Five talking points from stage six of the Tour de France

Kittel doesn't need a lead out, it was damn hot out there and Eddy's long range sprint

No lead out, no worry for Kittel

Earlier in the year Marcel Kittel‘s position as the best sprinter in his own team came under scrutiny, thanks to the golden debut of Fernando Gaviria at the Giro d’Italia.

>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

With many questioning whether Kittel would stay at Quick-Step after this, it became clear that the Tour would define his status within the team.

The German, however, has taken it in his stride recording two sprint victories already and today he showed he could improvise, jumping from wheel to wheel after losing his lead out train up the road.

With Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) seemingly battling it out for the victory, the blonde haired rider launched his attack circumventing the others and winning by a bike length.

Adding two more Tour victories to his palmarès would be enough for anyone, but Kittel is showing he can fill the void left by Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish as the fastest man in the race.

Arnaud Demare really wants the green jersey

Arnaud Démare in green at the 2017 Tour de France (Sunada)

After getting his hands on the points classification jersey, Frenchman Démare has shown his willingness to keep the jersey with a fierce display at the intermediate sprint, contrasted by Marcel Kittel’s lack thereof.

Since Sagan’s expulsion, intermediate sprints have become competitive, with Michael Matthews (Sunweb) winning a relatively hard fought contest on stage five for the bulk of the points.

That image was reproduced today with Matthews and Démare going toe to toe for the points left behind by the day’s breakaway. Démare timed it well, beating his rivals at the 135km mark.

Unfortunately, you can’t help but think that Démare’s efforts mid-way through the stage cost him in that final sprint as Marcel Kittel used his reserves to power to the stage win.

However, it may be more down to Kittel’s perfectly timed attack that saw him breach the finish line well in front of Démare and André Greipel giving us a real sprinters competition.

Team Sky keep it simple

Chris Froome celebrates retaining yellow at the 2017 Tour de France stage six (Sunada)

Compared to BMC’s visible effort in stage five, Team Sky took a much more demure approach today staying never more than 10 riders from the front.

Naturally stage five and stage six have completely different objectives but Sky still have their unspoken control on the peloton.

Like a spell over the peloton, Chris Froome and co used today to take stock and make sure they kept their man up and in yellow with minimal fuss.

With the mountain stages split throughout the whole race, being a leader this early on will put the pressure on the British squad, but riders like Luke Rowe will be there to help Froome share the mental and tactical burden.

The weather continues to play a part

Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

The weather has played a major part in this race already with the first couple of stages having their fair share of rain; too much if you ask Alejandro Valverde.

To contrast that today’s stage was struggling with heat. Usually riders aren’t allowed to take food and drink from cars for the first 50km of the race. Race officials decided that that would be cut in half to 25km to combat the 35 degree heat that riders faced.

The heat got so much for some people that they had prepared with a parasol, unfortunately for some riders that parasol ended up on the road.

Edvald Boasson Hagen tries and fails

Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Poor old Edvald Boasson Hagen. With the departure of Cavendish, the Norwegian has had to step up and fill the void and today’s effort shows how admirably he did that.

Unfortunately Boasson Hagen is no Cavendish and with 800m to go, everyone’s favourite Scandinavian was dropped off by his lead lieutenant, Mark Renshaw, to try for victory against the fast men.

Not to baulk at a challenge the Boss attempted an already futile sprint from an obscene distance. The move could only make you think they had wanted to catch the sprint teams out but with such a boring stage, no one was going to let him get away that easy.

Despite starting his sprint from nearly a kilometre out Boasson Hagen finished in 13th showing to many while he is still a boss.