Le Tour de France on Ten Pounds — Stage 5

I knew it was over the moment he sat up…

Yes, when the white-clad Andre Greipel, yesterday’s tip, sat up as most everyone else was starting to contest the sprint I knew nothing good would come of my latest incursion into trying to pick the stage winner. Greipel didn’t make the top 10 on the day, let alone the top 3 he’d have needed to be in to earn me a return on my ‘investment’, which was disappointing, but I guess from his actions he just knew he didn’t have it in his legs and eased off, watching as countryman Marcel Kittel, who had moved out to 8/1 for the stage, duly pipped Bryan Coquard by 2/1000ths of a second. After almost five and a half hours in the saddle, that’s how small the margins are.

So, onto stage 5, from Limoges to Le Lioran…

The profile for the day’s stage features the first ascent of anything above a Category 3 climb, with a Category 4 climb, 3 Category 3 climbs and 2 Category 2 climbs. The first of those Category 2 ascents, the Pas de Peyrol in Auvergne, is the highest mountain pass in the Massif Central, and the lumpy and bumpy profile, ending with a 2.5km descent into Le Lioran from the Col de Font de Cere, looks tailor-made for a breakaway. It depends on who is in that breakaway as to whether the peloton will chase it, but even then they will need to be watchful. Back in 2006, Oscar Pereiro won the Tour de France by getting involved in a breakaway that gained him almost 30 minutes and propelled him to a second place finish overall, one that was elevated to a maillot jaune when winner Floyd Landis was stripped of the yellow jersey when dope testers identified unusually high testosterone to epitestosterone levels in his samples.

OK, history lesson over. Who might look to take advantage today? The odds offered this morning are:

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx Quick-Step) 5/1

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 6/1

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 8/1

Dan Martin (Etixx Quick-Step) 10/1

Michael Matthews (Orica Bike Exchange) 18/1

Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) 20/1

Wilco Kelderman (Lotto-NL Jumbo) 22/1

Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data) 22/1

To be frank, stages such as today are something of a lottery. With two riders like Alaphilippe, a rising star, and Martin, it’s possible that Etixx Quick-Step may look to try and capture a stage win, especially as neither rider is a genuine yellow jersey contender, not to me anyway. Provided Nairo Quintana isn’t troubled, Movistar may release Valverde to create some havoc, whilst Brit Steve Cummings is showing himself to be something of a breakaway specialist these days and is in the form of his career.

I’m going to steer clear of picking a winner, as with just £3.88 left I need funds more than I need anything else, so instead I’ve gone for a winning margin on the stage of 2 seconds or more at 7/4. It looks the kind of stage where a rider might solo to victory, particularly if they’re a good descender, and I can visualise a rider crossing the line as the chasing group make vain efforts to catch him.

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