By Jonny Long published
With the 2020 Tour de France providing multiple mountain days in just the first week, any GC action on the uphills has been lacking, with contenders for the yellow jersey pretty much riding up the climbs together.
On stage four to Orcières-Merlette, Primož Roglič won the reduced bunch sprint for the line, taking valuable bonus seconds, while Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) finished one second ahead of the GC group atop Mount Aigoual on stage six.
Riders have been saying the race has been so hard that attacks have been neutered, while others don't want to waste any energy this early in the race. Richie Porte has also said stage six's summit finish wasn't as difficult as people had thought, making gapping any rivals less feasible.
"It was a good day to get done, don't think it was as hard as everyone predicted," Richie Porte said after the finish. "There wasn't a big GC battle.
"When you have two teams like Jumbo-Visma and Ineos to control [the group], it deters the attacks, but it was good to see the breakaway win."
People have been watching Ineos and Jumbo-Visma like hawks as they try to discern any insight into the form of each team and their yellow jersey candidates.
Ineos rode on the front up the final climb on stage six, with Michał Kwiatkowski saying this was because of the road surface, which posed more of a problem than the uphill gradient.
"We knew that the climb is pretty tricky in terms of its really bad surface," Kwiatkowski explained. "It was just basically just getting us out of trouble. Being in the wheels on that climb we’d suffer more, so we took the opportunity and we just rode on the front with our own speed, saving energy and trying to stay safe. Mission complete."
The Polish rider said his money was on the break today, but in future days Ineos may try and open their account with a stage win at some point.
"We were not afraid to take it on and try for the stage win even today. But that was a pretty strong breakaway with the names out there. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy task to shut that down and my money was on the breakaway today."
Jumbo-Visma have already taken two stage wins at this year's French Grand Tour, with Wout van Aert sprinting to victory on stage five the day after Primož Roglič's win.
The Dutch team also won three out of five stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné, the first indication of just how strong they were ahead of the Tour, but UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogačar thinks Jumbo-Visma have so far kept a bit in the tank at the three-week stage race.
"I think they're riding really well, more conservative than the Dauphiné," the Slovenian said. "So they're really racing smart now and we'll see more of them."
Stage seven provides a day off for GC contenders, before stage eight sees the peloton tackle the Col de Menté, Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.