A long dull Stage 3 of the Tour de France looks likely to explode in the last 20km as a benign course kicks up with a trio of short sharp shocks.
With sprinters who can climb, climbers who can sprint, and pure all-rounders all likely to fancy their chances expect any breaks to be well policed.
The steepness of some of the kicks may break up the field, and the short gap between climbs may not help the peloton reform.
Expect an elite group of 50 or so to emerge, from which a handful are likely to contest the final uphill sprint.
This should be enough to see off the sprinters who can climb – Matthews, Colbrelli and plays more to climbers who can sprint.
With a big GC stage just around the corner, the likes of Dan Martin and Alejandro Valverde may just keep their powder dry, and this looks one for the trip of Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet and Julian Alaphilippe.
We have opposed last year’s King of the Mountains, Alaphilippe in this year’s polka dot market on the grounds he could be marked by the peloton as a yellow jersey contender. That is built on part on expectation that this tailor made Stage could see him donning the Maillot Jaune at an early stage.
Expect him to send the home crowds wild and set up a major GC bid starting here.
Stage 3: Julian Alaphilippe, 1pt win, 7/2 generally available
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