South Africa’s Daryl Impey has won the ninth stage of the Tour de France, beating Belgian rider Tiesj Benoot in a two-man sprint.
Another transitional stage that will favour the sprinters greets the riders as Stage 6 of the Tour de France sees the peloton head from Vesoul to the finishing line in Troyes.
After the first general classification battle yesterday on the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles, the peloton will be wanting a simple day in the saddle. Luckily for them, the relatively flat parcour will offer the perfect chance for a recovery day ahead of the difficult stages to come.
There are only three obstacles to contend with on the days route, with two categorised climbs and an intermediate sprint on the menu for the peloton today.
The two categorised climbs come after 69 and 154 kilometres completed on the stage on the stage respectively.
The first of the two is the fourth category climb of the Cote de Langres, which is a 1.3 kilometres climb with an average gradient of 6.3 percent, with slopes close to 9 per cent. It is completed after 69 kilometres of racing.
A long section of lumps and bumps along the French countryside will take the peloton to the intermediate sprint point in the town of Colombey Les Deux Eglises after 135 kilometres. As the riders go through the intermediate sprint, they will descent immediately down to the final climb of the day.
The fourth category climb of the Cote de la colline Sainte-Germaine averages just 4.4 per cent for 3.1 kilometres.
At the top of this climb, the riders will have just over 60 kilometres still to complete before they hit the sprint in Troyes.
Other than a few hills, the run from the final climb is predominantly downhill, with the final ten kilometres being along flat roads.
Positioning will be key from the ten kilometres to go point, as the riders negotiate three ninety degree turns coming through the town of Villechetif.
However, if you were poorly positioned going through the town, there is still time to move up, with plenty of straight sections of road before the riders hit the city of Troyes inside the final two kilometres.
A ninety degree left flows into a long gradual right hander, which leads into the final kilometres, with the riders then straightening themselves up for a dash to the line in the final 500 metres.
Even though the course is a tad lumpy, there should be no reason why Marcel Kittel (Quickstep Floors) can’t take another stage win here. However, his team will need to do a much better in positioning the German, because their effort on Stage 4 was horrible.
Current green jersey wearer Arnaud Demare (FDJ) has the confidence of a stage win, and will be looking to continue to open the gap on his fellow sprinters in that classification.
Lotto-Soudal have failed to fire so far this race, with Andre Griepel being a long way off his form from the past. Today, after the loss of both Cavendish and Sagan from the race, there is much more of an opportunity to take a win.
Other riders to look out for include John Degenkolb (Trek Segafredo), UAE Team Emirates (Ben Swift), Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Dylan Gronewegen (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Adrian Petit (Direct Energie), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) and Dan McLay (Fortuneo).