After some benign sprint focussed stages that have allowed us to take the pulse of this year’s race, things warm up as we head into the “classics” week before the Alps arrive.
Classics refer to the mixed terrain one-day races that pepper the early season, and this year’s Tour pays homage with a series of such stages beginning with today’s Stage 5 to Quimper.
Starting flat, it finishes over a series of small climbs and up a gentle incline to the line. Enough big teams have Classic style contenders to manage any breakaway risk and this will probably be a small bunch finish.
Peter Sagan is warm favourite and rightly so as this looks designed for him, but enough can go wrong in cycling to be nervous about 2/1 or shorter.
Michael Matthews and Greg Van Avermaet are two other obvious names but still short enough with GVA likely to be well marked in the yellow jersey.
We’ll take a few more risks today and split a point each way. Alejandro Valverde’s days as a main contender are drifting away but he retains a useful combination of top level climbing skills and a good closing dig on a stiff finish. He may have eyes on Stage 6, but he’s an opportunist and could go close if they race hard enough on the climbs to trouble the fast men.
Andrea Pasqualon is an emerging Italian talent who has three top 10 finishes in the three sprints so far. He is not as pure a sprinter as Gavrivia or Kittel so may get over some of the bumps today. He will do well to live with Sagan and co, but he is priced accordingly, and in the form of his life, warrants a little each way flutter.
To Win Stage 5 Of the Tour De France:
A. Valverde, 0.75pts each way, 16/1, Bet365
A. Pasqualon, 0.25pts each way, 80/1 generally available
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