Jul 10, 2014

Tour de France Stage 6 Review/Stage 7 Preview

Stage 6 Review

Stage winner: Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)
After a terrible start to this Tour, Greipel finally roared to life in a chaotic sprint where none of the lead out trains fired and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) nearly stole the stage with a late attack. He was helped by a complete misrad by Europcar leadout man Kevin Reza who pulled Kwiatkowski back only to realize his sprinter Bryan Coquard was no longer on his wheel and triple stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) having punctured in the closing kilometers. Still, Greipel was very good in this sprint and, with no lead outs present for anyone (probably an advantage given the failing grade so far from his team) might have challenged Kittel had he been in the finale.

Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
No incidents for Nibali today, unlike many in the field who crashed on the wet roads or were gapped late in the crosswinds leading to the stage finish.

The same cannot be said for some others as Thiabult Pinot (FDJ) lost 59 seconds in the crosswinds, a rough time loss for someone hoping for a high GC finish and also hoping to win the white jersey.

Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Another day and another frustrating day for Sagan where he extended his points lead while watching the stage win elude him once again. Given the negative riding that happens whenever he has to chase and his lack of true turbo speed in the sprint, Sagan is going to have to invent another way to get his stage win this year, possibly either by attacking late in a stage or going in the breakaway.

King of the Mountains: Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis)
None of his competitors went in the break today, so Lemoine got another free pass to keep the polka dot jersey. With just two category 4 climbs, both late in the stage, expect Lemoine to keep the jersey again tomorrow as the break should be caught before the final climb (unless it stays away entirely).

White Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to be worn by Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
Same as it has been. The only item of true note is the time loss be Pinot mentioned in the Yellow Jersey section.

Tactical Masterclass: Omega Pharma-Quick Step
After a week of mostly failure tactically in the sprints, OPQS got it right in the crosswinds today, dropping Pinot, one of the contenders along with Kwiatkowski. Additionally, their tactics and riding in the crosswinds burned Giant-Shimano out earlier than usual, eliminating that lead out train. The only minor issue was Kwiatkowski riding away from the lead out train and leaving designated sprinter Mark Renshaw behind, but there is a chance that was planned and Kwiatkowski didn’t have the legs to finish the stage.

Tactical Blunder: FDJ
Pinot should not be losing time in the crosswinds. He and his team should know better. Additionally, team sprinter Arnaud Demare, after being one of many crash victims during the stage, also missed the split and therefore was not around to contest the sprint, one he might have had a good chance of winning given Kittel’s puncture.

Stage 7 - Epernay - Nancy

Expectations entering the stage: There is a chance the breakaway is going stay away. The last two days have been hard days and there are two climbs near the end that could hurt the sprinters. Unless Sagan and Cannondale decide this is the day they have to win, the sprinter teams might let this go and take a rest considering the stage is 234 km long. If it is a sprint, expect Sagan to win it from a reduced group or the full bunch to be there for a Kittel special.

Jersey’s in play
  • Yellow Jersey - If Nibali is going to drop the jersey to drop the responsibility of defending it for a few days, he might allow someone high on GC but completely non-threatening in the long run to go in the break and try to take the jersey. Names like Albasini, Bakelants and Marcato are no threat to Nibali and are within 4 minutes. If one of them is in the break and nobody chases, the yellow jersey could change hands.
  • Polka Dot Jersey - Same scenario again. Lemoine needs points or he need Biel Kadri in second to score none. Again. If this looks familiar, stages 4 and 6 were the same scenario.

GC items of note: If anything changes, it is because the break stays away. The true pecking order once the race reaches the mountains will be unaffected.

Stage Pick: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

This looks like a good stage for Sagan to make his stand given a climb that might eliminate the likes of Kittel and Greipel with 5 km to go. Expect Cannondale to ride this hard to attempt to drop the other sprinters and then spring Sagan for the win in a reduced sprint (in other words what stage 2 should have been except for the late Nibali attack.

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