On three previous occasions the Tour de France visited La Planche des Belles Filles with Aru (2017), Nibali (2014) and Froome (2012) taking the spoils. Back then, the one-way haul up was 5.9 kilometres long and its average slope sat at 8.5%. This time, the organisation adds an unpaved forest road averaging almost 10%, while a ramp at 24% peaks out 100 metres before the line. This section is too steep for gravel, so the final metres are on asphalt.
Obviously, this is the terrain for the pure mountain goats, lightweights with an explosive acceleration. But you also need stamina in the 6th stage to survive the climb. Moreover, La Planche des Belles Filles is the last one in a long list of Vosges climbs that are on the menu. Soon after the start, the riders venture deep into the heart of the region. The race gradually builds up to its zenit with, in order of appearance, Le Markstein, Grand Ballon, Col du Hundsruck, Ballon d’Alsace, Col des Croix and Col des Chevrères.
The combination of the Col des Chevrères and La Planche des Belles Filles is an interesting one, especially because of the placing of a point-bonus at the summit of the former. With 8, 5 and 3 seconds up for grabs at the former summit GC riders might be tempted to attack on the Chevrères, which is a 3.5 kilometres climb at 9.5%. The riders plunge into Plancher-Les-Mines before 4 kilometres of false flat leads onto the final climb.
In short, the 6th stage is the tonic to ignite the GC fireworks. A brutal onslaught of climbs with an inhumanly final climb for desert.
Favourites 6th stage 2019 Tour de France
*** Romain Bardet, Adam Yates, Michael Woods
** Mikel Landa, Alejandro Valverde, Dylan Teuns, Egan Bernal
* Thibaut Pinot, Daniel Martin, Enric Mas, Julian Alaphilippe
Take a look at the route of the 6th stage on the Tour de France.
Tour de France 2019 stage 6: profiles
Click on the images to zoom