Tour de France 2024 stage six preview - a straight sprint into Dijon

Stage six is the second flattest stage of the race

Date: Thursday July 4, 2024
Distance: 164km
Start location: Mâcon
Finish location: Dijon
Start time: 13:35 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:19 CET

For viewers of the Tour de France who tune in as much to sample the gastronomical delights being showcased as for the racing itself, stage six is one not to miss. The stage takes place exclusively in Burgundy, the region of France with wines probably more famous than any other, and the one with the most appellations. The riders will set off from Mâcon, known for its Pouilly-Fuissé white wine made from the Chardonnay grape, and head north through the vineyards where Burgandy’s famous chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are grown into Côte-d'Or for a finish in Dijon. Here, it’s not just wine that needs to be sampled, but everything from blackcurrant liqueur to gingerbread and Lanvin chocolate — and, above all, Dijon mustard. The same topography that makes this area so conducive to winemaking also gives this mustard its unique appeal, as the acidic juice of unripened grapes from the vineyards (known as verjuice) are used in place of vinegar to give it its distinct pungent, sharp taste. 

Dijon was the capital of the Dukedom of Burgundy, and was as a result one of the leading European cities during the Middle Ages. It also escaped relatively unscathed during World War Two bombings compared to other French cities, and therefore much of its historical architecture has been preserved. One such treasure, the Gothic Notre-Dame church, has an owl sculpted on it that has become the symbol of the town, and any superstitious riders hoping for success today might want to test out the local belief that stroking it grants you a wish.

Any rider who isn’t a bunch sprinter will need more than a little luck to stand a chance of winning stage six. The parcours is the flattest of the race so far, with the short Col du Bois Clair that comes just 10km into the stage the only climb of the whole day. In fact, with a total elevation gain of just 1,000m, it’s the second flattest road stage of the whole Tour. It’s a pleasant day in the saddle in terms of scenery, too, with plenty of lakes, forests and quaint small villages passed through as they traverse through Burgundy. The riders will have to be careful to stay switched on, and it’s on seemingly innocuous days like this that crashes can occur.

The Tour has finished in Dijon a total of 13 times, but not since 1997, when a controversial finish saw both Bart Voskamp and Jan Heppner relegated for nearly dismounting each other in a two-up sprint, and the win therefore going to the third rider on the road, Italian Mario Traversoni. The flat parcours, and 800m finishing straight, means a repeat breakaway success will be very unlikely. 

Route profile sourced via ASO

Contenders

Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) secured the record-breaking 35th stage win on stage five in spectacular fashion. His team positioned him well from 30km to go and delivered him to the line where he launched his winning sprint. On a high from making history and another sprint opportunity for the taking, could we see Cavendish go for one more?

Just beaten by Cavendish was Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who has not been able to secure himself a stage win yet in the two sprint opportunities. However, after being involved in the late crash on stage four, Philipsen looked to have recovered well and secured a second-place finish on stage five. His team did extremely well to position him well in the final kilometre after being further back with 2km to go. But with two stages now gone without a win, he’ll be even more determined to secure this stage. 

Third on stage five was Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X Mobility), even with a crash 28km to go, he still managed to contest the sprint. If he can deliver a similar performance, he could take the stage victory for his Uno-X Mobility team. Fabio Jakobsen (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) is creeping up the rankings, with a sixth on stage four and a fifth place on stage five. He has looked strong so far, as has his team, so we expect him to perform well in the bunch sprint. Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) could also be a strong contender for the stage win, however, he suffered a crash during the last hundred metres of the sprint on stage five and it is unclear whether or not he suffered a major injury. If Pedersen is given the all-clear, he's a rider who could take the stage in Dijon. 

Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco Alula) are also key riders in this stage. They’ve both been in the top 10s for the sprints and they’ll both be desperately wanting a stage win in this year’s Tour de France. Current green jersey Biniam Girmay (Intermaché-Wanty), who already has a stage win at this race, could also be a contender for this stage, as could Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), and Sam Bennett (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team).

Stage six winner prediction

We're saying it will be third time lucky for Jasper Philipsen and backing him for the stage win in Dijon.

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