The Spin: Stage 5

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Stage 5

Cap Fréhel is a small peninsula, a cape, on the coast of Brittany with only 1,600 inhabitants and the actual finish location is the village of Pléhérel. The arrival of the race today will probably be the biggest thing to happen in the village’s history. It’s a unique setting with tall cliffs above the sea, heathland and salty air.

The only climb is La Côte de Gurunhuel at 45km (note the Celtic names in the region). It’s 2.3km at 5.1% so noticeable but still 4th category and one point on offer.

Stage 5 sprint

The intermediate sprint at Goudelin comes after 70km and features a straight but downhill run before a final kick up to the line.

After this, it’s on to the feedzone and then the remaining 85km are along the coast with some exposed sections. In particular until St Brieuc there’s a crosswind, although not one coming from the sea but from inland and it’s predicted to reach 30km/h. Again if teams get organised it could be a chance to split the race but the wind might not be strong enough.

If the racing isn’t lively all day expect TV commentators to fill their air time with a mention Bernard Hinault. The last Frenchman to win the Tour, he won the race five times in his career and made a name for himself thanks to a forceful character as much as his impressive collection of wins. At times an ogre on the bike but a gentleman at off it, he is from the area and today runs a dairy farm as well as lending his name to a bike brand and helping ASO with the Tour de France and other races.

Last 5km

The last 5km look hectic, with a road that’s only 6.5 metres wide most of the way and then the winding entrance into Pléhérel. Note the last kilometres are not flat either, they barrel up and down. There’s a decent ramp between 4km and 3km, not one for the climbers but just what’s needed to disrupt a sprint train. Then it’s a high speed race to the line which will favour the sprint trains. The final bends are sweeping rather than sharp but the wind will have its say.

I suspect a bunch finish is likely given HTC-Highroad want to win a sprint with Mark Cavendish. We’ll see if they can get their train up to full speed. Other squads seem to have the measure of them, plotting like villains in a spaghetti western to blow the approaching train off the railroad. But this means the last 10km should be great viewing, it’s not going to be about the last 500m but the build up.

Weather: wet at times with cool temperatures of 20°C (68°) but just 15°C (59°) during the rain showers. Winds reaching 30km/h coming from the south-west but with gusts up to 50km/h later in the race.

STB July 6, 2011 at 9:36 am

It should be a day for Cavendish if HTC can hold their train together. They have looked a bit flakey in the first few stages but this looks ideal terrain for them. Although I expect Farrar, Griepel, and others will not be too far behind and will pounce on any errors by HTC.

Daniel July 6, 2011 at 9:53 am

Love your write ups.

Wobbler July 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

HTC don’t seem as drilled this year, they’ve lost quite a few riders from that awesome leadout train of 2009 and I don’t know whether the lack of Sponsor and therefore (accoridng to Bob Stapleton) lack of team for next year may be playing on their minds a bit, especially the older members of the squad. The move on Monday’s stage where they went far too early and ran out of riders before the end seemed very strange and a bit of a basic mistake, although Cav did well after the crash. A win for Cav would give him much needed confidence and also get him back on track for that elusive Green Jersey

Andy Raff July 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

It’s been interesting to watch the intermediate sprints for minor points, with potential major significance. So far they have come on generally wide and straight sections, and seem much safer than the final stage sprints which often look dangerous from a road layout/architecture point of view. (Never mind the more competitive nature).

But will these IS’s become more hectic as the green jersey battle hots up?

Does anyone have a link or explanation for categorising climbs?
I’d love to categorize the lumps and bumps in my own area (Stirlingshire, Scotland).

Loving the blog, keep doing what you’re doing, please!

bumpby July 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

HTC’s lead out train just doesn’t suddenly become ineffectual out of the blue. The other riders/teams are making a concerted effort to disrupt the lead out and discourage Cavendish especially, not to mention the commissaires. Whether the other teams methods are by the book, I wouldn’t like to say. I’m no HTC apologist but it does seem conducive to the odd conspiracy theory.
That said, Le Côte de Granit Rose is one my favourite parts of France. Come rain or shine, it’ll be a picture to look at.

Neil July 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I’m loving the intermediate sprints and the contest they’ve created. All of the major players are contesting them with fervour. What a fantastic change by the organisers to add some excitement into the middle of a stage.

Great to see Evans win yesterday just like in the Strade Bianche stage of the Giro last year. Smashing up the hill so hard that no one was able to come through.

Bergs July 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Thanks for this blog, really loving the Tour and reading your previews in the morning before trying to following the action on Eurosport player during the afternoon : ).

@ Andy Raff – I personally think HTC should attempt an attack before the IS so Cav can catch up on some much needed points. Would also signal his intent to Farrar etc who have been sprinting very well thus far. ‘Map My Ride’ is what you need. http://www.mapmyride.com/ – opens up a whole new world to your riding & explains in detail how climbs are categorised. I went out the other week & it was fun to know my ride included a couple Cat 4 climbs.

Ash July 7, 2011 at 5:20 am

Last Frenchman to win the Tour was the late Laurant Fignon,wasn’t it?

The Inner Ring July 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

Ash: Fignon won in 1983 and 1984, with Hinault winning in 1985.

Ash July 7, 2011 at 8:38 am

Whoops, should check before doubting the Inner Ring. My bad.
Nice post about Brittany BTW.

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