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- with his 12th Tour stage win.
Andrew Harvey:I predict plenty of walkers up that last kilometre. Yates may be backing himself, but I’m backing Thibaut Pinot. The cooler weather and steep gradients suit him to a tee. If not him then Egan Bernal.
Pinot has local knowledge too – he lives 20km from La Planche des Belles Filles, in Melisey, so has ridden up it more than any other rider in the race.
The gap to the main bunch is over five-and-a-half minutes now. Trek-Segafredo rider Giulio Ciccone is the highest ranked rider in the escape group, in 42nd place, one minute and 43 seconds behind maillot jaune Julian Alaphilippe, which means he is now the virtual leader overall.
Ciccone has got form in the hills too – he was King of the Mountains at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year.
Matt Taggart:When I first heard “La Planche des Belles Filles” I thought it sounded like the title of a French horror movie, then I looked at the stage profile and realised that I was correct!
Translated it means ‘Plank of the Beautiful Girls’. There are various theories about how it got its name, and none of them had a happy ending. Will things be different for Geraint Thomas or Adam Yates today?
Mike Lawson:Would love to see somebody swap onto a gravel bike with an ultra-compact chainring for that last KM.
Seriously, if you’re a domestique or a sprinter, would you consider walking up that slope at the end? I doubt it’d be much slower!
Let us know your thoughts on the finish – and who are you backing to win today’s stage?
The other escapees allowed Tim Wellens to take the King of the Mountains points uncontested on Wednesday, but that won’t be the case today. Xandro Meurisse, who is third in that category, is also in this breakaway and like Wellens he has a team-mate to help him out.
Right then, here is the full list of
riders in the escape group.
Three teams have two men
involved: Lotto-Soudal (Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens), Trek-Segafredo
(Julien Bernard and Giulio Ciccone), Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Xandro Meurisse and
The other are Benoit Cosnefroy
(AG2R-La Mondiale), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Serge Pauwels (CCC), Nikias
Arndt (Sunweb), Natnael Berhane (Cofidis), Fabien Grellier (Total Direct
Energie), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) and Andre Greipel (Arkea-Samsic)
The gap keeps growing. They are now more than three minutes clear as they approach today’s intermediate sprint, at Linthal.
Yates told BBC Sport: “I know this area well from when I raced for CC Etupes and lived in France. It’s a tricky day, but I won’t give too much away – we’ll see who has done their homework.
“But I will certainly be giving it a go, and I have to back myself because I love these sorts of days in the mountains.”
The proper racing has started now. A group of about 10 riders is currently trying to open up some daylight on the main bunch.
Thomas De Gendt is among them – again. German sprinter Andre Greipel is too.
Here’s a closer look at that new 1km of gravel road at the top of La Planche Des Belles Filles…
It is safe to say that the end of stage six is going to be a test of Geraint Thomas’s mettle, and the same goes for the other contenders for the General Classification.
Speaking to ITV4 on Wednesday about the La Planche Des Belles Filles, Thomas said: “It’s hard, I’ve done it before. I did it just before the Tour
de Suisse. I think that sort of climb favours more the punchy, pure climber –
say, Egan (Bernel), for one.
“In other teams, guys like Yatesy (Adam Yates) and Richie (Porte),
(Nairo) Quintana, those type of guys I think it suits but when you have got
form, you have got good form and it will be interesting to see where everyone
I mentioned 176 riders earlier, but there are actually only 175 men rolling through the streets of Mil.. I mean Mulhouse.
Sad news for New Zealand rider Patrick Bevin (no relation). He fractured a couple of ribs on stage four and cannot continue, so becomes the first casualty of this year’s race.
The riders are pedaling through the neutral zone in Mulhouse, which I am determined not to call Milhouse by mistake…
Copyright: Getty Images
Copyright: BBC Sport
The Tour has been up the steep ramps of La Planche Des Belles Filles before, but it will be a little different this time, at the end of their 160.5km trek from Mulhouse.
An extra kilometre has been added to the climb, but apparently not in the manner of that old Hugh Grant film ‘The Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain’.
Instead they have added a new gravel road, with an incline of 24%.
Welcome back to Le Tour, and welcome back to the Vosges
If you think of the bumps and lumps of Wednesday’s stage
five as a nice little aperitif for the high climbs to come later in this year’s race, then today’s test is a hefty hors d’oeuvre.
We’ve got seven climbs in all, and a summit finish that
should shake things up a bit at the top of the General Classification, so the
next few hours are going to be fun for us – I guarantee it – although the 176 riders may not agree.