Tour de France 2018 stage six preview: A gruelling finish on Mur-de-Bretagne where Chris Froome could take a stand

Lawrence Ostlere
The Independent

This 181km Tour de France stage six from Brest to the gruelling Mur-de-Bretagne is a hilly profile with a tough finish which offers an opportunity for one of the big general classification riders to take a stand.

Mur-de-Bretagne is nicknamed the “Breton Alpe d’Huez”, and taking it on once is hard enough; this stage finishes with a circuit of two climbs up the famous 2km road which averages a severe 6.9% gradient.

Not a day for the sprinters then, and even the punchy one-day specialists like Alejandro Valverde might find themselves trailing some of the better climbers like Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte and Chris Froome.

History says the Mur-de-Bretagne can be a signpost for a rider’s performance in the rest of the Tour; Cadel Evans won there in 2011 and went on to win the Tour. However those big GC riders – Froome included – will make their first priority simply staying close to the front of the main bunch and out of trouble.

Get caught up in a crash here and it could prove seriously damaging, such will be the difficulty of closing the gaps later in the day.

It is a stage which invites a breakaway, with two early categorised climbs to attack, but it would need to be a strong, cohesive group in order to escape all the way to the finish line. Almost anything can happen on a day like this one, and that is the beauty of it.

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