A good stage but it’s possible the best part is hidden from view as the tricky Col du Barioz will be climbed before the TV coverage begins. This climb is difficult and could be selective. It won’t Chris Froome and his team but it could see sprinters ejected for good despite the promise of a flat finish in Grenoble.
Stage 5 Wrap: Rohan Dennis enjoyed a day in yellow but cracked on the final climb. He did everything right in terms of positioning until he cracked and was left turning a giant gear, as if his front mech was stuck.
Chris Froome did what the Dutch call the dubbelslag: a double strike, he won the stage and took the overall lead. He said his team set the pace on the final climb so he felt obliged to win. He’s wooing the media at the moment, L’Equipe praised his manners after taking many questions in post-race press conference after the time trial despite his team media handler trying to get him out of there and Froome’s French will be an asset for the millions who will watch the race on TV. Froome will be more defined by his ability to get out of the saddle and win but if the French media have taken to him, all the better for him.
Back to the racing and Alejandro Valverde had a go but Team Sky’s mountain train had the better of him, Valverde’s best trick is a sprint on a mountain stage so it was a surprise to see him go early. Behind there was trouble for Joaquin Rodriguez who punctured whilst Pierre Rolland was delayed by a crash in front of him. With the tempo being set up ahead they could not get back.
Alberto Contador bounced back with an attack that only only Chris Froome could match. The Spaniard might have lost out in the time trial and will lose this race but he’s still climbing faster than the others in the lead group bar Froome.
Radioshack’s Matthew Busche deserves a mention. He was in the day’s break and when they started the first climb he’d vanished from the TV coverage. But as ever, the TV only looks at a tiny section of the race and Busche was pacing himself and eventually rode past his earlier breakaway companions with a measured effort on the climb and held on for third place. A note of Daniel Moreno and Daniel Navarro, potential mountain stage winners for the weekend.
The Route: it’s not possible to freewheel from the start to the finish but the race could ride down the main valley for an easy ride. Instead though the race heads away from the valley floor for a series of climbs, notably the Col du Barioz, 7.1km at 7.3% but the first kilometre is 10%. It’s on tricky roads that are narrow and reminiscent of the Giro and the Col des Ayes is sharp, 3.8 km climb at 8.1 %. Then the race sticks to series of lumpy roads.
The Finish: fast and flat, the last three kilometres are a straight line all the way until the 500m to go sign when a left-hander appears.
The Scenario: sprint or breakaway? It’s a short stage meaning if a move goes, it has to be kept on a tight rein and this is not easy for teams used to controlling a move in time rather than right from the start. Normally it would be time for a breakaway to enjoy the day but OPQS probably want to set up Gianni Meersman for the win and they have prodigious horsepower in Tony Martin, Sylvain Chavanel, Michał Kwiatkowski and more. Other teams also have ambitions, Sky could set up Edvald Boasson Hagen again whilst Elia Viviani seems to be climbing well. Nacer Bouhanni has been finding the climbing hard going and there’s not much time to get back on once the climbing is done, only 40km or so.
Superstition: still stuck for a pick? Thor Hushovd has showed himself in Stage 3 and the race arrives in Grenoble, the home of Stendhal, a French writer (despite the Norwegian-sounding nom de plume). His most famous book is probably Le Rouge et le Noir so what better place for a BMC rider to win?
TV: the Col du Barioz will be climbed around 1.00pm so it’ll be too early for the TV. Once again remember the early finish for 2.45pm. cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv have the links to video streams if you can’t get it on TV.
Weather: the same as before only warmer: sunshine turning to rain with potentially a storm later on. But the early start and finish every day could be a saving grace for those who don’t like the rain. And should it rain, the temperature is forecast to rise steadily throughout the day, going from 21°C to a fine 26°C during the stage.