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03 Jul 17 05:53
Date Joined: 11 Jul 11
| Topic/replies: 5,589 | Blogger: SwingingPick's blog
Hilly course (the race goes through BEL and LUX before entering FRA), with five catgorized climbs interspersed throughout the 200+km class distance. This is a similar stage to stage 5 into Le Lioran over a similar distance last year, however this stage is much easier toward the end, with less amount of climbs, and the finale climb is also easier.

Last year, it was GVA who initially came out of a 9-man long-range breakaway with De Gendt and Grivko. GVA then attacked De Gendt on the penultimate steep cat.2 some 15kms from the finish, to win in fine fashion. I remember how he and De Gendt entered into a Belgian alliance and struck out together with an awfully-long way still to-go, only joined on their 100km journey by Grivko making it a three-man break, however Grivko was not of the same class as the two Belgians and ended up finishing behind the peloton once his legs packed-up. GVA moved into the Yellow Jersey after that stage, btw.

I think if the peloton is still together by the finale (which is a cat.3 of 1.6kms @ 5.8%) then Sagan can be considered as a valid favourite, however with Gilbert's birthday in the next two days and him being a son of this Wallonian region the race takes in, I would expect him to be involved heavily. Looks too hard for the sprinters and the puncheurs would enjoy a bit more sting in the gradient, nevertheless I agree with the Books on a mix of versatile sprinters and fast puncheurs.
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Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 9:09 AM BST
After working on the front for nearly the entire stage yesterday, De Gendt was essentially confirming his condition to DS on a tilt for the KOM competition, so I would expect him to be involved in the breakaway today since the first climb (and the associated KOM points) comes within  the first 20kms. At 150/1 E/W best with the Books he could be worth some ante-post interest, however he is bigger on here at 170/1. Majka might be involved in the first moves to claim the KOM points in reserve for his Plan B, however I would expect him to drop back soon after (and therefore drop out of the breakaway which will likely form as a result) since he is right in the mix for a podium (on the Virtual GC standings) and clearly that would be his focus now. Any of the other main contenders in the market for the KOM competition might likely be found in the breakaway today, but it is a bit of a lottery at ante-post, so might be better to assess the situation closer to the start or IR.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 2:13 PM BST
Some tension building in the peloton, and the fact that they have hardly permitted the gap to the breakaway from getting out beyond 2mins all day, along with the fact that BOH and SUN and QST are threading riders into the line on the front -- would suggest that this break is going nowhere, and are unlikely to fight it out for stage honours.

De Gendt was on the front at the start attempting to get into the break, but when he missed his opportunity it looks like teammate Hansen went out to get into the break -- working hard to do so -- in order to neutralise the KOM points for him. Just wasn't De Gendt's day to get into the break, it happens, the fact he tried is somewhat reassuring.

These in the break are not really the KOM contenders I would have expected in the break today. In any case, I think unless we see a short-range breakaway attempt, perhaps on the cat.4 some 15kms from the finish -- which I think is unlikely, only because it is too easy -- it will come down to a splintering bunch sprint, in very-much a classics-style finish amongst the versatile sprinters and to a lesser extent the puncheurs.

Sagan Was involved in the fast bunch sprint yesterday, and is suited over this finale much more. Had two wins in his last start Suisse ride, and looks in very good form. Likely to be involved in this for a long way as he'll assert his authority over his rivals. Opened up at 11/4 and has not really shortened much, which is surprising. Deserving favourite. Class rider. Go close.
Gilbert Racing over home roads and the finale suits, however his form has fallen away since the Ardennes in April. Nevertheless, with his birthday in two days time, he'll want the early present of a stage win. Hard to discount. Take on trust.
GVA BMC are not really contributing, but this finale has his name written all over it, and he will be permitted free reign to go for it if experiencing good sensations. Form is in question, though. Opened at 9/1 and has been matched at 11/1 on here. Presently 10s. Class rider who needs to lift. Worth of some consideration.
Bling Another of the versatile sprinters who should be suited over the finale. Patchy form, but with SUN on the front he will be going for this today. Needs a win for the team, so expect him to go deep. Whether that will be good enough is difficult to say. Opened at 9/2 and has drifted out into 8s on here, so exceptional value, imo. I'm not a big fan, but likely to be involved for a long way. Take on trust.
Trentin The QST workhorse who has always been working for other more noted riders in the team, looks like he finally gets his chance on this stage as repayment for his services during the season. Expecting a big ride from him today, actually. Not in standout form, but always a natural fit for such classics-style finales. Opened at 25/1 with the Books, and can be found in the 30s on here. Value. Interesting proposition. Consider closely.
Swift Could be a little too hard for him, but that recent Alpe d'Huez ride in the Dauphine was really impressive, and he comes into the race in very good condition. Opened at 25/1 with the Books and can be found on here in bits-and-pieces at double that, so good value. Could surprise with a big ride. Treat warily.

Good luck to all,
Report bb66 July 3, 2017 3:15 PM BST
I would add Stybar - his bike handling skills might favour him over team mate Gilbert on the tight inroads of the last climb, Ulissi or even Kwiatkowski (if he's allowed to go for his own).
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 3:26 PM BST
I was just looking at Stybar, he fits even better than Trentin actually, and news from the team have him interested, also. Opened at 33/1 and shorter than on here, so finding good support. Ulissi has an injury question over him from stage 2, I believe, so I wouldn't go there. Kwiatkowski, I wouldn't dissuade anyone from backing, however he seems to prefer more faster sprints than these lactic-busting ones. Vuillermoz is one who would also probably require it to be steeper, he won on the Mur-de-Bretagne in 2015 edition of the Tour, which was a  longer and steeper climb. I don't think we'll get that here.

De Gendt on the move with Calmejane and one other.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 3:32 PM BST
Perichon was the other one. De Gendt wants to get away from most of these in the break now, however his impetus has shaken up the break and they are not really combining anymore -- more hostile environment after he hurt them. Expect more attacks from De Gendt. Small gap, but increasing.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 3:34 PM BST
De Gendt has cracked them, I think.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 3:35 PM BST
No, Hardy has made it back across. They're clear and combining well.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 3:45 PM BST
It's a lively break, after a sneaky attack, but the gap is still small albeit increasing, however the peloton have announced their intentions for this stage from the start, the gap never really increasing beyond 2mins, so nothing has really changed, except that the breakaway is of a better quality with De Gendt involved and they are fresher than the original break which went out the back, except for Hardy who will be riding for Perichon, now. Calmejane is only 24yo, however he is an interesting rider, he won that summit finish stage in the Vuelta last year.

I still think it is with the peloton, but this bit of road is critical. Break pulling, peloton pulling.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:04 PM BST
Cat.4 coming up -- this could become chaos! Still with the peloton, fortunes improving for a splintering bunch sprint.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:05 PM BST
Hardy cracks -- fair enough! But De Gendt!? WTF?
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:06 PM BST
Calmejane shows his strength, but it will be near impossible for him, I believe.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:15 PM BST
Splintering bunch sprint coming up -- it's classics season in summer.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:22 PM BST
...BMC now come to the front after doing nothing all day. Lol.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:24 PM BST
GVA at 10s on here with only 8kms to-go is too big a price at this point.
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:35 PM BST
Sagan gets it! Thrilling finish!
Report bb66 July 3, 2017 4:41 PM BST
winning despite losing a foot out of the pedal, what would he have done without troubles? Just short of Yellow, his gap on Thomas would have been even bigger
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:51 PM BST
I was just thinking that mate, it might have been a very easy win if not for him pulling his foot out like that. BMC really animated the steep section and an excellent ride by Porte, I thought. Dan Martin was the only one involved for QST, and the only puncheur, the other three were the versatile sprinters expected to figure in the finish. It was a nice finish, lots of excitement. I actually thought G might have been involved, and he wasn't far away, and also a good ride by Demare.

What did you think about Bertie behaving so belligerently to set out after Porte like that?
Report SwingingPick July 3, 2017 4:51 PM BST
What's with the goggles?
Report bb66 July 3, 2017 5:12 PM BST
Skip that about Yellow, I thought he was 18" down only
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