Wednesday, 18 June 2014

2014 Tour de France Stages 4-7

Stage 4 - Le Tourquet Paris-Plage - Lille 163.5km

The Tour leaves Britain and re-enters France, only to enter Belgium, to then re-enter France. Stage 4 takes the peloton for a short stage from the port of Calais to Lille. The stage's first climb comes after 34km, the 4th Category Cote de Campagnette (1km at 6.5%) as the race enters the  Nord department of France the race has the feed station at 80km before the days intermediate sprint at kilometre 92. The last climb of the day comes 25km later, the Mont Noir (1.3km at 5.7km). The breakaway would likely make it first to both the climbs and the intermediate sprint. Then there is flatlands until the finish, where the break will be caught, as the sprinters teams' will come to the front of the peloton. This stage has the potential to fragment the field and for  if there are strong crosswinds. My pick for the day is for Mark Cavendish to win Stage 4.

Stage 5 Ypres- Arenberg Porte du Hainaut 156km

Stage 5 is when the race reaches the cobblestones of Northern France. The first of nine cobbles sections comes after 87km and lasts for 1100m. The days' intermediate sprint comes 10km later, here is where the sprinters' teams will last be at the front of the peloton. The next section of pavé comes a brief 5km after the sprint. The peloton will be a mess with sprinters' teams trying to move back and GC teams like Sky and Movistar trying to come to the front. There is then a slight rest between sections 8 and 7 as there is the feed station at 108km. The 1km stretch Section 7 comes at kilometre 110, with a 1.4km long cobbled section briefly following it. There is a 15km rest until Section 5, where some lost riders have the chance to rejoin the peloton. Section 5 may be the perfect springboard for an attack, with only 28km to go a puncher could exploit the weakness of a nervous peloton. Section 4 comes with only 24km to go but it is the second longest section of pavé at a length of 2400m. There is only a rest 1500m until section 3 where the 1400m of hell awaits what will be left of a fragmented race. The penultimate section of cobblestones comes with 15km to go and is the longest of all nine stretches of cobbles at a length of 3700m.  The final section is only a mile long but finishes with 5km to go. I can see large time gaps appearing to key General Classification riders. My pick for the day being Sep Vanmarcke.

Stage 6 Arras - Reims 194kmProfile

Stage 6 sees the peloton take the 194km journey from the department of Pal-De-Calais to the department of Marne. The Tour is in this part of France to pay respect to the Great War. The first of the days’ climbs comes at kilometre 107, the 900m long Côte de Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique at a gradient of just over 6%. The descent brings the intermediate sprint, just 12km after the climb. The final climb of the day, the Cóte de Roucy (1.5km at 6.2%), comes only 37km from the finish and could be a springboard for attacks. Then the stage has an undulating next 20km before a flat finish in Reims. I can see a breakaway winning the stage, so my pick for the day is Jens Voigt.

Stage 7 Épernay - Nancy 234.5kmProfile

The second longest stage of the race will see the riders face a very flat first 215km, before two categorised climbs in the last 17km. The days intermediate sprint comes with 86km to go and will probably be won by the days' break. The first climb of the day comes 17km from the finish; the 4th Category Cóte de Maron is 3.2km long at a gradient of 5%, topping of at a height of 399m it is the highest point of the stage. The final climb of the day could be the one that distances the sprinters from the peloton, the 1.3km long Cóte de Bofflers at 7% is also a 4th Category climb. The peloton will then have a very fast descent into Nancy with my pick for the day being Mark Cavendish to win the stage.

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