Commercy, July 13
Stage 6 starts in the center of Commercy, which the Tour is discovering for the first time. A rolling start occurs five minutes later, followed by the Void-Vacon hill at the 10th kilometer, and a long trek across the Meuse, Meurthe-et-Moselle and Vosges regions. Certainly, the stage is set, but we know nothing of the strength and the standings of the principal players. Because on this day after the team time trial, like the day after a party, it’s time to take stock — the optimists find the bottle half-full, the pessimists judge it to be half-empty. Reading the general classification is ambiguous, with some climbers considering themselves undoubtedly ahead, and others undoubtedly behind.
What will, for example, become of the men from Kelme, especially effective on the climbs last year, but destabilized this winter by the tragic accident that mowed down the Otxoa twins? And what will become of Wladimir Belli, Francesco Casagrande, Dario Frigo and Raimondas Rumsas, all partners in the Fassa Bortolo jersey, all capable of springing clear in the mountains, and, in addition, capable of riding fast in the time trials?
Let’s imagine for an instant that they confirm their promise in the team time trial, and start this new stage of the Tour not far from the yellow jersey. They could simply loosen the reins on the sprinters, who will have a 1200-meter-long straightaway at their disposal in Strasbourg. On the other hand, if they have time to make up, they must immediately think about attacking. From this perspective, could the Col du Donon, a Cat. 2 climb, serve as a springboard? The pessimists, yet again, will believe it to be too far from the finish. What would the optimists say?