Tour de France 2017: Stage 6 preview

After the Vosges, stage 6 is an uncomplicated run between Vesoul and Troyes. This is what's known as 'La France Profonde' – deep France. La France Profonde is cultivated, rural, stable, sparsely populated, topographically unexciting and tricky to define. It's what links the many varied provinces of France, the glue that holds the regions together.

There'll be little to challenge the peloton in this particular part of La France Profonde. A pair of small climbs won't stretch the peloton so much as the sapping 'French flat' – the straight roads which rise up and over the undulations in the landscape. There's a sprint at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, the home of President Charles De Gaulle, the father of the Fifth Republic. De Gaulle himself described this region as "vast, rough and sad; woods, fields, crops and melancholy wasteland" with "quiet villages in which nothing has changed for millennia". Perhaps he, too, had sat through one too many long flat Tour stages through terrain like this.

By this point in the Tour de France, things will be starting to settle down into a pattern. Between the Düsseldorf TT, the uphill sprint in Longwy and La Planche des Belles Filles, there will be a rough shape to the GC in which the eventual winner and many of the top 10 will have started to emerge. The sprinters will also know who is sharp and who isn't – if the same rider won in Liège and Vittel, they'll be looking to test the resilience of the old French proverb, 'never two without three' and going for the hat trick. Those who have come close will make tactical tweaks, hoping that fractional improvement will be enough to turn a top three into a win. Either way, a sprint is highly likely.

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Baden Cooke says

"Stage 6 will see the riders in the saddle for another long day of 216km between Vesoul and Troyes. Riding through the Plateau de Langres, and passing through Colombeyles-Deux-Églises. With the intermediate sprint relatively early it is likely to be picked up by the breakaway riders and not affect the green jersey competition.

"At the 154km mark, the riders will hit the 3.1km Côte de la colline Sainte-Germaine category 4 climb. It'll then be the turn of the sprinter's teams to reel in the breakaway riders and prepare their lead out trains to take charge on the large avenues of the centre of Troyes."

Route profile

Route map

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