Australian Simon Gerrans is in possession of the yellow jersey through five stages of the Tour de France, leading the field with a time of 18:19:15. He’ll have plenty of work to do to retain his lead following Stage 6, however.
Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini are even with Gerrans in the general classification, followed by nine riders who are within 10 seconds of the overall lead. As is often the case in the marquee race, no one has clearly established a dominant lead in the early going.
But a familiar face surged to a victory in Stage 5, and he isn’t likely to go away.
Mark Cavendish turned in a tremendous performance on Wednesday, riding his way to a Stage 5 triumph in 5:31:51. The 28-year-old has now notched a victory in 24 Tour de France stages for his career, and he’ll look to build on that momentum as the race continues on Thursday.
Date: Thursday, July 4
Time: 8 a.m. EDT
Route: Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier
Length: 176 Kilometers
The 176-kilometer route for Stage 6 runs from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, and while the distance will allow a relatively easy ride on the flat terrain, wind could be a major factor in how riders attack the sixth leg of the race.
But given the stage’s short length, it also has the potential to open things up in the general classification. Should winds not prove to be a major factor, riders in the front of the group will have an opportunity to set up a sprint finish, which will delight the likes of Cavendish.
In previous years, the path to Montpellier has been marked with hills and winding paths that necessitated much more cautious riding as the winds swirled and whipped across the landscape. Given the change in terrain this year, sprinters needing a stage victory will see this as a golden opportunity to power through the finish.
It’s hard to ever bet against Cavendish, especially in a stage that will likely warrant a brisk pace and a strong final sprint.
With momentum from a Stage 5 victory in his pocket, the 2013 Giro d’Italia points classification winner is in terrific position to build on his prior performance with another stage victory on Thursday.
Winning the overall classification isn’t about winning every stage, but Cavendish certainly has an opportunity to notch a second this time around. As quoted by Zack Miller of NBCSports.com, the 28-year-old is reaching the point at which he feels he will hit his stride:
“Yeah, it’s been a little bit frustrating, but normally I don’t win until the fifth stage anyway so it’s pretty on the norm.”
Provided Cavendish doesn’t fall victim to the bunching that high winds could potentially cause, he has as good a chance as any to jump out in the lead and secure a Stage 6 win.