Tour de France 2013: Stage 5 preview

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Tour de France 2013 stage five
Wednesday, July 3
From Cagnes-sur-Mer
Distance 228.5km
Stage type Hilly

Yellow jersey 1/5
Green jersey 5/5
Polka-dot jersey 0/5

The Tour heads west through Provence, from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille. Cagnes-sur-Mer was the home of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted soft-focus nudes like the ones some cyclists look at in the evening at their hotel, slowing down the wifi for everybody else. The stage finishes in Marseille, which is kind of like Birmingham, only much, much warmer.

After the hectic sprint, mountains, hills and team time trial of the first four days, finally we have a stage resembling normality for the first week of the Tour. It’s a largely flat run east to west through Provence, with little to trouble the riders in the way of tough terrain.

The only hazard is the wind – in July, Provence is the windiest part of France, and if the Mistral blows briskly from the north, it has the potential to cause chaos and blow the race to pieces.

After only one flat road stage so far, the sprinters will enjoy this rare first-week opportunity to bag a win. There will be a break of five riders, and we’re almost certain that the teams involved will be FDJ, Vacansoleil, Ag2r, Cofidis and Euskaltel. Their lead will go out to about six and a half minutes, and they’ll be caught with between four and six kilometres left. Then Mark Cavendish is going to win.

Who dares say that the Tour de France is ever predictable? It might not be as straightforward as that if the wind blows. The history of the Tour is littered with instances of teams noticing a corner or change in direction in the road, working out how the changed relative angle of the wind will affect the dynamics of the peloton, and splitting the race into echelons. It happened as recently as 2009, when Mark Cavendish won the stage to La Grande Motte, which started in Marseille.

Related links

Tour de France 2013: Coverage index