do love France.
Sagan!!!!!!Posted 6 days ago
Seems like there is a bit of uncertainty on the surface of the last section of the final climb too (according to the Cyclingtips podcast); it was originally gravel; they’ve compressed bits and then tarmaced bits. A lot of the teasm don’t seem to know which bits are what…Posted 6 days ago
Its a tough question to answer. But because the french press and media seem to think he’s the forgone winner, I think not. He will put up a fight until he falls off dribbling, but ultimately a marked man if ever there was one.
The Vosges was stunning yesterday, it’s going to look stunning once again.
A break, is obvz, and “you-know-who” will be in it, innit. Doomed to fail, but I’d like to see someone from Samsic like Barguil, Bouet or Delaplace or even Moinard just because they’ve been mid pack so far.. or someone from T-DE… Bonifazio, Calmejane (If he’s feeling a bit better than yesterday) Sicard (was once brilliant, fingers crossed he’s on form) or Taaramae, even Terpstra please let Nikki be in the break..
I want to see a break with 12mins, but I really doubt that will happen 🤷♂️Posted 6 days agosteviousMember
There’ another race up the hill today too:
Posted 6 days ago
The @nedboulting 50th birthday Plank Attack run (no wheels) begins at 09:30 CET at the foot of Les Planches des Belles Filles. Pete & I have gifted him 30 secs for the years of age difference. Therefore I start at 09:34 and Pete at 09:40. It is a pursuit to the summit. No gifts. pic.twitter.com/2jVqEgUg6b
— David Millar (@millarmind) July 10, 2019weeksySubscriber
I guess this is the really big question of the race up to now. In all honesty i have absolutely no idea who can or will win this one today.. I’d expect it to be full of the main protagonists though with all the usual suspects.
For me though it should answer the big Bernal/Thomas question, not necessarily which of them is the dedicated leader as such, but which is having the best form.Posted 6 days agoteamslugMember
Valverde anyone?. If he can get in the front group he’s going to be hard to beat. Look how he won the world championship in Innsbruck. I hope Dan Martin puts on show too. I missed out yesterday, was going to pick Sagan then changed to Alaphilippe. So i’ll go Valverde, it will certainly be an interesting team dynamic at Movistar. Not sure they are going to ride for each other.Posted 6 days agoslowpuncheurMember
I think there’ll be gaps but quite small. Favourites will mark each other until the steep final K when it can be nothing but each man for himself on those gradients. G to loose about 30 seconds to Bernal, Pinot and Bardet. Michael Woods for the win. He deserves a Tour stage and these finishes suit him.Posted 6 days agosingletrackmindMember
Surely with that amount of ascent the tiny sub 60kg climbers will fare better.Posted 6 days ago
If the domestiq riders can get Porte or Quintana to the final 2 climbs and not blow in the first 1km then they could dance away with it.
Never discount NIballi or Yates as he is another pocket rocket who can grab a gap and maintain high outputsbrakesMember
Really excited for this stage.Posted 6 days ago
The time gaps may be small but the psychological wins will be huge so be prepared for those who aren’t top favourites to have a go.
I’m expecting Valverde and Nibali to strike out late (after pissing about a bit to test old legs) but hoping that Bernal or Yates will show them that climbing is a young man’s game and go a bit earlier. Or is it the other way round?slowpuncheurMember
Just so we know (from Wiki):
La Planche des Belles Filles (English: “Board of the beautiful girls”) is a ski station in the Vosges Mountains
Posted 6 days ago
The name Belles Filles literally means “Beautiful Girls”, but is actually derived from the local plant life. The mountain is attested from the 16th century as lieu peuplé de belles fahys, a “place inhabited with nice beech trees” in the local dialect. Belles fahys later became corrupted into Belles Filles, though there remains a nearby village of Belfahy. Meanwhile, Planche, “board”, is derived from the nearby small town of Plancher-les-Mines.
A folk etymology, in contrast, holds that the mountain took its name from the time of the Thirty Years’ War. According to legend, young women from Plancher-les-Mines fled into the mountains to escape Swedish mercenaries as they feared being raped and massacred. Rather than surrender, they decided to commit suicide and jumped into a lake far below. One of the soldiers then took a board on which, with his dagger, he engraved an epitaph for the “beautiful girls”. A wooden statue, created by a local artist, is a reminder of the legendferralsMember
Again, I’m taking this from the Cyclingtips podcast, but their suggestion was ther might well be a proper GC battle, despite it being early in the tour, because after today it is rolling/sprint stages all the way till the rest day on Tuesday. Here’s hoping!
Every time I hear an interview with Geraint Thomas he seems to be playing down his chances – bluffing or realistic?Posted 5 days ago
Every time I hear an interview with Geraint Thomas he seems to be playing down his chances – bluffing or realistic?
Realistic IMHO. I think he peaked last year after many years of gradual improvement – the stars aligned for him with a leader who did too much at the Giro. Bernal is the Ineos favourite for me, by some margin. I’d liek to be proved wrong, but don’t think I will be.Posted 5 days ago
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