After a nervy start to the Tour de France, Stage 5 presents an opportunity to attack, a danger for the general classification riders, and a tough day out for the sprinters all in one. Join The Roar for live coverage from 10:30pm (AEST).
The 204.5-kilometre journey, starting in Lorient and finishing in Quimper, takes the peloton further across the challenging Brittany-region roads.
While the first 50 kilometres are more or less flat, it’s anything but easy from there. The race lumps its way to the intermediate sprint at the 92-kilometre mark, in Roudouallec, before there are five categorised climbs – three of them Category 3.
In many ways, it’s reminiscent of Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour, from York to Sheffield in the United Kingdom, when Vincenzo Nibali took the honours. This maybe isn’t quite as difficult, but outside of the categorised climbs, there is barely a metre of flat roads.
It’s always either up or down and combined with the three Category 3 climbs over the final 60 kilometres, it’ll burn the legs and likely lead to splits in the peloton.
If the sprinters are to hold on all the way to the finish line, it would seem like a minor miracle. Rather, it seems the most easily backable option is a small bunch sprint with the general classification riders joined by the likes of Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews.
The final categorised climb is the 2.2 kilometre climb of the Cote de La Montagne De Lacronan, about 25 kilometres from the finish line at almost six per cent. However, there are three recognisable lumps in the road before from there, including an uphill dash to the line, which will likely rule out the pure sprinters.
With many of the GC contenders already being affected by crashes, this is shaping up as a real opportunity for those riders out of position – Nairo Quintana springs to mind – to try and make up some crucial seconds ahead of the Mur de Bretagne tomorrow.
The quick pace is going to make it tough for the sprinters. Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews should hang on, but whether they win the stage or not is up for debate.
Alejandro Valverde is my pick for the day. He has a responsibility to hang up the front and will be there at the death to sprint for the stage. Expect him to beat Simon Gerrans, of BMC, who will be protecting Richie Porte.
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