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.

50 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 5 Preview”

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. “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.

  10. “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.

    • 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!

      • 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?

      • 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Hi,
    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?

    • 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.

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