2017 Tour de France: Stage 6 live race updates, blog

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    Team Sky won the first stage of La Vuelta a Espana (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

    The sprinters will get another two chances to shoot for glory at the Tour de France and the first of those before the mountains hit hard as Stage 6 takes the peloton over 216 kilometres from Vesoul to Troyes. Join The Roar for live coverage from 9:40pm (AEST).

    After Chris Froome slipped into yellow at the top of Planche Des Belles Filles on Stage 5, the attention turns back to the fast men on a stage that features only two Category 4 climbs.

    With Fabio Aru riding away to win yesterday’s stage and take the King of the Mountains jersey, that means he will be holding onto that no matter what happens on the 216 kilometre trip.

    Long stages have been a characteristic to start this year’s Tour, and this one is no different. With the temperatures soaring into the 30’s again today, albeit with the potential for crosswinds, it could be another slow day in the saddle.

    Starting out in Vesoul, the Côte de Langres will be the first climb reached, coming after 69 kilometres. It’s nothing more than a leg burner – 1.3 kilometres at 6.9 per cent.

    Interestingly, today’s stage is genuinely flat. Other flat stages have had plenty of rolling terrain that wasn’t categorised as climbs, and while there is still undulation on the profile, it’s not as pronounced as previous days.

    The intermediate sprint on today’s stage comes after 135 kilometres – or with 81 to go in Colombey-les-deux-Eglises.

    With Peter Sagan out of the race, these have taken on a much heavier role in deciding who will win the green jersey. For riders like Michael Matthews and Greg Van Avermaet who may survive during the hill stages to pick up points, intermediate sprints have become crucial.

    The second Category 4 climb to Côte de la colline Sainte-Germaine will follow shortly afterwards before a pancake-flat 62 kilometres to the finish line.

    The last kilometre itself is actually on a slight false flat, which will make the timing of a sprint absolutely pivotal to success. Go too early and you’re sure to be caught.

    Marcel Kittel has looked brilliant so far in the race and will be out for another stage win, while Arnaud Demare won the last flat stage. With Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan out, it may open the door for Andre Greipel and other non-pure sprinters in the form of Alexander Kristoff and Matthews, who are outright leaders of their team at this point.

    Sonny Colbrelli is another to watch today. He is a genuine fast finisher, but hasn’t had the lead out or form to contend so far.

    It’s hard to go past Kittel for another, but I’m going to. Greipel hasn’t sprinted brilliantly yet, but Lotto-Soudal are a professional outfit. I expect a day off sprinting might bring him into the picture for victory ahead of Kittel and Demare.

    Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Stage 6 from 9:40pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add your own comments in the section below.

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.