Tour de France by the Glass 2019 Stage 6: The Beast We’ve Been Waiting For!

According to some sports writers, analysts, and excited fans, the “real” beginning of this year’s Tour is Thursday. Yep, stage 6 is where it all starts.

Despite four days of racing, the cycling gods have yet to commence the merciless and vigorous sorting of the victims contenders that invariably occurs on the initial mountain stage. I think they’ve been unnecessarily cruel this year, allowing the peloton (and us) to fall into a comfortable complacency: a place of rolling, green hills, ancient castles, and not too much hard work. Sure, we get a few thrilling minutes at the finish, but we haven’t had to pay a lot for it.

Thursday we will pay.

Here is the profile map of stage 6, with its 7 categorized climbs, each of which scrapes the sky at between 3,000 and 4,000 feet in altitude. (Maps courtesy of LeTour.com)

Stage 6 Profile

If you take a closer look, you’ll see that the finish line lies at the tippy-top of one of cycling’s most iconic climbs: the Planche des Belle Filles – a route that rises to a 24% gradient in some parts.

Stage 6 Profile Last 1K

What this Means for the Race

Stage 6 will act as a metaphoric thresher, separating those riders who stand a chance to win the overall yellow jersey from the – ahem – chaff, so to speak. Overzealous climbers will be punished for exerting themselves too early in the day, finding their gas tanks empty as they reach the start of the final ascent. Others may just have a bad day. A few, however, will be blessed by the holy trinity of Grand Tour cycling: fresh legs, eager teammates, and a day free of errant obstacles (like the umbrella that flew into the peloton on stage 5.) Video from LeTour.com.

Who knows what the GC standings will look like at the end of the day? But it’s sure to be an exciting one for us spectators!

What to Sip While You Watch

Despite the dramatic change in terrain, we’re not all that far from where we were on stage 5, which means Alsace wine for another day. No complaints here!

There are so many lovely wines to choose from, and they are widely available. Why not pick up a bottle or two, invite a few friends over for a viewing party, and snack on a platter of charcuterie and cheese as you cheer on your favorite riders?

Cheese Platter with PG and Cremant
A bottle of Crémant d’Alsace sparkling wine, a bottle of Pinot Gris, and charcuterie. Heaven!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of who’s still in contention, where the race heads for stage 7, and some new recommendations on what to sip while you’re making sense of it all.

Santé!

Vive le Tour!

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