Like the day before it, Stage 6 is ostensibly a transition stage -- a long ride that a few riders will have fun with at the finish, and that's it. The field at the 2015 Tour de France has been brutally competitive, however, so to expect the stage to be easy would be a mistake.
That was certainly the case on Stage 5, on which a little bit of rain turned turn the back of the peloton into an oil slick. Though it made a negligible difference on the general classification, teams containing final podium favorites -- Sky, BMC, Tinkoff-Saxo, Astana -- kept a frenetic pace at the head of the peloton, forcing everyone else to hang on or eat tarmac.
Stage 6 will be a little bouncier and runs right along the Normandy shore, which means wind will be a factor once again. There is little to be gained by trying to tackle the course in a breakaway, and that's fine, because survival is hard enough as it is.
The stage begins in Abbeville, and ends in Le Havre 191.5 kilometers later. Normandy means dramatic scenery -- there will be a few helicopter shots of cliff sides standing steadfast but wearying against the relentless sea -- and a dizzying number of roadside reminders of war. Le Havre is best known as a World War II flash point and the inspiration for a lot of provocative French literature and Henry Miller's drunken escapades. Even if the racing isn't scintillating, there will be something to look at and Phil Liggett will have a lot to say.
A tricky finish at the top of a 1.5-kilometer climb should be fun. It isn't long or steep enough to truly eliminate anyone from contending for a stage win. If the peloton holds as expected, a lot of riders will be in position to gun for the line, with the more powerful all-arounders -- Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Alejandro Valverde -- likely having the best chances of winning.
NBCSN will begin its coverage at 8 a.m. ET, though racing will get underway at 6:40 a.m. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is broadcasting the Tour for free for mobile users with an accommodating cable subscription. Unfortunately, the Live Extra website does not carry the Tour, so computer users will need to subscribe to NBC's web package for the Tour de France.
Stage 6 route
Coverage begins at 8 a.m. ET. on NBCSN
Announcers: Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen
Mobile: NBC Sports Live Extra app with an appropriate cable subscription
Computer: NBC's Tour de France web package is available for a fee