Stage 5: Saint-Die-Des-Vosges - Colmar
Date: July 10, 2019
Stage type: Hilly
This mountains-heavy Tour gets a little more serious with this beautifully balanced stage that, although unlikely to tempt the big hitters to centre stage, should produce plenty of action as it tickles the edge of the Vosges massif. This is the first day when breakaway specialists such as Thomas De Gendt may be tempted onto the attack, with the mountains jersey a potential prize even if their escape doesn't survive until the picturesque finish town of Colmar.
Eyeing their roadbooks on the eve of this stage, De Gendt and his fellow baroudeurs will appreciate its opening half, which follows lumpy roads eastwards towards the mountains. They should also be spurred on by its very final section, where two significant ascents that should ensure the sprinters won’t enter the picture and will therefore place the burden of chasing on the teams of puncheurs such as Julian Alaphilippe and Michael Matthews.
The rollercoaster run into Colmar begins with the second-category ascent to the spectacular, medieval Haut Koenigsbourg castle. The close combination of the second-cat Côte des Trois-Épis and the third-cat Côte des Cinq Châteaux will have more of a winnowing effect, leaving the hilly Classics specialists in the peloton's vanguard with the GC contenders tracking them closely, but holding resources back until the far tougher stage through the Vosges to the summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles tomorrow.
Coming off the last climb, the breakaway, if it's still clear, or the lead group will have 10 kilometres to cover into the finish. This flat section could allow other riders to bridge up to the front, including those fast finishers who can acquit themselves well on climbs of this length – the likes of Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet, for instance. In short, it's one of those rare Tour stages that almost any type of rider could win.