Stage five of the Tour de France sees the race’s first summit finish at La Planche des Belle Filles, with rival teams expecting an attack from Richie Porte (BMC Racing) after he looked strong on stage three.
Porte briefly opened a gap over his rivals on the short hill to Longwy, and could be on the move again on stage five as he looks to claw back some of the time he lost in the wet opening time trial in Düsseldorf.
“Yes, I certainly think so,” was the response of Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena when asked if he expected Porte to attack on the 20 per cent gradients of La Planche des Belle Filles.
“One of the best qualities of Richie was what we saw at the Tour Down Under. He can go deep in a short time and make a big gap because he has speed and he will be one of the guys who will attack. “
However Guercilena also said that it could be hard for Porte to attack if, as he expects, Team Sky take control of the race and set a high tempo on the climb.
Watch: Tour de France stage four highlights
Team Sky sports director Nicholas Portal certainly seems to be considering doing exactly that, saying that the team plans to Michal Kwiatkowski, Sergio Henao, Mikel Landa, and the yellow jersey of Geraint Thomas near the front to protect Chris Froome.
Asked whether he expected Porte to attack, Portal responded “yes, I think so”, going on to say that he expected all of the GC riders who lost time to Thomas and Froome in the opening time trial to consider making a move.
“All of the GC guys need to try something. If they don’t on La Planche des Belle Filles they need to try another day, on another summit finish or somewhere else. We saw yesterday [on stage three] that some of the guys just want to see how they are.”
As for BMC Racing themselves, the team seem confident that the climb, which averages 8.5 per cent for 5.9 kilometres but kicks up to more than 20 per cent for the final few hundred metres, could suit Porte.
“We’re ready to race,” said general manager Jim Ochowicz.
“It’s a good climb for Richie, it suits his style of racing well. He can go well on that sort of a climb and the 20 per cent grade at the top is something he likes to do . We’re optimistic that it’s going to be a good stage for us.”