I must admit, the race is turning out a bit odd in terms of GC battles and breakaway battles. The main issue is, something I have not factored in enough, the flat starts. The slingshots work in theory, but it often takes around 15 tries to form a breakaway. Enough rambling about misread outcomes. Stage 5 has around 2500 climbing meters and it finishes in Lausanne with an uphill finish near the Lac Léman. I have been there once – and bathed in the lake numerous times.
It is a drag, but I think some sprinters will be keen enough to try to hold on. Here, I’m looking at Ewan, Matthews and Wout van Aert. It does not really look difficult enough for a potential breakaway to split. A well-timed attack, yes – but it could end in a sprint from a small group – a flat sprint.
Wind from the north, but not enough for echelons. A crosswind most of the day. No rain – and temps around 20 degrees C.
How will the stage unfold?
There are two scenarios.
b) Sprint from a reduced peloton.
A) It has been some hard days for the Tour de France riders, when do they want a breather? Pogacar took his mountain top stage win – a well-deserved one as UAE did most of the hard work. They wanted a margin, they want to keep the jersey but let the breakaway take victories along the way.
What is important, very important, is that the breakaway has a chance of forming on the flat again. There is a short climb 32 km into the stage – it could form there as well. That means rouleurs should have a good chance. One of the main reasons for the breakaway taking so long to form today was the fact that we saw slingshots. Tomorrow, the climbers will ease off a bit.
b) Who wants a sprint? Jumbo-Visma. What do you want? I think Wout van Aert is the favorite for this stage and he can’t be tamed. If he gets in the breakaway, he will be tough to beat. If he doesn’t, will the team invest ressources into him winning? I think the answer is yes!
Then we have BEX for Matthews. It is a good-looking stage but I can’t see him beating Wout van Aert. And is it too difficult for Caleb Ewan? I do not think he is. Then we have TotalEnergies (Sagan), Trek-Segafredo (Pedersen) and Intermarché (Kristoff). We could see a few teams wanting something tomorrow.
Wout van Aert – the big favorite. He can win in both scenarios. We will have to see which way he would like to win tomorrow.
Matthews – I think BEX will try and set up a sprint for him tomorrow. It will be difficult to win, but we could see another good placement for Bling tomorrow.
Ewan – it has not been his Tour de France. If it will be a sprint tomorrow, I think it will be difficult to drop him. The smaller the group, the less his chances of starting his sprint far back. I think he will do well tomorrow.
Pidcock – finally starting to perform well after a tough spring. He has beating WvA in this type of terrain tomorrow and 4th in Longwy was a good result despite being boxed in.
Phillipsen – too hard? I think he stands a chance.
Pedersen – too hard? He used a bit of energy for Ciccone today. Perhaps the stage suits Mollema a bit more. On another hand, he a tough finish – just look at his results in France this spring.
Mohoric – Breakaway hope 1
Kron – Breakaway hope 2
Bettiol – Breakaway hope 3
Honoré – Breakaway hope 4
Who will win?
Wout van Aert.