The defending champion said he enjoyed a relaxing day in the sunshine on a relatively uneventful stage six of the Tour de France

Tour de France race leader and Team Sky captain Chris Froome says that he “enjoys the long days” of 200-plus kilometres suited to the sprinters.

A parasol blowing into the road ahead of the favourites and a sprint win by Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) highlighted the hot and sticky 216-kilometre stage six into the Champagne territory of Troyes.

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“I think they are part of a Grand Tour, I have no issue with them,” Froome said. “You might get a same result if you have a 50-kilometre shorter stage with a sprint at the end.

“I’m not complaining, I actually enjoy these long days. Being a bit more relaxed, you get a little bit more time to speak with the riders than if the race is full-on and time to take in the atmosphere.

“And on that, there’s been a great ambiance on the road so far.”

Chris Froome on stage six of the 2017 Tour de France (Sunada)

The Tour rolled east from Vesoul on mostly flat roads into Champagne land. An escape fought for the stage win, but most believed that a sprint would settle the day and attention turned to the final 20 kilometres.

“It was a great stage for us climbers, these stages don’t come along often. This is one of the most relaxed stages we’ve ever done in the Tour de France,” Froome said.

“For us, getting the breakaway right is important so we don’t have that much work to do behind. On sprint days like today, we can defend and let the sprint teams do the lion’s share of the work.

“For us, it’s about staying out of trouble. It was very enjoyable. You can just relax a little bit more. It was very welcome.”

After a classification battle on stage five, nothing happened between yellow jersey Froome and his rivals today. So quiet was the day, questions centred on a parasol that drifted into the road mid-way through the stage.



“It did just pop up from nowhere. There was a little gust of wind at that point, I think it blew from a spectator in the road,” Froome added.

“It’s quite scary, you just racing a long and one moment there’s a parasol. That’s the nature of the Tour, things do happen at a drop of a hat, you have to be ready for everything.”

Critics argued recently that shorter stages make for better racing and television. Fans were treated to a show last year when Froome, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana battled for the entire 100 kilometres to Formigal in the Vuelta a España.

A similar stage in the Critérium du Dauphiné in June had viewers on the edge of their seats.