Well, the break made it as I kind of thought would happen. GVA took a fantastic win attacking away from De Gendt on the final Cat 2 climb and was never to be seen again! A great result for him after his Spring campaign was ruined by a crash. He now moves into yellow with a commanding 5 minute lead over the GC favourites.
How long can he hold on? Well it really depends how aggressively the parcours are covered on this weekend’s stages. He’d hope to at least make it to Stage 8 in the lead.
As for our stage picks, none of them made it into the break and because of the massively increased pace behind, Gallopin was dropped too. Not good. Swiftly moving on!
Tomorrow we have our last chance for the sprinters for a while, well it should be their stage. There is a chance that a break builds up a large gap on the opening part of the stage.
There could be a fast start to the day tomorrow if the riders sense that some of the sprinters are tired from today’s efforts. If we get a strong enough break then it could stick. However, this is very, unlikely. This isn’t the Giro, the sprint teams here at the Tour won’t mess up.
The final 30km of the stage are almost pan-flat so the break will probably have to have 4 minutes here to have a chance. There is a slight rise within the final 10km but it should have no real impact on the stage.
The most challenging feature of the finale tomorrow is the run-in itself. It’s very technical!
There is barely a straight road in sight within the final 5km. The route constantly meanders through the finishing town of Montauban.
The final kilometre itself is tricky, with the passage of a roundabout at approximately 700m to go, heading left. They then swing back round to the right and onto the finishing straight. You’ll need to be within the first 10 riders at this point to have any chance of winning the stage. Therefore, lead out trains will be crucial.
Kittel has to start as the favourite for the stage. He had a sloppy start to the race and his lead-out wasn’t working. However, they got their act together on stage 4, managing to deliver Kittel perfectly. His sprint on that stage shows that he’s on very good form, normally he wouldn’t podium on a finish like that. Tomorrow’s stage suits him down to the ground. If he gets through that roundabout safely, no one well beat him…
Before the Tour I had Greipel‘s Lotto Soudal team as the best lead-out in the race. They have been good so far, but there is room for improvement. Furthermore, the Gorilla hasn’t delivered a stage win yet. He really should have won stage 3. It’s well documented that Greipel doesn’t like a technical finish, however, he put those claims behind him after he won a tricky finish in the Giro earlier this year. Thankfully for him too, the weather looks like it will be kind and there will be no rain.
I have to now include Cavendish along with these two. Like many before the Tour, I was writing off his chances in the bunch sprints, but boy has he proved me wrong! His team Dimension Data seemed to have found their rhythm in the lead outs and on form probably have one of the best in the race. Cav seems to have regained his top end speed to go with his devastating kick. Can he make it 3 wins here? He has an incredible chance!
Away from these three main contenders we have:
Sagan who will hope to have regained some of his strength after today’s exertion. He has the technical ability to easily deal with the tricky finale tomorrow. No doubt, he’ll manage to find his way onto the back of the wheels of the best lead-out. Can he come round the sprinter in front of him? I don’t think so.
Kristoff looked much better on stage 4 and slowly seems to be finding his feet again. However, that stage suited him much more than this one. He’ll be hoping to sneak onto the podium but I can’t see it personally.
Coquard isn’t known for his pure flat sprint, but his result on Tuesday will have given him confidence. In Adrien Petit he has a great pilot fish, and I can envisage the pairing attempting the Ferrari/Modolo technique where they get in the mix only in the last 500m.
Groenewegen is growing into his first GT quite nicely. He came from way back on stage 4, another good indication of his form. He’ll hope to top 5 here and possibly sneak onto the podium.
The other usual suspects such as Theuns, Dumoulin & McClay etc will all hope for another top 10 finish.
So does the breakaway have a chance?
Simply put, not really no.
However, if the right composition gets away where several of the sprint teams have representatives in it, then it could stay to the line. The opening half of the race looks ideal to build up a large advantage. There would probably need to be at least a rider from 2 of the following Etixx/LottoS/DD for it to have any chance I think. BMC won’t chase if there is no one that will threaten the GC.
You’ll be able to tell after the opening 20km if it will make it or not. I’m not even going to bother to speculate names who could be involved. It’s hard enough to make an educated guess on a rolling/mountainous day, a sprint day is nigh on impossible!
We get a sprint and everything returns to normal. Kittel wins.
Kittel 5pts win at 13/8 with Paddy Power.
Thanks for reading! We should be in for a good show of strength from the sprint teams tomorrow, enjoy wherever you’re watching it from. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.