By David Hunter
Stage 4 Recap
We got a breakaway win, as predicted. A few of the men I mentioned made the break but so did Maxime Bouet. Team Sky were happy to let him take yellow, but NetApp – Endura rode hard to try and bring the break back. They failed, but stopped Bouet from taking yellow. On the final climb, Trofimov moved away from the break. The riders hesitated and he was off. As the descent was very technical, the first man over the climb was always going to win, and he did. Larsson was 2nd and Ligthart 3rd.
Stage 5 Sisteron – La Mure 184km
Another hard day to control.
It’s another very demanding day in the saddle, with 6 categorised climbs:
Col de Manse – 6.6km at 6.2%
Cote du Motty – 2.3km at 8.1%
Cote du Pont-Haut 2.7km at 7.4%
Col de Malissol 2km at 8.8%
Col de la Morte 3.1km at 8.4%
Cote de Laffrey 6.3km at 6.2%
Crucially, all these climbs occur in a 100km period. This is going to make the stage hard to control for Team Sky. There admission that they wanted to give away yellow, can be seen as a sign of weakness. They obviously feel that their team isn’t as strong as it should be, perhaps they should have brought Wiggins after all!
The amount of climbs and their tough gradients, slims down the riders capable of winning this stage. Looking at riders who can climb and sprint, brings us down to 3: Gallopin, Gerrans and Kwiatkowski. With Lotto focused on helping Van Den Broeck, in the GC, I don’t see them riding hard at the front of the peloton. OPQS are capable of this, but again the stage is very hard to control. I think they’ll put a rider in the break and see what happens. Gerrans seems to be building form for the Tour, I don’t think he’s at the required level, yet.
Team Sky will be forced to control matters, but the fact that they wished to lose yellow will encourage a few riders that are relatively high up on GC. Ryder Hesjedal is 3:50 down on GC, will they let him go? It will be interesting to see how Sky play this.
If Tinkoff – Saxo want to be cute, they could send Jesus Hernandez in the break. He is 3:06 down and Sky won’t like the prospect of Contador’s pal taking yellow. Will they be bold enough to try this tactic, to enforce Sky to work hard?
It certainly looks like a stage for a breakaway. Some teams missed out today and their DSs will not be happy. Expect these teams to be represented in this stage.
The final climb is 20km from the end of the stage and not hard enough for the GC riders to attack each other. With a big weekend of racing, I don’t expect any major chances on GC.
The crucial part of the stage will be the beginning. Getting into the break will be hard, but of great importance! Again we need to consider riders in form and teams that need a win.
Also, this stage is crucial for the KOM jersey. We should see Reza and Damaseau resuming their fight for the classification.
To win the stage, you need to be in the break and be able to climb. Focusing on riders lower down the GC, we have: Chavanel, Westra, Koren, Voeckler, Mate, Taaramae, Visconti, Gougeard, Nerz, Moinard, Verona, Cunego, Tankink and Huzarski.
Both Chavanel and Westra tried to go today but were not allowed by Team Sky. Voeckler tried on the final climb, but failed. He then lost time, so he will be allowed to escape in stage 5. I am very interested in the talented young Spaniard, Carlos Verona. He might just be 21 years old, but he is a massive talent. Could this be his breakthrough win? He is no stranger to a break, having won the KOM jersey in the 2012 Vuelta Ciclista a Leon, when riding for Burgos BH. He’s now with OPQS and might just be allowed a chance to attack.
What about Tommy Voeckler. He’s the man everyone will be looking towards. It is very difficult to continually win from the break, when everyone is expecting it. He will be in the break, but with so much expected of him, will he succeed?
I went for him in stage 4, but he failed to make the break. I’ll stick with my man Visconti!
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