≡ Menu

Tour de France Stage 5 Preview

A long day with a sneaky surprise in store at the end as the hardest climb of the day isn’t a categorised climb. The Col de Gineste comes fifteen minutes from the finish. It’s nothing savage but provides some spice and scenery.

With crashes and climbs we’ve yet to have a full bunch sprint with the superstars and today could be the day.

Stage 4 Review

Orica Greenedge

Orica-Greenedge made news with the bus, now their train took the stage. The winning margin was 0.75 seconds, and it put Simon Gerrans in yellow.

The course was deliberately short and didn’t head for the hills and their twisting roads. It kept the time gaps close, 16 teams in one minute. Relatively BMC Racing and Belkin lost but they didn’t lose much time 26 seconds and 37 seconds respectively. Europcar’s losses are more significant, surrendering 1.13 and a minute to many GC rivals. Note Sky didn’t dominate either.

Saddest story of the day was Ted King’s ejection from the race. Listed as seven seconds outside the time cut there’s been confusion over the accuracy of his finishing time. King’s problem is his injuries, so much that he couldn’t ride his time trial bike. But his solitude did it for him, there’s often a safety in numbers scenario where a big group in a mountain stage gets saved for the day but a lone rider in a time trial stage is another story. Cannondale tried to appeal but the jury of race commissaires were intransigent (Update: reports said they did but the President of the Jury says they didn’t)

Stage 5 Preview

  • Km 22.0 – Côte de Châteauneuf-Grasse 1.4km at 8.4% – category 3
  • Km 93.0 – Col de l’Ange 1.6km at 4.1% – category 4
  • Km 154.0 – Côte de la Roquebrussanne 3.5km at 4.2% – category 4
  • Km 198.0 – Côte des Bastides 5.7km at 3.1% – category 4
  • Bonus surprise climb

The Route
228.5km is a long ride especially if it’s all going to end in a bunch sprint but for viewers and riders alike it’s a scenic day on the bike with a mix of roads. It’s the kind of day where you’d like to take your time, for example an early stop in Grasse, the home of the perfume industry where they make real scents from natural oils as opposed to the synthetic chemicals used in most products.

It’s more up and down the profile suggests and there are more climbs that the four picked out by ASO. Indeed the Col de la Gineste is probably the hardest climb of the day and the most important too but it’s not categorised…

The Finish
With 20km to go the race crosses Cassis and starts the Col de la Gineste. The climb comes in two parts, the first is 2.0km long and rises at 6%. Then it levels out to drag across the Plateau de Carpiagne for 4km where exposed roads await before rising for 1,500m at 5%. It’s all on a wide road and, after a bend at the start, in a long straight line most of the way.

The descent has several bends, nothing outrageous but enough to line out the bunch and make a chase hard. The closer the finish gets, the easier this work becomes.

The race passes the Stade Vélodrome with 2.5km to go, and then a wide junction where the race turns left and races under the 1km sign towards the sea. Another wide left-hander and the finish awaits after 500m.

The Scenario
Pierre Rolland’s mountain lead is safe because Orica-Greenedge’s Simon Clarke could take maximum points all day and it wouldn’t matter. Plus he’ll be on duty to help Gerrans stay in yellow. A break could go but I think it’s still to early to stick. Orica-Greenedge don’t want to give up the yellow jersey and besides they’ve got Matthew Goss although as much as the team are on a roll it’s not time to bank on him yet.

Several sprinters teams have yet to get a win too. None more so than Cannondale who will hope the final climb blunts the legs of the others so Peter Sagan can win. With Mark Cavendish recovering from a lung infection he’s an uncertain pick but write him off and he wins. The safer option would be Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel as he’s got the ability to get over the climb and a team in his service. Argos-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel‘s very fast but very big too and might find that climb too much and maybe they go to Plan John Degenkolb?

Weather: the chance of rain early but getting sunnier and warmer. The wind can howl here and could be decisive over the exposed Col de Gineste. But a 20km/h S-W headwind awaits, not selective enough.

TV: live coverage starts soon after 2.00pm Euro time. Now a race can always pack a surprise but the suspense today is likely to come at the end. Tune in from around 4.30pm to get the Côte des Bastides and then the Col de Gineste as the race approaches Marseille.

The Tour has a mixed history with the city of Marseille. It has grown into France’s second biggest city and famous for it’s football team which plays in the Stade Vélodrome although they’ve long since removed the cycling track. The race visited regular for years until an incident in 1971. Eddy Merckx had been beaten by Luis Ocaña in the Alps and trailing in the Tour de France. But Merckx being The Cannibal, he used the stage that left the Alps to Marseille to attack. He went clear from the start as the race began with a descent, ambushing Ocaña. Merckx, accompanied by others, rode away and averaged 50km/h for the 220km stage. The clip is worth watching for the music.

Only this meant they arrived so early for the finish in Marseille that mayor Gaston Deferre was not there to see it as he was tucking into his lunch. Deferre was furious and the city was his fiefdom, he only left office in a coffin. He was so angry he swore the race would never return to his city. Deferre died in 1986 and the race came back in 1989.

In 2007 Stage 10 used a similar finish, climbing the Gineste to drop into Marseille and a breakaway won with Cédric Vasseur winning. If you want omens it was a victory for Quickstep and both Jens Voigt and Michael Albasini were in the break and they’re both racing in this year’s tour with Radioshack-Leopard and Orica-Greenedge respectively.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • PhilipM Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 7:41 am

    Is it for certain that Gerrans will keep the jersey ? Impey can’t be missing much in terms of points – and it would be in the spirit of the team to let a domistique take the jersey if possible. Plus he’d be the first South african Yellow Jersey.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 7:58 am

      Far from certain. If Impey finishes ten places ahead of Gerrans today or just over the next few days, eg 3,5,2 places ahead then he could do it.

      However, they’re an Australian team still hunting for sponsorship. It’s the perfect story to have Gerrans in yellow and defend it.

  • MK Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 8:26 am

    do you have your links to last years previews. In the ASO tour preview video they show this amazing climb which is like a snake rising from the fields below. It looks like a short climb and I suspect was on a transition stage. I’d love to find it and ride up it. The scenery around it look amazing.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 8:30 am

      The previews are online, see the Archive column on the right, go to July and work back through them.

      Have you got a link to the video? Tell me what time this climb appears in the clip and I’ll try to tell you the climb.

      • MK Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 8:36 am
        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 8:43 am

          That’s the big Col du Grand Colombier, climbing from the Culoz and used for Stage 10 in last year’s Tour de France.

          • MK Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:16 am


          • TourDeUtah Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:45 am

            The aerial shots of that climb were truly amazing. Hoping ASO uses that climb in the near future.

            As for stage 5, I do not believe we will see a bunch sprint today. A sprint from a reduced bunch is more in order. I think with Cav suffering, plus stages 6 and 7 a sure sprints, they save their powder. Plus, the big prizes come next week for the twitchy muscled boys.

            I do not forsee a break surviving until stage 9 at the earliest. More likely stages 14 and 16.

            If Greipel makes it over the last climb in contact with the peloton, it’s his day. If not Sagan. Gerrans will probably lead out Impey for the win.

  • Joe K. Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:12 am

    Doesn’t Jan Bakelants seem to be the nicest most down-to-earth guy out there in the peloton? In his interview just after winning stage 2 and his comments about losing the yellow jersey after wearing it for probably the last time, he’s got class and humility to spare…and my respect.

  • BC Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:13 am

    Probably a sprint for those that can haul themselves over the endless climbs. In the longer term this is the kind of stage that will empty the legs a little more, and be felt in another two weeks. Take the French attitude and enjoy the scenery as much as the racing.

  • Mats Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:27 am

    I’m both sad and pi**ed off because of the Ted King affaire. I’m 110% sure had it been one of the favourites or even any no-name domestique from France the decision would have been positive. I hope Sagan will raise a Ted King flag today on the podium.

    • vendeeu Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:35 am

      Riders could protest before start,it has been known

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:57 am

      I’m just pissed, really pissed!! I can just picture the smurky shrug the judge gave the team.

    • Salsiccia Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 11:20 am

      It does seem awfully harsh. I can’t imagine how gutted he must be. Hopefully a bit of common sense and compassion can see the decision reversed before today’s start.

    • Bundle Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 11:56 am

      Sagan’s green jersey in Paris can depend on time cuts being strictly enforced. He should use Ted King as a precedent and as a warning.

  • TourDeUtah Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 9:53 am

    Ted was robbed !

    Also forgot to mention in my previous post, barring a crash, Gerrans will stay in yellow until stage 8. He has a strong team, as evidenced in the TTT. All nine riders finished together. Incredible. They still won.

  • Jayhawk Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 10:23 am

    Great blog Inner Ring. I enjoy it very much. Keep up the good work!
    For who is interested: David Walsh teaches cycling journalists about journalism. Discussion is in English (sort of). http://nos.nl/video/525255-walsh-slaat-terug-in-avondetappe.html

    • Sam Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 11:02 am

      Thanks for posting this – I read his references to it on David Walsh’s twitter feed. I went to a David Walsh Q&A one evening last week – deeply impressive guy.

    • vendeeu Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 11:02 am

      Watched this last night on BVNtv ,why was Smeets showing Walsh the video of Lance it was almost as though Walsh was being criticised for his journalism. I was shouting at the screen (stupid I know) Smeets Lance admitted it on Winfrey.

  • Steppings Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 10:27 am

    Agree, very harsh. Bet it would have been different if it were Tommy V.

  • The Ladder Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 10:57 am

    Taken from the rulebook:


    Possible exceptions

    The Stewards’ Committee may exceptionally allow one or several particularly unlucky riders to qualify, after informing the race management. In this case the following factors will be taken into consideration:

    • the average speed of the stage;
    • the point at which the incident or accident occurred;
    • the effort made by the rider or riders delayed by such incidents or accidents;
    • the possible degree of impassability of the roads.

    As these finishing times are calculated in relation to the winner of the stage, disqualifications resulting from the decisions once taken by the Stewards’ Committee and made available thereafter cannot in any case give rise to an entitlement to any exception for any rider.


    So there is provision within the rules to allow a rider to continue, despite finishing outside the qualifying time limit. Considering that the average speed of the stage was 57.84 k/mh, which I believe is the fastest average speed for a stage in TdF history, then there is an argument to be had that King be re-instated.

    The trouble with rules though, if you don’t adhere to them rigidly, you might as well not have them. By putting caveats and waivers in, you’re always going to create grey areas and see cases like this – which on the face of it, appears incredibly harsh.

    • Bundle Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:05 pm

      Quite right. It is harsh. It is the Tour de France!

    • Nuncio Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 1:22 pm

      ” the point at which the incident or accident occurred”

      Surely the fact that the ‘incident or accident’ happened 3 days earlier is the pertinent factor to his not being considered for reinstatement.

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 1:55 pm

        It’s for the incident in the race that day, for example imagine if a level-crossing had closed and blocked a rider or they’d been sent off course by mistake etc

  • Bundle Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:10 pm

    All in all, nothing has happened. Corsica and the TTT leave us, regrettably, with no signficant gaps to speak of. So we can be pretty sure that no one will move on the Port de Pailhères, or even in the whole Pyrenees.

  • CityGent Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:20 pm

    “the effort made by the rider or riders delayed by such incidents or accidents” – turning up to the TTT on a normal road bike and dropping off your team in the first kilometre hardly helps him on that point.

    Rules are there for a reason, and whether it’s 1 second, 7 seconds or 10 minutes, there has to be a cut off. Ted King has been unlucky, but this is a race, not a Sunday afternoon ride, and if King couldn’t keep up the pace on yesterday’s stage then, perhaps even for his own good, he has to accept that tht’s it for this year.

    • Salsiccia Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:34 pm

      Rules are there for a reason, but the rules say the rules can be bent. If yesterday hadn’t been a TTT he would very likely have finished within the time limit comfortably. And he couldn’t ride a TT bike due to his shoulder injury.

      By the letter of the rules the officials are within their rights to exclude him, but for 7 seconds, and given the circumstances seems incredibly harsh.

  • CityGent Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:42 pm

    “he couldn’t ride a TT bike due to his shoulder injury” – Exactly. He wasn’t fit to ride. If you’re not fit enough, you don’t get in. It’s harsh, but, as Bundle said, the Tour de France is supposed to be harsh. Not sure many non-Americans really care whether King rides or not.

    • Salsiccia Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:50 pm

      I see your point, however he is fit to ride as he proved by completing the course, on his own and within a gnat’s cock of the cut-off time. He just couldn’t use a TT bike due to the position.

      I’m very non-American but still care that he didn’t get to continue. The circumstances are exceptional IMO in that apart from the crash (caused in part by the race officials) and yesterday being a TTT he probably would have been OK. They should have (again IMO) let him start today and if he missed the cut-off again, then fair enough.

      I think we’ll have to agree to disagree!

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:55 pm

        Salsiccia: it’s great that you care and sympathize (so do I). And that’s what’s great about cycling: we care and sympathize when (or because) the race does not. If this sport was sympathetic to its practitioners, we spectators couldn’t sympathize, could we?

        • Salsiccia Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 1:00 pm

          Coo! Never thought of it like that…

      • Sam Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 3:54 pm

        He didnt come down in that crash ’caused in part by the race officials’ – he came down around 15km from the end, before all the bus drama

    • Robbo Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 5:07 pm

      1. His SRM data show he did make it within the timecut, but the official timekeeper says he didn’t: 8 second discrepancy.
      2. The Tour is supposed to be harsh, but exceptions are made. If a group of 40 comes in outside the time cut on a big mountains stage, be sure they’ll get reinstated. If Cav misses the cut but gets a reprieve Cannondale should throw a fit. Maybe Inrng can do a re-cast of the results in years passed if the timecut had been strictly enforced; I imagine the effect on the points competition would be material.
      3. If this was a road stage he could have drafted or caught a tow from the team car to make the cut while suffering a nominal monetary fine, but there’s no place to hide in the TT.

      To your point, I think the Tour should be more harsh. If the timecut remains, it should be strictly enforced (barring external interfence, i.e., trains, etc.). If that means only one-third of the peloton makes it to Paris, then so be it. Once exceptions are allowed things become messy.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 10:06 pm

        1. Well the official time keeper is just that. Official. His SRM (as is the same for all others) does not determine race times.

    • Ross Thursday, 4 July 2013, 12:25 am

      You’re right. I don’t understand why there is such a brouhaha about him being disqualified. He missed the time cut, and with his injuries, he’s probably better off leaving the race as he would have been a possible liability to his team. As people have said, it is a tough race.

      • Mountain goat Thursday, 4 July 2013, 5:48 am

        I really feel for Ted King, his first TdF and he did give it everything in the TTT. However if Cannondale had wanted to keep him in the team they could of given him help in the TTT. They do not have any GC aspirations and so their TTT does not have any special significance. Could they not of dropped a man to help Ted King get to the line quicker? They clearly decided that he should try on his own, dropping him within 200m of the start. Still what a great effort to nearly make the cut when it was the fastest TT ever.

      • The Inner Ring Thursday, 4 July 2013, 8:13 am

        He’s a popular on Twitter with a good website and if you look at the photos, he’d lost weight like Sky rider to help make his team for the Tour. I’ve got a link on the right to his website and blog which often includes fun things. The departure of any rider is sad – Maxime Bouet going out with an injury is a shame, I wanted to see what he could do in the mountains and he’s another peloton nice guy too – but King’s story saw questions over timing and just seven seconds out.

  • Ausvelo Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:50 pm

    Reading your reports and previews daily, thank you.

    I know I asked this question last year, could you let me know the number of vertical metres of the stages? I feel a lot of people would appreciate knowing the stage is 228 km, with 3,000 vertical metres for example. It gives hard data on just how tough the stages are for the different types of riders.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 12:55 pm

      I don’t have the numbers. Normally they’re published but not this year.

      • Ausvelo Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 1:11 pm

        It’s interesting that they didn’t publish them this year. I know they’re reluctant to have too much technical information but I consider this figure to be quite basic and also one that adds enjoyment for those watching at the end of a long stage.

  • PT Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 2:17 pm

    The handling of ted king as well as the nonsense fine for tony Martin were a blight on this stage. Bureaucratic foolishness.

    • hoh Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 3:14 pm

      What happens to Martin? Don’t tell me they are fining him for the crash.

      • Robbo Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 4:46 pm

        I believe he was fined for having world champs stripes on his TT bike…

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 4:50 pm

          That’s right. The UCI has trademarked the rainbow stripes and is getting very strict about unpermitted use, for example by bike companies.

          More on the trademark: http://inrng.com/2011/06/rainbow-jersey-uci-trademark/

          • Nick Evans Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 6:18 pm

            Well, they’ve trademarked the specific logo shown here: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tmcase/Results/1/UK0002008586B But the protection only applies to sportswear and sports footwear, and prevents others from *selling* items with this logo without the UCI’s permission.

            The trademark registration doesn’t prevent others from simply wearing it, though, let alone from wearing other logos which happens to use those colours. That restriction is imposed by the UCI’s competition rules. That aside, it does seem daft that the world TT champion can’t wear his world champion stripes in a TT race.

  • Greg Keller Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 2:40 pm

    Can anyone on here help with a Tour trivia question I have: who is the TdF stage winner who was sitting lowest on GC the day he won his stage? Has a Lanterne Rouge ever done it?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 2:49 pm

      In 1969 Pierre Matignon won on the Puy de Dôme. There’s an ARTE documentary about it and Antoine Blondin wrote a good piece about it. I don’t know if there are others but this is a good story.

  • Greg Keller Wednesday, 3 July 2013, 2:53 pm

    Wicked! You’re amazing. Thanks.