Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cère - Montauban, 190.5km
Oh man, another sprint stage?
What's It About?
Getting to within striking distance of the Pyrenees, and giving another chance to the sprinters. This stage starts in Arpajon-sur-Cère, a small enough place that likes to call itself, and I quote, "rurban." It goes through the Cantal and Aveyron regions before reaching Montauban, a bigger city, apparently built mostly of red brick. The Pyrenees come between here and the next chance for a sprint, in Montpellier.
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Each stage we bring you suggestions regarding the local fare from AmyBC. Check out her blog Winebookgirl for more.
Wine: Vignobles Arbeau Fronton On L'Appelle Negrette
Jancis Robinsonspeciality of Fronton near Toulouse producing supple, perfumed, wine for early drinking.
Food: Saint Agur Cheese is a mild, very creamy blue. newcomer on the French blue scene, Saint Agur has only been made since 1988. In spite of its novelty, it has become one of the more popular French blues, perhaps owing to its rich creaminess.
Few in number, but not totally absent - the race heads south-west without doubling back too much, as you can see on the map:
The stage starts above 600 metres and descends to below 100, after a series of categorised and uncategorised hills.
However, the last forty kilometres of the stage are flat. And since the mountain points available aren't in too big amounts, there won't be much enthusiasm in getting them. Oh, and that intermediate sprint? Well done Peter, chalk up 15 there.
The run-in is...interesting. Three roundabouts in the last three kilometres, with one right before the finish on the Avenue du 10e Regiment de Dragons, which is so much more fun if you don't translate it properly. But yeah, that's a lot of corners.
Riders to Watch
Once again, I have to say that this is one for the trio of Marcel Kittel, André Greipel and Mark Cavendish. I've written off Cavendish before, but I see that it wasn't a good idea to do that - he seems to be close to being back to his old self. I do have doubts about his train though, even if wheelsurfing may be a good method for this finale, and I can't deny that he was the fastest on the two pure sprints so far.
Another train you could be justified in doubting is Marcel Kittel's Etixx team, who dropped him off too early on stage one, and in a terrible position on stage 3. However, they arrived out of nowhere to put him in the right place for a stage win on Tuesday, so perhaps they are finally back to normal. He surprised me by winning on the uphill finish of stage 4, so perhaps he's finally dialled in after missing two opportunities.
Greipel has the best train, but he doesn't do so well on technical finishes, and I'm beginning to doubt he has the speed of Cavendish and Kittel.
If it doesn't go to one of those, watch out for Groenewegen, Sagan and maybe McLay.
Pick to Win
Kittel. I cannot stop picking him for these stages, but this is his day. And if I don't pick him now, he'll definitely win.