Thizy-les-Bourgs > Chaintré 162.2km
Stage 5 and the day that BikeExchange have been waiting for. They will be delighted to see this stage doesn’t contain a nasty cat 2 climb with 50km to, just a couple of cat 4 efforts in the final 30km. This is a stage they need to seize with both hands.
A nice day with cloudy sun.
This is the first of the cat 4 climbs at the end of the stage, this one is 3.4km at 3.3%.
The final climb is 3.4km at 3.2% and it crests with 12km to go.
Straight, with just two roundabouts to deal with. Both sides will be open, and it looks like both ways round are just about the same.
Over to BikeExchange, this stage is their hope of turning the race from a nightmare into a success. They will try their best to ensure a weak break gets away, this is very important as they might not get much help to chase. Break management is crucial in this stage.
It would be perfect for the team to only use one man in the chase, two at a push, they need as many as they can for the finale. Despite bringing their star sprinter to this race, they’ve not brought his sprint train. They will want to keep Durbridge, Edmondson and Jansen for the final 2km, it’s not the best train in the world, but it’s good enough to control the finale of this stage. The worry for the team will be getting jumped in the final 500m, especially with Laporte ready to smash to the front with Van Aert. I’m hoping we get to see a big bunch sprint, watching Wout go up against Dylan will be fun.
Hoping to spoil the party will be the break. With just one team likely to chase, there is a chance for the attackers to take the win, but it all depends on the size and strength of the move. Therefore, the opening kilometres are so important for BikeExchange, most teams will want to attack, which will make it very difficult for the team trying to control. Only a handful of riders are good enough climbers to win the stages at the weekend, that means there’s only two chances left for everyone else in the bunch. Expect a very fast start, but will Jumbo-Visma help BikeExchange to get the right break up the road? If it doesn’t contain a GC rider, I don’t think Jumbo-Visma will be too bothered about chasing.
Even with a GC threat in the break, will Jumbo want chase? Okay, I’m not talking about a real threat for the yellow jersey come Sunday, I’m talking about a rider who’ll take the jersey in this stage, but isn’t a good enough climber to challenge at the weekend. There are a number of very strong riders sitting within 5 minutes of Van Aert, none of whom pose a threat to Roglič, we’ll have to see how Jumbo-Visma approach this stage.
Dylan Groenewegen – why did BikeExchange bring him to this race? It could be that Dylan requested it, knowing that he needed this race in the legs to have a chance of hauling himself over the mountains in the Tour de France. Whatever the reason for being here, this was always going to be his best shot at taking a stage win. His recent form has been pretty good, he’s been looking very fast in the sprint finishes. He must start this stage as the big favourite but beating Van Aert won’t be easy.
Wout Van Aert – with Laporte to guide him in the final 500m, he can win this stage, even against the power of Groenewegen. You would normally say that Groenewegen would win a flat sprint, but after struggling through the opening three stages, his legs could be on the tired side. Remember, not only has Van Aert won in Paris, but he’s also won a bunch sprint against Caleb Ewan in Tirreno, he’s bloody quick.
Mikkel Honoré – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Jannick Steimle – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Rémi Cavagna – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Harry Sweeny – breakaway hopeful number 4.
It’s all about the size and composition of the break. BikeExchange’s work went unrewarded in the opening two stages, but I think we’ll see them get it right and Dylan Groenewegen will win the stage.