Tour de France 2019: Stage 5 Preview

An early breakaway should get caught before the two last categorised climbs and 10K of flats to the finish.

Whit Yost |

Starting in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, Stage 5 cuts a big loop through the heart of the Vosges, a mountain range in eastern France known for short, steep climbs and treacherous descents. With four categorised climbs, including the first Category 2 ascents of the Tour, it’s not a good day for the sprinters.

The stage should begin with a breakaway filled with riders looking for a bit of TV time for their sponsors, as well as some seeking points in the King of the Mountains competition. KoM leader Tim Wellens is a good bet to go on the attack, trying to add to his lead in the hopes of wearing polka dots for at least another day.

But any remaining escapees should be caught before the day’s final two climbs: the Category 2 Côte des Trois Épis and the Category 3 Côte des Cinqs-Châteaux. It’s here where the race will reignite with attacks from riders hoping to win the stage. Don’t be surprised if overall leader Julian Alaphilippe goes on the attack himself. He’s not considered one of the Tour’s true threats and won’t get a strong reaction from teams like Ineos, Groupama–FDJ, or AG2R La Mondiale.

If a breakaway fails to emerge, expect a select group of overall contenders and perhaps a few of the more versatile sprinters to contest the finish. A good 10K of flat roads run between the bottom of the final descent and the finish line in Colmar, so we might see a bit of regrouping – especially if riders like Peter Sagan or Michael Matthews make it over the final climb in reach of whomever has escaped.

Riders to Watch

Stage 6 is another great opportunity for Alaphilippe, who could add to his lead on the General Classification with a second stage win. Other contenders include riders – Alejandro Valverde, Max Schachmann, and Matej Mohoric among them – who excel in April’s hilly Ardennes Classics.

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