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Tour de France Stage 3 Preview

A hilly stage with a lively uphill finish. The different finish means different teams will chase today because the slopes in Longwy are too much for most sprinters which in turn means more riders might fancy their chance in the day’s breakaway.

Taylor Phinney

Stage 2 review: an instant breakaway of four riders but not necessarily a futile move. Taylor Phinney took the king of the mountains jersey and Yoann Offredo scooped up plenty of publicity for his Wanty-Gobert team. When asked what his plans were before the stage he cited the Ghislain Lambert film and team orders “to see Magicreme everywhere“, in other words his team had to get in the move. With 30km to go there was a crash at the front of the bunch which brought down many riders including Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Romain Bardet, Richie Porte and Robert Gesink and many more, some superficial injuries reported but nobody left the race. If the bunch sprint was a certainty, many teams saw their plans falls apart and most of the top riders came into the final 400m without help, having to watch their rivals and wait for others to make their move. Peter Sagan went first but his generous effort just launched the sprint for others while Marcel Kittel was out of the picture at first but bided his time in the slipstream before surging to the win. He was clearly the fastest in the finish. Second placed Arnaud Démare was close and will hope his team can deliver him again, this time he lost Mickaël Delage in the big crash and Ignatas Konovalovas to a puncture in the final kilometres. Mark Cavendish was an encouraging fourth after a long sprint in the headwind.

The Route: 212km across Belgium and Luxembourg before the races reaches France. The first climb is listed at Sart and 2.8km at 5.1% but the road rises long before, this is hilly country in the Ardennes and familiar to many racers from the Eneco Tour, the Ster ZLM and other events.

The climb to Eschdorf is listed as 2.3km at 9.3% and arguably the first real climb of the Tour with a pronounced gradient and hairpin bends. Along with the climb to Wiltz there’s a real opportunity to get out and take the mountains jersey and keep it for a day because tomorrow only has one marked climb so we can expect a breakaway to mop up the points.

The Finish: they ride downhill via some wide hairpin bends, pass over the railway line and after crossing the Chiers river they take the Rue de l’Abbatoir. With 2.3km the road dips down before a sharp left bend to funnel the riders onto a narrow road and the start of the climb to the finish, here the road rises a little more than the profile suggests before the start of the the Rue de la Banque, the steep part of the finish. It’s here they flick left, another pinch point where contenders need to be well-placed, and then they climb with 8-10% biting soon before the slope eases to 6%. There’s a left bend where it’s steep on the inside but worth the shortcut and then comes the flamme rouge, followed by a sharp bend to the right and the climbs at 3-4% to the line, easing for the final 100 metres.

The Contenders: Peter Sagan is an obvious pick, he’s the normally the master at these kind of finishes. But you’ll remember Zdeněk Štybar winning ahead of him in the 2015 Tour de France in Le Havre, ditto Greg Van Avermaet in Rodez that year. But those were the days when Sagan kept finishing second, he’s a more prolific winner but both of those riders are contenders today. Štybar might be tasked with trying to get Matteo Trentin to the finish because the Italian is a 10 second time bonus away from the yellow jersey thanks to the hundredths of a second recorded in the time trial and Trentin will probably find this finish too much. Meanwhile also at Quick Step Philippe Gilbert‘s problem is not the climb, it’s the way the road levels out towards the finish. He used to be invincible in finishes like this but he’s about to turn 35 this week and doesn’t have that old zip so he’s not such a firm pick

Michael Matthews is a good challenger but how to beat Sagan? Does he ask his team for a high tempo on the steepest parts of the climb to try and put Sagan and the other sprinters into the red knowing he just might be able to outpace them or just simply stick to Sagan and hope for the best with 100 metres to go?

There’s a long list of other contenders who will queue on Sagan’s wheel. Diego Ulissi might prefer a slightly more sustained climb but is still very good for a finish like this and maybe UAE team mate Ben Swift can hold tight for the sprint. FDJ will count on Arthur Vichot who looked good in the Tour de Suisse but the level of opposition here is so big that a win seems unlikely. Orica-Scott have Michael Albasini, a specialist at uphill finishes but a rare winner outside his native Switzerland. Trek-Segafredo’s Fabio Felline could pounce, Cannondale-Drapac’s Patrick Bevin is handy for short uphill sprints and Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen had a great time trial, the form is there. Finally Movistar’s Carlos Betancur who is looking much leaner these days, perhaps not the winner but we’ll see if he’s back to his fighting weight.

Peter Sagan
Michael Matthews
Ulissi, Boasson Hagen, Felline, Albasini, Bevin, Van Avermaet, Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, Swift

Weather: cloudy with some sun at times, 18°C and a 20km/h wind from the west, meaning a light crosswind for 90% of the stage before a headwind for the final 20 minutes until the reach the finish in Longwy where they zig and zag to the finishing straight with a tailwind.

TV: live from the start at 12.15pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.20pm CET.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • diamondjim Monday, 3 July 2017, 6:08 am

    Chapeau for your return to form with your predictions – your 10 picks filled 8 of the top 10, + 13th and 15th. That nearly makes up for missing out on the ITT result 😉

    • Pierre Monday, 3 July 2017, 7:31 am

      +1. Another solid start to the Grand Tour “INRNG” better strategy (bet on a 3-sprocket pick, if it wins half the winnings on the next days picks). Normally turns a few quid into enough money to spend on jerseys and other cycling things (from Prendas of course)

      • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:12 am

        Most people lose their shirt betting, not buying new ones 😉

        I can only feel nervous reading this. I remember a very angry email from a reader a couple of years ago saying he bet on the predictions during the Tour and lost money, I had to explain that I sadly could not predict the future.

        • Jostein Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:54 am

          Priceless! 🙂

          Really love your previews!
          They’re a big talking point at home, and my 12-year old always ask’s “what does inrng thinks before this stage dad?” 🙂

        • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:17 am

          Wow. That is incredible.

          People are MAD.

          I have to admit I come here because there is a significant reduction in the madness levels, never expected someone like that would visit here!

          PS – Where is Gabriele? We miss you Gabriele.

        • Frank Monday, 3 July 2017, 4:46 pm

          It’s sort of a compliment, in a backhanded way, that people expect you to be infallible.

        • diamondjim Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 4:10 am

          2 wins in 2 days 🙂

  • Ecky Thump Monday, 3 July 2017, 7:00 am

    On the retro theme, it’s cool to see the proliferation of tan wheel walls in the peloton.
    Even if their price is thoroughly contemporary!

    • Pedant Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:34 am

      Tubulars you mean..

  • Larrick Monday, 3 July 2017, 7:37 am

    Colbrelli might be the quickest of the climby sprinters. Needs to keep up on the first half though but if he does he could make it an Italian one/two with Felline.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:13 am

      I could not include everyone, I wonder if he’s not too heavy and if he’s there then surelty Sagan and Matthews get the better of him? We’ll see.

      • Larrick Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:28 pm

        If it’s like stage 2 last year then Sagan and Matthews might find the likes of Dan Martin getting in the way but it might be a little easier. If so, then my tip would be Sagz, Bling, Colbrelli, Ulissi and Felline with Froome in 9th. 😊

        • ZigaK Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:25 pm

          Froome came in 9th, good call.

  • Martijn Boss Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:02 am

    Hi, enjoying your wrap-ups as usual! Small correction: Robert Gesink stated he did not go down but stopped to help Tom Leezer, important part of Groenewegen’s sprint lead-out. On some footage one could indeed see him trying to repair a teammates’ bike. Gesink doesn’t mind losing some time, probably hoping to be in the right escape group on Wednesday…

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:13 am

      Thanks, glad to hear it. Gesink was joking on Saturday that after his good TT he needed to start losing time. We’ll see if he goes for stage wins, either way he sounds relaxed and in good shape.

  • Michael Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:06 am

    Slight correction – Philippe Gilbert will turn 35 this week.

  • stevhanti Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:07 am

    GVA beating Sagan in Rodez was also in Rodez. I’d like to add Jan Bakelants as aa one chainring contender. He said on sporza radio he’d done a recon of this stage and might get his chance if Bardet is safe.

    • Anonymous Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:47 am

      You mean Porte?

  • stevhanti Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:08 am

    Also in 2015 😏

  • Helmer Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:15 am

    Definately missing Colbrelli here

  • Jorgelito Monday, 3 July 2017, 8:48 am

    Missing Valverde here, he would have been a top pick.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:14 am

      My top pick would have been… Julian Alaphilippe.

      • Gervais Monday, 3 July 2017, 12:24 pm

        I really wish he was racing!

      • Tricky Dicky Monday, 3 July 2017, 2:09 pm

        Interesting – a possible re-enactment of the MSR podium would have been on the cards. Shame to see Kwiat on bidon duty today: would have good for him.

        PS. For those with the English feed, Keenan & McEwan doing very well so far…. thank heavens for the change.

  • CGradeCyclist Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:07 am

    This Stage 2 from last year’s Tour all over again, with the messy uphill dash with both the Classics guys and the overall contenders. Except hopefully Richie Porte won’t lose 2 minutes again while the rest of the team follow GvA up the final hill!

    Would have thought guys like Dan Martin & Simon Yates (and maybe even Esteban Chaves) would feature high on the sprocket-meter?

  • AK Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:08 am

    It didn’t look to me like Sagan went first yesterday. He just ended up at the front a little too early. You could actually see him hold back and look over his shoulder when that happened. But Kittel came up too far to the right for him to get onto his wheel. Colbrelli was the one that went first.
    For today the mix between hilly start to the final and flatter finish keeps the excitement going until the final meters. But I think Sagan will not let this one escape him. It will also be interesting to see if any gc contender will attempt to take back a few petty seconds on Froome. Or the other way around, if Froome will try to stamp on his authority early like he did in Huy a few years back.

  • BillyBunter Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:09 am

    I would’ve thought Dan Martin is also the kind of bloke to give it a poke.

  • Logan Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:22 am

    Plenty of options, I noticed that about Trentin being only 10s down that maybe QST would fancy trying to get him to the line.

    GVA for me!

  • RonDe Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:29 am

    I once met Matteo Trentin after a Tour of Britain stage he won in 2015. I’m sure he’d like to win today and wear yellow for a day but sadly for him I just think there are better contenders. Can’t really see past the Sagan/GVA head to head but it will also depend on what break is allowed to go away. Thomas should retain yellow another day.

  • DJW Monday, 3 July 2017, 9:56 am

    See Mollema listed in 178th yesterday but with time lost apparently neutralised. Any explanation?

    Also, for the prologue TT, Velopro report that corner where Valverde, Durbridge and co crashed was the site of an earlier TdF moto crash which left fluid on the road. Confirmation?

    This afternoon the road to Longwy Haut is narrow at the steepest part which could help climber’s attack, if not a GC favorite. Can’t wait.

  • Tovarishch Monday, 3 July 2017, 10:03 am

    Longwy sounds Welsh.

    • Nick Monday, 3 July 2017, 10:21 am

      It would mean “egg ship” in Welsh (give or take a bit of mutation in the first letter). Wonder what that means for today’s stage?

  • Joe K. Monday, 3 July 2017, 10:12 am

    Today would be a great day for a strong Classics-style rider to go long on a solo breakaway–if he can somehow get away from the pack. The sheer length of the stage (211 Km) with a long climb at the end would be ideal for van Avermaet or Gilbert. Matthews rarely does the long solo break, and Sagan too. But those two are the favorites if the bunch stay together ’til the end. It would be fantastic to see a lesser known up-and-comer take the win today–like Naessen!

    • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:44 am

      Would be incredible to see maybe Gilbert try and sneak away, employ some classics tactics to the tour… although I realise there are very good reasons this rarely happens…

  • jc Monday, 3 July 2017, 10:31 am

    I wonder if we will see Sky attempt to grab a few more seconds here. I dont think the 3 second rule applies on this stage? Chris Froome gave it a go on the Mur de Huy a couple of years back. Michal Kwiatkowski seems to be in good form too. Of the other GC contenders maybe only Dan Martin or Simon Yates might be suited to this sort of finish. The chance to grab 5 seconds on Richie Porte or Nairo Quintana might be to good to miss.

    • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:18 am

      I have a sneaky feeling Kwiatowski could nip in here also.

    • Ecky Thump Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:37 am

      I have to agree with your Froome comment.
      You wonder if Kwia will actually lead him out, perhaps even Thomas too?
      It’ll be interesting to see whose wheel Sagan follows, as you feel a lot of early ‘bolters’ will run out of gas before the finish.
      And who follows Sagan’s wheel too – GVA no doubt!

    • Paul Jakma Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:48 am

      Remind me, what’s the rule for which stages the 3s rule does and does not apply on?

  • noel Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:11 am

    INRNG – not similar enough to see Vuillermoz repeat his storm up the Mur de Bretagne from 2015?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:13 am

      I did think of him too but the list of one chainring names was getting long enough already. He’s had a difficult year with a car crash earlier this year (he was in the car, not riding) which brought injuries and he’s been playing catch-up ever since.

      • noel Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:50 am

        ok thanks, I was also wondering if the Lotto Soudal triumverate of Gallopin/Wellens/Benoot might also be licking their lips today…

        • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:55 am

          Gallopin had a bad crash in the time trial, he struggled to get his swollen foot in the shoe. He’s in the race but suffering. We’ll see for Benoot and Wellens, they should be better for stages like Saturday with more climbing.

          • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 12:47 pm

            Real shame for Gallopin. His career seems to not be progressing as much as it should have.

            Should he move teams? Is he cursed by the jack-of-all-trades syndrome?

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:05 pm

            He’s probably going to Ag2r La Mondiale

  • Richard S Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:43 am

    I love stages like this as there are so many potential winners and the finish is bound to be exciting. You’ve got the obvious classics specialists such as Sagan, Gilbert and GVA, the GC men and an array of good climbers who could nip off while they all look at each other. Any one of about 5 Sky riders Could win this. I would say it’s ideal for both Kwiatkowski and Henao.

  • Kantele Monday, 3 July 2017, 11:56 am

    Guys, what do you think about following bets?

    Ben Swift over Colbrelli 3/1
    Degenkolb over Demare 2/1
    Fuglsang over Uran 2/3

    • AK Monday, 3 July 2017, 12:07 pm

      I think you should only make bets where the wager is a good bottle of wine or a case of craft beer.

      • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 12:46 pm

        I know nothing about betting but fascinated – so you can bet that a certain rider will beat another?
        That’s amazing.

        Swift over Colbrelli is a hard shout… Swift hasn’t shown brilliant sprinting form this season, but is climbing well (Dauphine) and was just behind Colbrelli yesterday.

        Colbrelli as won Brabantse Pijl this season and has had his best season to date in the big races… so it’s almost impossible to say. Personally I’d pick Colbrelli on recent form.

        Is it Degenkolb over Demare for today’s stage? Again… difficult! Demare is going very well currently but today is possibly too steep for him. Degenkolb I don’t expect to win but could place higher than Demare if as expected Demare is jettisoned…

        Fuglsang over Uran… cor? I wouldn’t expect either to be involved today, but as Fuglsang has almost never shown interest in small hilly bunch gallops and Uran has been decent in one dayer’s you’d have to go with Uran. I just doubt either will figure so it’s a lottery as to who might cross the line first. Seems a very random bet – as though you might as well bet between Luke Rowe vs Castrovejo today..

        I don’t really understand the odds – so if you bet £10 on Swift beating Colbrelli you get £30 back? That’s probably the one I’d risk it for a biscuit on…

        Although Degenkolb beating Demare is extremely likely today.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:08 pm

      Everyone bets at their own risk and it never works, most clients lose money and those that consistently make it are asked to take their business elsewhere so over time nobody wins. As a warning I’ll probably zap comments if there’s too much talk about betting and people seeking advice, it’s your own peril.

      • BenW Monday, 3 July 2017, 2:49 pm

        Please do, that’s not why I come here. Betting is the scourge of telly adverts here in the UK at the moment.

      • Kantele Monday, 3 July 2017, 3:04 pm

        Actually I’ve bet no more than a biscuit money here. It is just for fun and satisfaction.

        • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 3:33 pm

          I love you INRNG. Thank You for all the brilliant posting. And feel free to delete anything I write. I’m obvs the dumbo here and I don’t really even understand how it works. I’m genuinely surprised you can bet on a certain rider beating another rider. Sounds like you could rake it in with micro bets like that.

          • Kantele Monday, 3 July 2017, 5:06 pm

            These are the offerings of the bookmaker. They pick tricky matchups to fool you. You can’t pick any rider you like against another one. Another matchup iş Sagan over Matthews. They offer something like 1/2 for that. 15 bucks for 10. And for stage win Sagan also favorite @ 1.60.

          • Julius Monday, 3 July 2017, 6:12 pm

            Last comment on this as I’m sure it’ll be zapped if more – but if they’d done Demare over Degenkolb that would have been a great bet, quite surprised by the outcome of that match up. Same for Swift/Colbrelli although neither anywhere to be seen. Surprised Fuglsang/Uran turned out to be the most contested! That would have been the best bet.

          • Kantele Monday, 3 July 2017, 6:24 pm

            Hope our moderator bear with us but these are two sided bets. You can pick either Demare or Degenkolb. Since the odds are even you have the same return for Demare for the same amount of money. Anyway I didn’t check the results yet but for sure my bet is lost 🙂

  • DAVE Monday, 3 July 2017, 12:52 pm

    Really upset about L’Equipe today. They’ve stuck the knife into Sky on something that feels so minor and unnecessary.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:06 pm

      It’s not a big article and they put both sides of the story, I wouldn’t be too upset by it even if you’re an ardent Sky fan 😉

      • MrJonesDK Monday, 3 July 2017, 5:51 pm

        Maybe DAVE is Dave Brailsford… 🙂

        • DAVE Monday, 3 July 2017, 6:09 pm

          It is true.

  • tom dabek Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:30 pm

    Wouldn’t Thomas want to be up there at least to get same time as the winners and possibly pick up a few seconds on Kittel to protect his yellow against time bonuses on offer for Kittel in the coming days?

  • Cilmeri Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:49 pm

    From memory, Thomas sat up on a couple of similar stages in 2015 (mur de Bretagne…and one other one – possibly Huy?), which was a regret later in the race when he was still in touch of a podium. Suspect he won’t do the same this time, and may well lead Froome to the finish but keep on it all the way.

    I like Gilbert as a pick however given the year he’s been having.

  • Veloscot Monday, 3 July 2017, 1:50 pm

    I come on here to get away from the madness!

    Superb write up & preview as always.

  • irungo txuletak Monday, 3 July 2017, 2:04 pm

    Just read french press (l’equipe) and they have another insight on yesterday’s sprint. For them, Demare was clearly the fastest, only that he was surprised by Kittel sarting really strong form behind.

    I’d be surprised to see Gilbert winning this. This is definitely not steep enough in the last k.
    For me GvA or Sagan. Matthews if he plays it well.

  • Mark Williams Monday, 3 July 2017, 3:14 pm

    I have a good feeling about Ben Swift once you look passed the hot favourites of Sagan, Matthews and GVA.

  • Junker Monday, 3 July 2017, 6:08 pm

    No coverage seems to have mentioned Simon Yates dropped 10secs and Talansky dropped 25secs today.

    Shocked by Talansky. So strange how both US hopes of that generation have disappeared (TVG).

    • the other Andy Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:00 am

      Why? It’s just like a Cannondale rider (see: Ryder Hesjedal) to be incredibly poorly positioned at the decisive moment of a race and lose a good chunk of time in the first week of a race.

      • pax Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:38 am

        Is it really necessary to be slanderous?

        Stuff happens – I don’t know what it was – but if someone in front of you unclips at the wrong time it can cost quite a bit.

        The point being is that we get that BMC, Sky, Quickstep, Movistar, and sometimes Orica are better than the other teams right now. Money makes a big difference but constantly slamming other teams is not needed.

  • peloton.pl Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 2:07 am

    text great ( fdj train insight – marvel) photos just fab

    • peloton.pl Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 2:09 am

      just fab not meaning merely fab but opposite 🙂 striking