Today’s stage: Binche-Longwy (219.9 kilometers)
It’s the longest of the 21 stages of the Grande Boucle 2022. But it’s unlikely to be the liveliest in the fight for final victory. With three difficulties listed, from 3e and 4e categories, including two in the last 15 kilometers (the hills of Montigny-sur-Chiers and Pulventeux), the profile of this 6e stage acts as a transition between the cobblestones of the North and the first arrival at altitude, Friday, at the super board of Belles-Filles, in the Vosges massif.
The peloton will start from Binche, in Belgium, where it will cover the first third of the race, before crossing the Ardennes, the Meuse and the Meurthe-et-Moselle, where the finish suits a puncher profile. If skimming is not done on the dry coast of Pulventeux (800m at 12.3% on average) 5.3 km from the finish, victory will be disputed on the Côte des Religieuses (1.6 km at 5.8% on average), at the top of which the stage finish in Longwy will be judged.
On paper, the profile of this 6e stage suited Julian Alaphilippe perfectly. In the absence on this Tour of the double world champion, the inevitable Wout van Aert emerges as the natural favorite. three times 2e and once a stage winner since the start in Copenhagen, the yellow jersey shows that he is currently the best puncher in the peloton. It remains to be seen whether the Belgian will have the green light from Jumbo-Visma to play his card or whether he will be at the service of his leaders, Jonas Vingegaard and – now to a lesser extent after the cobblestone stage on Wednesday where he lost of time – Primoz Roglic in a team strategy against heavy favorite Tadej Pogacar.
Very discreet, spared by the falls since the start of the Grande Boucle, Benoit Cosnefroy is tackling this stage in the best conditions, the finish in Longwy suiting him well. A specialist in short and explosive climbs, the AG2R-Citroën rider could attempt an outing in one of the two difficulties of the final, the coast of Pulventeux and that of the Religious. A great lover of classics, “Beubeu” distinguished himself this season by finishing at a frustrating 2are places in the Amstel Gold Race or the Brabant Arrow. This time, it could be the right one for the native of Cherbourg (Normandy).
“I was drooling on my handlebars, traversing each cobbled section trying to motivate myself. »
With his 61 kg all wet, Sepp Kuss is not really cut out for the cobbles. The American climber of the Jumbo-Visma knew it and his objective for the 5e stage of the Tour that looks like a “mini Paris-Roubaix” was just: ” To survive. “Anyway, the only way I could have helped my teammates was if there had been a problem with the bike”he summarizes on arrival.
Dane Jonas Vingegaard, 2e in 2021 in Paris, had precisely a problem of this nature 35 kilometers from the line: after a puncture, he took that of another of his teammates, the Belgian Nathan Van Hooydonck. But this one was too big. He had to stop a second time to retrieve one of his size. ” I told Sepp to give him his, but he understood that he had to stop right away when we weren’t yet at Jonas’ level…”will later explain Wout van Aert. In the meantime, the recovery car was already there.
Detour of the Tour
The Tour de France is moving abroad for the second time this year after the big start in Denmark. Binche, a French-speaking city in Belgium whose carnival is renowned, hosts the departure village of the day. At the beginning of July, no “ Gilles”, the disguised characters at the heart of Belgian carnivals in the streets of Binche, but cyclists who are probably unfamiliar with Walloon traditions. And yet, the week of parades organized every year during the month of February is an institution. Recognized by Unesco as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003, the local carnival would take place since 1394. The Belgian Philippe Gilbert, dean of this Tour – 40 years since July 5 – n’ did not plan to dress up.
In the retro
In 2017, Peter Sagan is still at the top of his game. With his beautiful world champion jersey, the Slovak is almost unbeatable in a bump sprint. In Longwy, the Côte des Religieuses whets the appetite with an average percentage of 5.8%.
Despite the favorite sign, despite his rivals screwed to his rear wheel or even this heaving when making his first attack, Sagan remains imperturbable and rides his bike in the last 300 meters before getting ahead of Michael Matthews and Dan Martin on the line.
The 2017 vintage looks promising for him, but turns sour the next day. Sagan is disqualified for having caused the fall of Mark Cavendish during the sprint of… Vittel.
The broom wagon
There is a place where, by nature, a large part of the Tour’s followers spend time: the press room. Every day, after having gleaned some reactions from the riders in the start area and before going to collect their impressions at the finish, it is there that many journalists follow the race, broadcast on several screens. You need a place capable of accommodating several hundred people and meeting very specific specifications – having tables spaced 1.10 meters apart very carefully, for example (don’t worry, the Amaury Sport Organization teams, the company manager of the Tour, do not pass either with a tape measure to check that it is respected to the nearest millimeter). Generally, the follower is pampered there: a buffet, a coffee machine and small gifts from the region visited.
On Wednesday, it was at the Arenberg pit, more precisely in the hanging room, that we took up residence for a few hours and we were able to taste a delicious carbonnade there… And if Denmark was very focused on totes bags, the North lives up to its reputation: the bags are made of paper, but at least there is beer!
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