• In the zone... Chris Froome has so far not put a step wrong this year. (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The sixth stage of Le Tour continues our journey westwards to Brittany, although the much-anticipated stage to the Côte de Mûr de Bretagne, the finishing scene from Stage 4 of the 2011 Tour, is still two days away...
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9 Jul 2015 - 3:31 PM  UPDATED 9 Jul 2015 - 4:07 PM

This day has also been eagerly awaited, though for different reasons. Two-thirds of the stage will be spent hugging the Upper Normandy cliffs of Seine-Maritime, and one only need do a Google image search to whet their appetite for what will surely take our collective breath away when SBS' live coverage begins tonight.

And where there are cliffs and oceans there is wind. And in cycling, where there is wind there are echelons; and where there are echelons there are invariably crashes and splits... Think back to Stage 2 to Zélande, or to March 29 this year when a wind-ravaged Gent-Wevelgem could have been easily described as pugilism on wheels.

Mountain passes & hills
Km 72.0 - Côte de Dieppe: 1.8 kilometre-long climb at 4% - category 4
Km 77.5 - Côte de Pourville-sur-Mer: 2 kilometre-long climb at 4.5% - category 4
Km 162.0 - Côte du Tilleul: 1.6 kilometre-long climb at 5.6% - category 4

On an aside, Le Havre, a city inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site a decade ago and the largest container port in France (although second to Marseille in traffic volume), is almost as old as the Tour itself. And, after a 20-year hiatus, this year marks the race's 20th visit to the city founded by King François I in 1517.

The first time the Tour came to Le Havre, it was the stage finish for the 1911 edition of the race; the penultimate of fifteen legs starting in Cherbourg and ending a lazy 224 miles (361 kilometres) later...

For stage winner Paul Duboc the feeling was bittersweet.

Not because he had already won three stages, but because he fell ill when in a winning position - the victim of a saboteur who handed the Frenchman a poisoned bidon, apparently. Duboc's fans blamed race leader Gustave Garrigou, who led for all but one day.

Alas, on July 30 and 3,321 miles (5,344km) later - some 2,000km further than the peloton will ride this year - as the race had come full circle and returned to the French capital, Duboc, among 28 finishers from a starting field of 84, would still finish second overall.

Christian Prudhomme, Directeur du Tour de France, says:

"In the amazing scenery of the cliffs of Seine-Maritime area including those of Étretat, the stage will be breathtaking with over a 120 kilometres to cover along the sea, and there will be many opportunities to shine. Each one of the teams could find an interest in attacking by exploiting the often windy roads of the Normandy coastline."

Matt White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director, says:

"It'll be another sprint but it's 700-800 hundred metres at 5-7 percent to the line. So it's a flat day, but it has the potential for chaos as well because of the wind; I don't expect a full group to arrive at the bottom of the last climb (of the Côte d'Ingouville) because of that.

"It can't be overstated: the wind will have a massive effect. A calm day compared to a day that's blowing a gale will have a huge effect on the peloton and how many guys arrive at the finish...

"Maybe it's that little bit too hard for Cav' and Greipel; maybe it's a stage for Kristoff or Sagan... it's a tricky one (to predict)."

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