The Tour de France peloton will tackle the longest stage in 21 years of the race on Friday when the riders taken on the 249.1km course to Le Creusot.
The long and lumpy stage features over 3000m of climbing in total, split across a string of punchy climbs in the second half of the day.
And the challenge of the extra-long stage will be one that tests the fitness of General Classification hopeful Primoz Roglic to the limit.
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Jumbo-Visma succeeded in guiding Roglic through Stage 6, but are more than aware that their race strategy hinges on how the Slovenian performs on Friday.
“We had to give his body [Roglic] the time, we hope he improves day by day and that we can still do something in this Tour,” Wout van Aert told Eurosport after Stage 6.
“When I saw him ride yesterday, it proved he is a real fighter.
“Everybody knows that doing something in GC all depends on how Primoz evolves. If we stay up there and Primoz gets better, then for sure we will fight, but there is still a question mark for everyone I guess.”
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As for Van Aert’s own GC hopes, the Belgian believes his chances have gone.
“For me the yellow jersey is not possible anymore.
“The two guys in front of me both have the goal to stay there and not lose time. I don’t really believe in this and would like to try and focus on stage wins.”
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Alpeci-Fenix rider Mathieu van der Poel leads the Tour de France after six stages.
But defending champion Tadej Pogacar is just eight seconds behind him in the general classification, and will be targeting Friday’s stage as a big opportunity to take the yellow jersey.
“[Today] was a normal stage, not as easy a stage. It was quite fast but a nice day out on the bike,” the 2020 Tour winner said.
“[Tomorrow] I really don’t know. It depends on other teams. I think it will be one of those classic days and it will be really hard.”
Who is top of the GC standings (yellow jersey)?
After Stage 6
- 1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 20:09:17
- 2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates +8
- 3. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma +30
- 4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep +48
- 5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech +1:21
- 6. Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies +1:28
- 7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo +1:29
- 8. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma +1:43
- 9. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers +1:44
- 10. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma +1:48
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