Stage 5 of the Tour de France sees the gloves come off proper as the peleton meanders through over 150km of gentle French countryside before blasting up the 1st category climb to La Planche des Belles Filles.
The 6km ascent is a steep average of 8.5% including a nasty kick of 20% just before the finish. It was this very climb in 2012 that announced the arrival of Chris Froome. He was riding for Bradley Wiggins that year (just !), and used the final steep slope to break away from the elite group and take the stage.
He is favourite to win here, and both Froome and Richie Porte may see this as a great chance to lay down an early marker before the big mountains later in the tour.
There is a risk of a breakaway, but with so many teams having climbers who may fancy their chances, it would be no surprise if it is all brought together by the final climb for the first big face-off of the race.
Whilst we put no-one off Froome, the value here probably lies in finding a climber good enough to lay up with the big names, unencumbered by team duties, and slight enough to be able to take advantage of that savage final few hundred metres.
Our overall each way pick Louis Meintjes is one such rider and if has illusions of the podium, as we believe he may, then this ascent may just be ideal. He may be given a fraction more rope than the much shorter priced Nairo Quintana.
Johan Esteban Chaves has made hay on similar stages in the Vuelta Espana in the past. He has been dealing with the tragic road accident death of his physio 2 days ago back home in Colombia, and riding on pure emotion it would be not surprise to see him put in a super-human all-or-nothing effort here by way of commemoration.
They offer two good chances to follow up our 33/1 each way place for Dan Martin on Monday.
Recommendations: Tour de France Stage 5 winner:
Johan Esteban Chavez, 1pt win, 40/1 Paddy Power
Louis Meintjes, 0.5pts each way, 50/1 Paddy Power
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