It was a hard, flat run-in to Mont Aigoual, but many expected that the penultimate climb, the Col de la Lusette, 11.8 kilometres at 7.2 per cent, was going to be the scene of attacks by the general classification contenders.
In the end, a venture up the road by lowly-placed Fabio Aru was the closest the race for the main bunch got to serious action, with a surge by Julian Alaphilippe in the final few hundred metres seeing the Frenchman gain back a second on the general classification.
He accelerated past Bernal and Michal Kwistakowski, with the pair not closing Alaphilippe down before the line. Mollema sprinted around the INEOS Grenadiers to lead the peloton home, and questioned Bernal's ability to respond to Alaphilippe's acceleration.
"I was a bit surprised that Bernal had to leave a gap," Mollema told Dutch TV station NOS. “He said 'easy easy' to Kwiatkowski in the last 200 metres. Maybe he didn't want to go any faster or he didn't feel well."
Bernal himself played down any poor form or injury, after a bad back prevented him from finishing the Critérium du Dauphiné.
"I'm feeling a bit better every day and today I felt much better," said Bernal according to El Tiempo. "We have to remain patient and recover as well as possible."
"It was a pretty hard day, and we're going to feel it in the legs. The final climb was hard, so there were no attacks. It's one of those days that will be felt in the legs the following day and adds to the accumulated fatigue in the final week."
Other contenders react
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) 21st on stage, 2nd overall +3 seconds
“Ineos did a really hard tempo. For us it was ok and obviously also for all the rest,” Roglic told Sporza. “It was not totally flat so at the end there were some hills. The breakaway was super strong. It was a nice day for us again, everything under control.”
Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) 15th on stage, 6th overall +13 seconds
“We don't have to show ourselves every day," Dumoulin told NOS after placing 15th on the stage. “We thought that was fine. We have to show ourselves on the right days. Today other teams were allowed to do the work. That's perfect and I'm riding OK myself.
Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers), 7th on stage, 42nd overall + 12 minutes and 54 seconds
“Being on the wheels on that climb, we knew we would suffer more so we took an opportunity and we just rode on the front at our own speed, saving energy trying to stay safe and, I think, mission complete.”
“We were not afraid to take it on and try for the stage win, even today. But obviously that was going to be a pretty strong breakaway if you look at the names out there."
I directly knew it as not going to be an easy task for Mitchelton-Scott to close that down. My money was on the breakaway today.”
AG2R La Mondiale directeur sportif Julien Jurdie
“Nobody dared to attack. Everybody is afraid of the Jumbo-Visma train riding behind an attacker.”
The Tour de France continues with the 168km seventh stage from Millau to Lavaur which should be one for the sprinters but might entice the opportunists.
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