Another fascinating battle in prospect today in the medium mountains before we reach the hors catégorie monsters at the weekend.
Roglič is looking solid so far, as is his team Jumbo-Visma, and stage 4 to Orcières-Merlette was a tasty precursor to this second round of GC jockeying. But who will take the stage following the ascent of Mont Aigoual? It's complicated...
The Rouleur panel's picks, and Cycling Mole's punt.
Stage 6: Le Teil - Mont Aigoual (191km)
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) This looks like a finish that might suit Yates well and after missing out to Alaphilippe already, he will be wanting to get a stage win under his belt before the GC contenders and their teams really start to dominate on the more challenging mountainous days.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) I haven't seen Carapaz at the Tour yet, but I'm told he's there. Lurking, hiding, waiting, playing a strong deputy sheriff game at Ineos. Pure speculation, but maybe, just maybe, Ineos's number two will want to make a statement to show how strong he is...
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) Mont Aigoual! From The Racer! Not a particularly challenging finish but an iconic one for followers of fiction. The preceding Col de la Lusette is where the damage will be done on this finish, with two kilometres of over 10% gradient towards the top. Another GC day, and this time one where we'll see whether the favourite is as strong as we think he is.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) He’s 21-years-old, he’s Slovenian, he’s in the white jersey, he’s already finished runner-up to Roglic on stage 4 – Pog is sensational. And he is going to win this one. There, I‘ve said it.
Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation) Had this been a summit finish, this could go to a pure climber, but with a finish on the flat, I'm betting this one comes from a breakaway. Maybe one for Nils Politt, if he’s given the freedom to go with his gut. Talk about a punt.
Cycling Mole says...
Another day and another close thing for me, with Cees Bol just getting pipped to the line by Wout Van Aert.
Stage 6 is another day for the climbers, but it’s not your average mountain stage. We have a virtually pan flat day until we get to the end. Then the bunch are faced with a monster of a cat 1 climb, before a grind up to the finishing line. The fact that it’s not a mountaintop finish means that the advantage would normally swing to the break, but that all depends on the attitude of the peloton. With Mitchelton-Scott now in the race lead, I think they’ll be happy to see a group of non-GC riders escape up the road, never to be seen again. It’s a long race and you have to take care of your domestiques.
Only Miles is going with the breakaway, but his pick of Nils Politt is one of the worst picks of all time. There are 172 riders left in the race, I can think of 150 riders who have a better chance than the German. Ben, Nick and Ian are all on the tried and trusted. It is clear that Roglič, Pogačar and Yates are very strong just now and will be the big favourites from the GC group. Andy is taking a risk, but I think he has his Ineos tinted glasses on, Carapaz doesn’t look capable of winning a Tour stage just now.
Despite the easy looking profile, I’m taking a big risk and going for the breakaway. Now, correctly predicting a breakaway stage is an art form, correctly predicting the winner from a breakaway stage is a lottery. As this is a tipping competition I could have played it safe, but that’s not my style. I’ll go for Alexey Lutsenko.