Paris-Nice 2018 – Stage 5 Preview

By David Hunter

Salon de Provence – Sisteron 165km

Now that the TT is out the way, the fun begins.

This stage is dominated by the first cat 1 climb of the race. The climb starts after 65km of the stage and is 11km at 7%, making it a proper effort. The climb crests with 90km remaining and the rest of the route is rather easy. After a descent, we have a long climb up Col du Négron and that’s really it for the hard climbing. We have a small cat 3 climb with 13km remaining, but it’s not hard enough to drop many riders.

The organisers have decided to be cheeky and place the final intermediate sprint on a little ramp, but will the GC boys be there to fight it out for the 3 second bonus?

Finale

A very easy finish with no big turns. What will the size of the front group be?

Weather

Should be a dry day for the bunch and a little sun.

Breakaway Hopes

This is a day a lot of riders will have marked in the road book. The cat 1 climb means that the sprinters will immediately not be keen on working hard all day. Does any team believe that much in their quick rider to work all day? I would seriously doubt it.

Then it’s over to the puncheur teams to chase. Julian Alaphilippe looks the fastest of these riders, but QuickStep will struggle to chase all day. Their team lacks climbers, I doubt they’ll have numbers left after the climb to chase down the bunch. If they go too slow on the climb, to try and save their riders, it will mean that sprinters will remain in the pack.

There is no need for Astana to chase, unless a GC threat is in the break. It looks like a great day for the escape artists.

Contenders

Jelle Wallays – already has a breakaway win to his name in 2018, taking a stage in San Juan. The Flemish rider is looking to gain some form for the upcoming classics and he’d relish a day in the break.

Cyril Gautier – if a big break goes, AG2R will certainly want to be represented. Gautier is a true allrounder and would be a good option for them. With the team focused on Tony Gallopin, not many of their team will be allowed freedom to join the break.

Warren Barguil – after a stellar 2017, he’s talking about starting the season a little slowly. There were differing reports about his goals in this race, but he should be allowed a little freedom to make the morning move. Still a long way from peak condition, we’ll have to see what his legs are right.

Jay Thomson – made the break on Tuesday, but was rather disappointed to only have two other riders with him. The South African is looking to show his off his versatility and it would be great to see him in another break.

Imanol Erviti – looking for classics preparation.

Ben Swift – not really a sprinter anymore, he was very unlucky to lose out to Peter Kennaugh in the Dauphiné. If he makes the move, he’ll probably have the fastest sprint.

Romain Combaud – random French pick.

Pierre Rolland – classic breakaway pick number 1.

Pierre Luc Perichon – classic breakaway pick number 2.

Fabian Grellier – classic breakaway pick number 3.

Arnaud Démare – the sprinter with the best chance of hanging with the bunch. FDJ also have the option of staying beside their sprinter and then trying to make contact with the front of the race. It could happen, but unlikely in my opinion.

Prediction Time

Jelle Wallays to take another sensational breakaway victory.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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