STAGE SIX: Girona – Barcelona
Thursday July 9
WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
After four days of edging along the Mediterranean coast, the Tour hits Spain. Today’s stage starts in Girona, a hub for English-speaking pro cyclists over the last decade. The Garmin squad currently use it as their European base.
Today’s route is full of ups and downs, with five climbs. However, none are tougher than third-category. The wind could be an issue as the bunch heads to the Costa Brava through party towns like Lloret de Mar, before moving back inland.
After the fourth-category Côte de la Conreria, it’s 23 kilometres to Barcelona and the short-and-sharp hilltop finish on the Montjuïc. The climb rises 70 metres above Spain’s second largest city in the space of two kilometres, with a section of 7% at the foot.
Cycling Weekly spoke to Dan Martin before today’s stage; he’s not riding, but thinks this stage is a lot harder than many people have been expecting. With rain a possibility, the twisting, turning, bumpy coastal roads could well suit a breakaway, said Martin.
Stage six map and profile>>
Estimated finish time – 17.14 CEST
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
If yesterday’s stage was more comparable to a Classic than a Grand Tour stage, today’s could well be similar.
The route once again flanks the Mediterranean for large parts of the day, the crosswinds from which have already wreaked havoc with those caught napping.
However, it’s the hilltop finish in Barcelona atop the Montjuïc climb, that is a little like the Mur de Huy, although not as steep.
In all likelihood, it’ll be too steep a slope for the pure sprinters, so watch out for the Classics men rising to the top as well as any overall contenders who will not want to risk losing any time if it splits.
Lance Armstrong is separated from the yellow jersey by just hundredths of a second. With the race heading into the Pyrenees tomorrow, if he can snatch yellow from Cancellara, he will carry a significant psychological advantage over Contador. Plus, it will also make it more difficult for the Spaniard to attack Armstrong if he’s in yellow.
MEN TO WATCH
Gerald Ciolek – Ciolek has been there or there abouts in the Tour before but this year he is not working for Cavendish. The uphill finish looks tailor made for the German who can also climb well.
Oscar Freire – Freire is a versatile sprinter and if he can make it up the climb without too many problems, he will take some beating in the dash to the line.
Filippo Pozzato – Pozzato has a proven track record in tough first-week Tour stages, triumphing last year in Autun and on an uphill finish in Saint-Brieuc in 2004. The recently-crowned Italian champion will be in the thick of the action today.
Kim Kirchen – Winner of Flèche Wallonne last year, Kirchen thrives when the road tilts upwards so watch out for ‘Grim’ Kim.
Juan Antonio Flecha – The Argentinean-born Classics man calls Barcelona home, so he will be extra-motivated to attack today. Also, we want to see that superb arrow-firing victory celebration one more time…
CW’S TIP TO WIN
We’re plumping for Gerald Ciolek; a handy climber and an even handier sprinter.
WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS?
Yellow – Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
Green – Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC)
Polka-dot – Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux)
White – Tony Martin (Team Columbia-HTC)
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