Hopefully two races for the price of one with a breakaway making it and behind the GC contenders exploiting the tricky finish including a surprisingly nasty penultimate climb.
Stage 5 Wrap: Jérôme Cousin went in the break to scoop up mountains points and take the polka dot jersey and it worked. He also won the stage. Nils Politt attacked the break just before the final climb of the day and built up a 15 second lead only for Cousin to bridge across during the climb. The closer they got to Sisteron the less work Cousin was doing to the point where Politt was roaring at Cousin to do a turn. He wouldn’t and Politt tried an attack but Cousin closed him down. At this point Politt was too polite, the pair had a slender lead but the German still insisted on towing Cousin to the finish line. If it’s any consolation he’s going like a train and should be a force for the northern classics, he was powering alone after a long day away and still the chase behind struggled to take time.
The Route: 198km and a Paris-Nice classic as they leave Sisteron and the Durance valley to head to Digne on the Route Napoléon around the foot of the Alps. The Col de Luens is a gentle climb, never more than 7% and often much more gentle. The Col Bas is the highest point of the stage and a short climb, some 8% but less than two kilometres long. Then the descending begins with a long section of the route which twists and turns, passing the ski resort of Gréolieres and then two more second category climbs, a generous award for these more gentle climbs and then the hairy descent down the Gorges du Loup.
The Finish: with 11.5km to go they go through the backstreets of Colle sur Loup and tackle a stiff climb, 1.8km at 10% in the roadbook but out n the road there’s a warning sign saying 16%. It’s an irregular climb that turns one way, twists another and the slope changes as it bends past houses and scrubland before rejoining the main road and the descent to the intermediate sprint in Saint Paul. Then it’s out of the town on another backroad, an uncategorised climb with 3km at 6% and if it’s not as savage as the previous climb it’s still awkward underneath the pine trees. The final kick up sees the road joining the main road into Vence and an undulating road to the finish line.
The Contenders: a lot of riders will have marked today for a breakaway because the weekend stages are likely to see the GC contenders going full gas so today might give the escapees more of a chance. Who goes in the breakaway? Spin the wheel of fortune but to win the stage the rider has to be able to cope with the punch climbs in the finish. So Dayer Quintana (Movistar), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo), T-J Slagter (Dimension Data), Rémy Di Gregorio (Delko-Marseille-KTM) are names to think of among others.
Otherwise in case the breakaway doesn’t work then Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) is an obvious pick for a sprint win out of the front group or even a late attack, the same for Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) has been discreet this week but the finish suits him too.
|Martin, Gesink, Yates, de Gendt, Pantano, Izagirre²|
Weather: sunny most of the time but cool as they round the Alps, 10°C at best for much of the stage before 14°C for the finish.
TV: You should find it on the same channel as you watch the Tour de France. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams. The finish is forecast for 4.30pm.