STAGE SIX: Girona – Barcelona

Thursday July 9



DISTANCE: 181.5km



WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?

After four days of edging along the Mediterranean coast, the Tour hits Spain. Today’s stage starts in Girona, a hub for English-speaking pro cyclists over the last decade. The Garmin squad currently use it as their European base.



Today’s route is full of ups and downs, with five climbs. However, none are tougher than third-category. The wind could be an issue as the bunch heads to the Costa Brava through party towns like Lloret de Mar, before moving back inland.



After the fourth-category Côte de la Conreria, it’s 23 kilometres to Barcelona and the short-and-sharp hilltop finish on the Montjuïc. The climb rises 70 metres above Spain’s second largest city in the space of two kilometres, with a section of 7% at the foot.



Cycling Weekly spoke to Dan Martin before today’s stage; he’s not riding, but thinks this stage is a lot harder than many people have been expecting. With rain a possibility, the twisting, turning, bumpy coastal roads could well suit a breakaway, said Martin.



Stage six map and profile>>




Estimated finish time
– 17.14 CEST



WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?


If yesterday’s stage was more comparable to a Classic than a Grand Tour stage, today’s could well be similar.



The route once again flanks the Mediterranean for large parts of the day, the crosswinds from which have already wreaked havoc with those caught napping.



However, it’s the hilltop finish in Barcelona atop the Montjuïc climb, that is a little like the Mur de Huy, although not as steep.



In all likelihood, it’ll be too steep a slope for the pure sprinters, so watch out for the Classics men rising to the top as well as any overall contenders who will not want to risk losing any time if it splits.



Lance Armstrong is separated from the yellow jersey by just hundredths of a second. With the race heading into the Pyrenees tomorrow, if he can snatch yellow from Cancellara, he will carry a significant psychological advantage over Contador. Plus, it will also make it more difficult for the Spaniard to attack Armstrong if he’s in yellow.



MEN TO WATCH




Gerald Ciolek – Ciolek has been there or there abouts in the Tour before but this year he is not working for Cavendish. The uphill finish looks tailor made for the German who can also climb well.



Oscar Freire – Freire is a versatile sprinter and if he can make it up the climb without too many problems, he will take some beating in the dash to the line.



Filippo Pozzato – Pozzato has a proven track record in tough first-week Tour stages, triumphing last year in Autun and on an uphill finish in Saint-Brieuc in 2004. The recently-crowned Italian champion will be in the thick of the action today.



Kim Kirchen – Winner of Flèche Wallonne last year, Kirchen thrives when the road tilts upwards so watch out for ‘Grim’ Kim.



Juan Antonio Flecha – The Argentinean-born Classics man calls Barcelona home, so he will be extra-motivated to attack today. Also, we want to see that superb arrow-firing victory celebration one more time…

CW’S TIP TO WIN

We’re plumping for Gerald Ciolek; a handy climber and an even handier sprinter.



WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS?

Yellow – Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)

Green – Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC)

Polka-dot – Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux)

White – Tony Martin (Team Columbia-HTC)

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

STAGE REPORTS



Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage



Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second



Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage



Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador



Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint



Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial

LATEST TOUR NEWS




Tour de France 2009 News Index>>




Wiggins looking ahead to Friday’s mountain stage



Analysis: Why Contador’s chances rose when Armstrong missed yellow



Delgado criticises Astana for Armstrong manoeuvre



Armstrong: Gaining time on Contador was not the objective



Stage three analysis: Why the bunch split and who gained the most



The Feed Zone: Monday, July 6



Analysis: Why Columbia must expect to do the bulk of the chasing




EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



David Zabriskie’s time trial bike



Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial



David Brailsford interview



Mark Cavendish on the Tour



Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS



Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones



Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson



Team presentation by Andy Jones



Team presentation by Graham Watson

TOUR GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

FEATURES

Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles

TWITTER



Follow the Tour on Cycling Weekly’s Twitter feed

This article is from

Cycling Weekly – In print and online, Cycling Weekly is the best source of breaking news, race reportage, reliable fitness advice, trustworthy product reviews and inspirational features. First published in 1891, the magazine has an amazing and unrivalled heritage, having been at the heart of British cycling for over 120 years.

Subscribe to Cycling Weekly in print » | Read the digital edition »