• Rúben Silva

Tour de France Stage 5 Preview

It was a very monotonous day of racing with the breakaway let free right in the start of the stage, the wind was present throughout the day causing some tension but not more than that, everything played into the hands of a mass sprint and it was a very fast one with several teams in front, Deceuninck managed to squeeze in and leadout Viviani perfectly in a way that he could capitalize and take the win in front of Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan.

Positive: Deceuninck have their second in a row, the only team that really powered through today in the final kilometer, alongside Kristoff who was a pleasant surprise in second.

Negative: Groenewegen entered the sprint badly positioned, still managed 5th but could've done better.

The Route

The race heads to the Vosges in stage 5, back after 2017 and 2014, it is an interesting stage, with a hilly profile and lots of scenarios possible for the day. It's the first day suited to a breakaway, not to discard the puncheurs and the sprinters having their day which is always a possibility. The Côte du Haut-Koenigsbourg will warm things up, in the Côte des Trois-Épis is a hard climb that can serve as a launchpad in front of for a team to shed the sprinters in the peloton. This climb will be crucial as here we'll see the gaps with 35 kilometers to go, to see if it's a day for the break or the peloton, and also to see which sprinters remain, as if they are still in the peloton they will likely remain there, as even if their dropped in the next climb they shouldn't have much of an issue coming back in.

That final climb is the Côte des Cinq Châteaux, a respectable climb but one that needs to be seriously attacked to make differences, so it can have a big influence in the stage and will absolutely be a crucial moment.

The Weather

The wind won't be as strong as in the last few days, a little northern breeze which should in any case only benefit the breakaway possibilities even more.

The Favourites

Well as mentioned different types of riders have good chances for tomorrow, to begin there's the sprinters like Sagan, Matthews, Colbrelli and Trentin. I have to say this is the scenario I believe the less but with this much quality in the field, plus all of them have teammates that can help the chase if it really comes down to that, it's hard to discard some of the fast riders surviving the climbs and reeling in the break. Greg van Avermaet and Jasper Stuyven are also riders in great form, Stuyven for the longer climbs is far from a sure thing but I know how strong of a rider he is, and if the sprinters do make it the pace can't be that high.

There's the puncheurs, the climbs aren't that short, not that favourable for the pure puncheurs but the ones we find here are well suited for the final climb, Julian Alaphillipe for a start seems in fantastic form and may want to defend his lead, Deceuninck may make the effort to not allow a strong breakaway to go. Tim Wellens/Tiesj Benoot, Alexey Lutsenko/Luis Leon Sanchez and Max Schachmann are riders that quite fit in this finale and shouldn't be marked, unlike the GC riders that despite having some riders that would also fit well, they won't be able to create gaps because the GC fight is a different subject.

As in for the breakaway, well it's not easy as we haven't had any mountain challenges yet, stage 3 is a good indicator of some riders that are riding well but not much more than that honestly. Of those that can have the freedom, the agressiveness and the quality to take a win from out in front there are riders like de Gendt and De Marchi for a start you'd naturally go for, but from the indicators so far perhaps Ciccone/Felline of Trek, Herrada/Edet of Cofidis I also really fancy their chances. Besides them it's really a roulette, the main group in the finish to Epernay has such an immense quality in depth that you'd imagine most are in for the GC, supporting their leaders purely or don't have the freedom to be let loose, but those that lost time you really can't be sure because at this point of the race you don't know who's saving up the legs and who doesn't have them.

I imagine there are lots of riders that want to be in the day's break due to the favourable chances of it succeeding, but this can lead to a roulette for who will be in it as they stage's start doesn't have a proper climb and it allows some of the less strong riders to get in, so sense of opportunity will prevail over pure power for sure, specially as there are team that will likely want to keep it together (Deceuninck at least I'd say).

Prediction Time

Matthews, Wellens, De Marchi

Sagan, Colbrelli, de Gendt, Schachmann

Trentin, van Avermaet, Stuyven, Ciccone, Herrada, Edet, Benoot, Alaphillipe

Going for a longshot with De Marchi, hard to choose who will be there but it's a stage that suits him very well, my expectations are that he manages to get in front and is able to power away from his competitors in the final set of climbs.

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