Paris-Nice Stage 5 Preview

A sprint stage, the last sprint stage which suggests all the teams with house sprinters have a big interest in controlling the stage. Easier said than done, this stage shares many of the same roads as one of the stages last year including the Côte de Saint-Uze which saw off plenty of rivals. This time the stage finish is different with a high speed descent on the approach before an uphill run to the line.

Stage 4 Wrap: a stage win for Julian Alaphilippe. He set the best time to the intermediate check point which was a surprise because he wasn’t expected to be so proficient on the flat roads, instead the climb seemed suited to his explosive, punchy style. But he won ahead of Alberto Contador and an impressive Tony Gallopin and takes the yellow jersey. He’s already been on the mind as The Pick for Stage 6 and a contender for the final stagein Nice, now the question is how well he can climb for Saturday’s Stage 7 to the top of the Col de la Couillole: his ride in Abu Dhabi says he’ll cope just fine. Michael Matthews was a surprise too, he made the top-10 but crashed near the top of the climb anwas stuck in the 11T sprocket for the final tortuously steep bends.

The Route: in order to reach Nice, best go south and the longest stage of the week uses a classic route along the Rhone valley, so classic in fact that it shares a lot of the same roads as Stage 4 last year. It’s rolling terrain and the first marked climb is above Givors, a rusting town that’s seen better days. It’s listed as 4.3km at 4.2% but in reality a white line painted along the much longer climb of the Col du Croix Regis (10km at 3%).

The race drops off the Mont Pilat mountain for a straightforward intermediate sprint in the Rhone valley before the climb near St Uze. It’s a sharp ascent with 3km at 7%, enough to shake-out a sprinter or two and several riders were caught out last year by the severity of this climb, you might remember Andrew Talansky being among those dropped a year ago. They’ll have time to get back on with 47km to go but it adds to the fatigue for the sprinter and team mates tasked with towing them back.

The Finish: fast and furious, with a significant downhill run as they head under the 1km to go point which sits in the middle of a 1km descent at 4%, the lead out men will need their 55T chainrings for this point before the road levels out and then for the final 350m it climbs at 3% before levelling off by the finish line.

The Contenders: a dip and an uphill run to the line? That’s exactly the shape of finish where Marcel Kittel beat Bryan Coquard in a photo-finish sprint during the Tour de France last year. The downhill and the reciprocal uphill were both longer but it shows this finish is fine for both riders. Kittel’s challenge this time is the St. Uze climb 47km from the finish but some teams could use it to eject some sprinters although this seems unlikely. Otherwise it’s now or never for Kittel. The same applies to all the other sprinters. Sam Bennett has to be on our list because he was the best by a bike length two days ago in part thanks to riding Alexander Kristoff’s wheel.

Dylan Groenewegen often seems to push a big gear in the sprints and this could be hard for today’s uphill finish, the same for Arnaud Démare but the latter is looking sharp uphill. Another pick for an uphill finish are Michael Matthews but he might prefer tomorrow given his form and John Degenkolb. Last comes André Greipel

Marcel Kittel
Sam Bennett, Alexander Kristoff
Démare, Degenkolb, Matthews

Weather: a light tailwind and a top temperature of 17°C and some sunshine.

TV: the climb of St. Uze could be done and dusted by the time coverage starts at 3.30pm CET, especially with the tailwind. The finish is for 4.30pm CET. 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 for links to feeds and streams.

13 thoughts on “Paris-Nice Stage 5 Preview”

    • It depends, for some the race is over in terms of personal ambitions but several teams need plenty of help, eg Zakarin could do with Kristoff, Alaphilippe needs Kittel, Gallopin needs Greipel. They’re useful on the flat so they and the teams will surely weigh up what they can contribute. The weather looks set for sunshine and warmer temperatures so I suspect most will aim to start Sunday’s final stage.

      • It’s not the done thing for sprinters to pack up early in week long stage races, is it? Besides being useful for GC team mates on the flats, it’s climbing practice for future grand tours for themselves, I would imagine.

  1. Both Alaphilippe’s and Matthews’ performances were surprisingly impressive.
    Could Ala be a GT contender for the future, after all? He’s certainly got to be a hot pick for one of the hilly classics this year.
    And hopefully Mat’s TT talents indicate that he could be an LBL challenger as well as M-SR.
    OK, it was a short TT and I’m maybe getting over-excited. Hopefully, Gallopin can do something in the classics too.
    And you were spot-on about Porte losing his focus and flow.

    • I didn’t realise Matthews fell off! What a performance. He’s looked a little gunshy in the Sprint Royals but if he’s traded a bit of top end speed for new skills it could be interesting.
      I saw him gurning around those last few bends and thought – jeez they must be steep – but now I understand…

  2. Enjoying the No Commentary option on Eurosport, what a pleasurable choice to have just the sounds as if your stood by the road. A big thank you to Eurosport and NO i’m not being sarcastic/

    • No Commentary is a great idea! The Youtube reruns of the British Eurosport coverage I’ve watched have me saying “Let Kelly talk!” or “Let Brian Smith(?) talk!” What I don’t understand is the dullards sit right next to the experts but prattle on like they know what they’re talking about, only to be contradicted by the expert when he finally gets a turn. Do they not listen to anything but the producer in the earpiece and the sound of their own voice? I’m not saying this is an easy job, but these blokes are simply awful!

  3. 90KM plus of TA live today and jumping to PN live also. Another added bonus of the “No Commentary” view is that there are no ad breaks. I hope this facility will remain on ES its great, however, they want you watching ads, those pesky marketing bods.

    • Ha, looks like I didn’t finish the sentence and put his name in bold. Of course it was going to say “Last comes André Greipel who is the invincible pick today”… no from memory it was more like “last… but not least, he’s tended to win stages like this and in the Tour once he’s been overlooked”.

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