2017 Tour de France: Stage 3 live race updates, blog

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    Slovakia's Peter Sagan reacts after winning the 5th stage, a 222 km race from Bex to Cevio, Switzerland, at the 81st Tour de Suisse UCI ProTour cycling race, on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Cevio. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

    The sprinters will take a backseat on Stage 3 of the Tour de France as the first hilltop finish of the race greets the peloton at the end of 212.5 kilometres in Longwy, with the race crossing three countries. Join The Roar for live coverage and updates from 9:30pm (AEST).

    After Marcel Kittel picked up the first on-line stage of the Tour yesterday, it’s time for the classics specialists to come out for some time in the sun – although that’s been lacking in this year’s race.

    The opening stages have been hit hard by rain and poor weather conditions, but that’s expected to change today, and the peloton will be glad for it.

    Given the race finishes on top of a Category 3 climb, it won’t just be the punchy riders looking to win – it’ll be the general classifications ensuring no time is lost and that they are out of trouble.

    Starting out in Verviers, the race will undulate for almost the entirety of the stage, with five categorised climbs greeting the riders. That is made up of three Cateogyr 4 climbs and two Category 3 climbs.

    Going almost straight uphill from the startline on the Cote de Sart, it’ll be a strong man’s breakaway that makes it away from the pack. The next obstacle will be the intermediate sprint which is met after 89 kilometres, coming in Wincrange after the race crosses into Luxemburg

    The Category 4 ascent of the Cote de Wiltz and Category 3 Cote d’Eschdorf follows shortly afterwards, with the race continuing to undulate. It’ll then be an almost 80-kilometre zone with no recognised climbs, before the final two come in the final 15 kilometres of racing.

    The Côte de Villers-la-Montagne, a Category 4 climb will be summited with 15.5 kilometres to go, before the slightly steeper finishing climb sets up the best classics riders with a shot at glory.

    The Category 3 Côte des Religieuses is just 1.6 kilometres, averaging 5.8 per cent, but it bites early with a maximum gradient of 11 per cent reached, and the final 500 kilometres being little more than a false flat.

    That means the first half of the climb is going to be a real struggle for the sprinters, while riders like Philippe Gilbert and Michal Kwiatkowski, pending on how much freedom he is given will try to kick away.

    There is next to no chance the sprinters will get up the first kilometre of the Côte des Religieuses, meaning if others hang on, it’ll be down to Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews and Greg Van Avermaet among others to take the stage.

    Prediction
    The first kilometre is steep and I expect the race to splinter. The pace will be high thanks to the relentless drive of general classification teams, and while none of those riders will win the stage, it’ll set Gilbert up perfectly.

    Geraint Thomas should do enough in support of Chris Froome to hold yellow as well.

    Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Stage 3 from 9:30pm (AEST) and don’t forget to drop a comment as the action unfolds below.

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.