Glance at the profile and it looks like a day for the sprinters but look more closely and the final 30km include some disruptive roads that promise a tense finish with several sharp climbs including a 15% wall with two kilometres to go.
Stage 5 Wrap
A day for a breakaway? Too many people had the same idea and a high pressure start saw a large crash after 14km that put six riders out of the race with more visiting the hospital after the stage. We got a break which swelled to 17 riders then got reduced in the heat to one: Simon Špilak, the man who says he doesn’t like the heat.
A good day for Katusha and Igor Makarov gets a decent photo to hang in the office, all the better as the win was achieved on Russia’s national holiday.
We had an attack from Contador. After the race the reactions were Rashomon-esque. Froome said he didn’t respond, his team did and they let him go up the road knowing they’d bring him back while in the Tinkoff camp the story was that Contador was sowing panic and forcing the others to react. It shows Contador’s willing to try any move, anywhere. He said the other day the Dauphiné didn’t matter but his move was serious and put Sky under pressure, in July he’ll find Roman Kreuziger beside him for the old 1-2.
- Km 89.5 – Côte de la Bétaz, 1.5 kilometre-long climb at 4.4% – category 4
- Km 159.0 – Côte de Marcellaz-Albanais, 4.6 kilometre-long climb at 4.1% – category 4
- Km 171.0 – Côte de Ronzy, 1.7 kilometre-long climb at 6.3% – category 4
The race starts in Grenoble and heads northwest, away from the Alps and the nearby Chartreuse massif. All around there are tall cliffs and mountains but a gentle start awaits. It’s the story of the day as the race heads past the Lac d’Aiguebelette and passes below the Grand Colombier, mountains all round but the race sticks to the flatter roads, a scenic tour without the effort.
The tourism continues with the Fier river gorges but it’s after here that the racing gets tougher. First is the Côte de Marcellaz-Albanais, a drag of 4% for 5km and followed by an uncategorised climb featuring a few hairpins on the way up. Then follows an awkward wooded descent and a double-digit rise before the race veers down a small lane, the kind you might send a village race. This then rears up as the Côte de Ronzy before reaching the finish town of Poisy. The race passes so close to the finish line the riders will be able to hear Daniel Mangeas’s voice but they must head out of town again on another small road.
The Finish: the mayor of Poisy must have driven a hard bargain as the race goes all around his small town. As the graphic shows there’s a 15% wall with two kilometres to go, it’s narrow and irregular. Things ease to leave a regular finishing straight.
The Scenario: everything but a sprint? When the route was announced it was easy to look at the profile and assume a fast finish. But since the maps have gone online it’s been possible to zoom in on the geography and today’s finish is very disruptive with all kinds of obstacles to derail a sprint train and ditch their sprinter with climbs and twisting descents. If the bunch does come in together, expect a chaotic finish. But we should get a breakaway, perhaps this time a late move in the finale?
The Contenders: a spiky and selective finish makes this ideal for Simon Gerrans. Better still his coach Benoît Nave lives nearby and the pair must know the roads very well. But is he ready to race? He’s sat tight all week and might be building for the Tour. Another Nave client is Ag2r’s Maxime Bouet who will be inspired as the stage passes through the region where he grew up.
Otherwise it’s lottery pick time. Orica-Greenedge’s Daryl Impey has been showing well while riders like Tony Gallopin, Julien Simon, Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Roelandts and Zdeněk Štybar will like the punchy finish. Perhaps OPQS neo-pro Julian Alaphilippe can be added to the list too.
One to watch is Arnaud Démare. It might not be for the sprinters but he is more than sprinter as we saw in the Four Days of Dunkerque. This might be too hilly but watch.
|Tony Gallopin, Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Roelandts, Julien Simon
|Vichot, Štybar, Bouet, Alaphilippe
Weather: warm and sunny but cooler with a top temperature of 28°C (82°F) with a light breeze from the north.
TV: The finish is forecast for 2.45pm Euro time.
It’s live on French TV and Eurosport which means there should be a stream to watch, see cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv for a feed. The racebook says it’s around the world including NBC in the US and SBS in Australia. Subscribe properly rather than use a pirate feed and you’ll be treated to HD images.