Stage 6 of the Tour de France 2022 is another hilly ride, and at 220km it is a long one. It is from Binche to Longwy via the Ardennes.
A punchy climb, the Mur de Pulventeux, comes at 6km before the finish. After that, there's also a pull up the Côte des Religieuses to the line.
|Date||Thursday 7th July 2022|
|Climbs||Côte des Mazures (Cat. 3)
Côte de Montigny-sur-Chiers (Cat. 4)
Côte de Pulventeux (Cat. 3)
There's an annoying video map of Stage 6:
This is the profile of Stage 6 Tour de France 2022:
|Caravan||Fast Schedule||Slow Schedule|
|Start Time (départ fictif)||1005||1205||1205|
|Start Time (départ réel)||1015||1215||1215|
|Intermediate Sprint (145.9km)||1354||1534||1554|
|Final Climb at Côte de Pulventeux (214.6km)||1537||1708||1737|
|Finish Line (219.9km)||1545
Stage 6 starts in Binche.
Binche is a town in the Province of Hainaut, in the French-speaking Walloon part of Belgium (Wikipedia). It's in a former coal-mining area.
The Binche Carnival is the most famous in Belgium, and involves participants dressing up as 'Gilles', with wax masks and colourful clothes. The carnival tradition may date back to 1549, when Mary of Hungary, ruler of the Netherlands and sister of Holy Roman Emporer Charles V, welcomed her brother to Binche. People appeared in costume as part of the celebrations.
Because of the unique carnival, locals say 'there's only one Binche in the world'.
The Tour de France says that food and drink associated with the town includes Binche doubles (buckwheat pancakes filled with cheese), and La Binchoise beer from the local brewery.
Wanty Group is based in Binche. They are involved in civil engineering.
Binche hosted the start of Stage 3 of the 2019 Tour de France, a stage which Julian Alaphilippe won in Epernay. Another rider who thrives in this part of the world is Yves Lampaert; he won the 2018 Belgian national road championships in Binche.
Leaving Binche, the riders head south to Merbes-le-Château, Beaumont, and the Eau d'Heure lakes.
There's downhill mountain biking near the lakes, at Natura Bike.
The route passes close to Chimay, best-known for the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont where Trappist monks make beer and cheese.
The route crosses into France at Regniowez. This is the Ardennes.
The peloton passes through Rocroi, known for the Enclosure of Rocroi fortifications. They are earthworks in pentagonal form surrounding the village.
Whenever there are fortifications, it's a fair bet that military architect to Louis XIV Vauban (1633-1707) was involved in building them. The Rocroi fortifications pre-date Vauban, having been started in 1555, but he did tinker with them.
Bourg-Fidèle and Les Mazures are the next settlements along the way. The day's first categorised climb is the Côte de Mazures after 87.2km. It's 2km of climbing at 7.6%, and that makes it Category 3.
After leaving the Regional Natural Park of the Ardennes, the race heads to Charleville-Mézières, on the Meuse (a river which is called the Maas in Dutch, and that flows north through Maastricht towards the Netherlands and the North Sea).
The poet Arthur Rimbaud was born in Charleville-Mézières, and there's a museum dedicated to him in a nice brick and stone mill building. Apparently there's also a World Puppet Theatre Festival here.
The route shadows the Meuse and reaches Sedan.
Until 1651, the Principality of Sedan belonged to the La Tour d'Auvergne family, but in that year it submitted to France.
It's famous for the First Battle of Sedan, in the Franco-Prussian War, when French Emperor Napoleon III lost and was taken prisoner. This resulted in France losing territory, and the unification of Germany; Sedantag was declared a national holiday there.
The Second Battle of Sedan was during World War II, when Germany attacked neutral Belgium, bypassing the Maginot Line, and took the town.
Yannick Noah was born in Sedan.
The sedan chair is named after Sedan, where it was first used.
The intermediate sprint is at Carignan, after 145.9km.
The race route then continues to Thonelle. Louis XVI was making for the Château de Thonelle when he escaped from Paris in 1791 during the Revolution, but of course he didn't make it because he was discovered and stopped at Varennes-en-Argonne.
The riders head on to Montmédy and Marville. Between the two there's an aerodrome that was used by Canadian NATO air force units in the 1950s and 1960s. It now has a wealth of solar panels.
Next up is Longuyon, then Montigny-sur-Chiers. The second categorised climb is at Montigny, and it's 1.6km at 4.4%, making it Category 3.
That climb comes with 205km ridden, and the race is now approaching the finish at Longwy. There's still one more categorised climb to go, plus the steep pull up to the line.
The Côte de Pulventeux comes at 214.6km. It's 800m at a steep 12.3%,
and classed as Category 3. That's not the end of the climbing though,
because there's still the Côte des Religieuses to conquer.
The Tour previously tackled the Côte des Religieuses on Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2017. Ritchie Porte got a gap and looked as though he might win, but Peter Sagan caught him and, despite unclipping at a crucial moment, managed to out-sprint Michael Matthews, Dan Martin, and Greg van Avermaet.
This is the last kilometre of the 2017 race:
Longwy is a town in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département of France. Its ville neuve, fortified by Vauban (Louis XIV's military architect), is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Its traditional industry was mining and smelting iron ore, but this declined in the late 1970s, and all the furnaces had closed by the late 1980s.
Decorative glazed pottery is made in Longwy.
Stage 6 may have been designed for Julian Alaphilippe. We saw in the 2021 World Championship road race that he copes well with long distances, and punchy climbs are his cup of tea. Unfortunately he is not taking part in the Tour de France, after not recovering sufficiently from injury.
This leaves the top candidates for the win as Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews.
Could some of the GC contenders get involved? Primoz Roglic, Tadej Pogacar and Geraint Thomas might have a chance.
Who do you think will win Stage 6?
Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor.
Price £9.34 from Amazon as at 8th January 2022.
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