Tour de France 2019: Stage 3 Preview

A series of Category 3 climbs should make for an interesting finish.

Whit Yost |

Last year’s Tour de France faced criticism for a boring first week where most stages ended in field sprints. Organisers sought to change that this year, and they started in earnest with the course on Stage 3.

Heading south from the Belgian town of Binche, Stage 3 brings the Tour across the border into France. The first 170K should go rather smoothly, with a breakaway filled with riders from wildcard teams given a chance to show off their sponsors as the race heads into its host country.

But things will get interesting with about 30K to go, as a series of three Category 3 climbs looks certain to animate the finale. By now the breakaway will either be caught or struggling, just as those riders hoping to win the stage will emerge.

The tipping point should come on the Category 3 Côte de Mutigny 16K from the finish. Short and steep, it’s the perfect launchpad for an elite group of riders to escape. They’ll crest the uncategorised Côte de Mont Bernon with about 4K to go, followed by a quick descent and an uphill drag to the finish line in Épernay.

Riders to Watch

The finale is built for a rider who can handle the climbs, make or cover attacks, and win an uphill sprint from a select group of favorites. In other words, it’s an ideal stage for Peter Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe, Michael Matthews, and Greg Van Avermaet.

As for the yellow jersey, don’t expect it to change hands. While Mike Teunissen took a surprise win on Stage 1, he should do fine on Stage 3 – especially with a 31-second advantage over Alaphilippe, the closest of the pre-stage favorites on the General Classification. If Teunissen does lose his lead, it could go to Wout Van Aert, his Jumbo–Visma teammate who sits second overall, only 10 seconds back.

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