Marcel Kittel, who already has a pair of stage wins looks to be the fastest man in the race and with another draggy sort of finish, it could suit the German to go for a third.
Fabio Aru made a statement of intent on Wednesday and showed he is the heir apparent to 2014 Tour de France victor and Italian compatriot Vincenzo Nibali.
Otherwise, Froome said, he spent the day chatting with other riders and admiring the views as the peloton rode into champagne country and through Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, the hometown of France's wartime hero and former president, Gen. Charles de Gaulle.
Their advantage got close to four minutes but they were given no more rope than that with the sprint trains wary of possible winds later in the stage.
A stage won by the German before the French Arnaud Demare.
"I was really confident in my team", Kittel said.
In the meantime, the top sprinters will have two days to lick their wounds and try to conjure up a way to stop Kittel.
Away from the Tour, Sagan and Mark Cavendish kiss and make up. Kittel said before the Tour he could only take green if Sagan was eliminated, and now he has his opportunity. "The level that we have here for the sprints is still very, very high".
Nairo Quintana was the biggest loser of the day, coming in 14sec behind Froome, leaving him ninth overall at 54sec.
The intermediate sprint for the day comes on the long opening drag, after 108 kilometres in Chanceaux. I was just a little bit empty when I arrived there. "Probably, you know, could have had the same result with half the distance but it's a nice one to get done", Porte said.
"As we say, there is nothing to gain but so much to lose".
Friday's 213.5km seventh stage will start from Troyes and finish in Nuits-Saint-Georges, with only one fourth-category climb.