The intricacies of a sprint finish were never more apparent than in the finale of Stage 3 yesterday when Sam Bennett went into a crushing headwind 250m out only to be comfortably caught and passed by the impressive winner Caleb Ewan with 20 metres to go.
So we move on to the first climbing stage of the tour with nearly 3,000 metres of vertical as the peloton set off from the foot of the Alps.
Several small climbs in the middle of stage precede a tough finish with a 7km Category 1 climb to finish which will make for the first scenes of a GC battle. Whether that battle will decide the stage winner is far from certain. There will undoubtedly be a large cohort of stage hunters who will try and establish a breakaway and we cannot see the motivation for the GC teams to keep this in check at this early stage of the tour.
So we see the winner coming from the breakaway lottery on Stage 4. We can whittle away several riders who may not have the legs for this finish or may have team duties to focus on leaving us with several blog favourites.
Thomas DeGendt appealed at the early prices of circa 40/1 but there is a big question mark over his form this time around and whether losing over 20 minutes in benign stages was part of the plan or due to questionable form makes us swerve the gutsy Belgian.
Instead we’ll row in behind Omar Fraile who is far enough down the GC to not be considered a threat. Fraile thrives in the mountains and claimed the King of the Mountains earlier in the year at the Veulta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia to show he still has the form.
The Astana rider has claimed a victory on each of the grand tours and todays profile looks tailor made for the rangy Santzurtzi native.
Another of interest is Alessandro DeMarchi with the Italian always a threat on these type of finishes. The Italian is never shy of getting involved in a breakaway and he should feature prominently provided he gets up the road with the days move.
Another rider we considered was Kenny Elissonde at 400/1 but we are not sure the final climb is quite testing enough.
We’ll get GC action today but it may be a few minutes behind the stage winner in what promises to be the most telling stage of the Tour so far.
Omar Fraile to win stage 4 of Tour De France, 0.5pts each way, 100/1
Alessandro DeMarchi to win Stage 4 of TdF, 1pt win, 33/1
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