After five days predominantly favoring the sprinters and punchers, Stage 6 of the Criterium du Dauphine signals the start of three difficult days in the high mountains for the general classification contenders.
The 148-kilometre journey starts in the town of Parc des Oiseaux and heads along flat parcour until the 40-kilometre mark before the first of three climbs on the stage is completed.
The third category climb of the Côte de Corlier, which is 6.4 kilometres long at 5.4 per cent is just a teaser of the last climb to come.
With the riders over the top of the first climb after 46 kilometres, it is an easy descent back onto flat roads for over 60 kilometres before the road rises once again with 40 kilometres to go with the riders completing the penultimate climb of proceedings.
The category four climb of the Côte de Jongieux is the easiest on the day’s route at 3.3 kilometres with an average gradient of 5 per cent.
At the top of the penultimate climb, it is a short descent before the riders set themselves for the first hors category climb of the race, the Mont du Chat.
The climb is 8.7 kilometres long and averages out at over 10 per cent. It is steepest in the middle part of the climb, with sections touching above 14 percent on a few occasions.
With the stage not featuring much climbing before the final climb, I expect the pace heading into and onto the climb to be ferocious.
Expect Movistar and Sky to control the pace, as they often do in the mountains across any stage race in Europe.
Once the climb is crested with 15 kilometres to go, it is a fast technical descent downhill to the finishing town of La Motte-Servolex.
The GC contenders have already had their first test, with Richie Porte (BMC) impressively taking out the individual time trial on Stage 4 comfortably ahead of other contenders for the overall win including Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and reigning Dauphine and Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky).
It will be interesting to see if the main contenders save their energy for the high mountains in Stage 7 or 8, or try their luck on the climb and down the tricky descent to the finish of the stage.
A break could stay away, however, with there only being five stage to date, the riders wanting to get up the road may not be far enough down on GC to allow them to take the stage.
Watch out for a descending masterclass by AG2R’s Romain Bardet, who will be looking to take back some time after losing over 2 minutes to Richie Porte in the time trial yesterday.