Stage 5 preview

Sprinters’ paradise

Another stage with ‘sprint’ written all over it. There are two 4th-category climbs heading south-west from the Champagne centre of Épernay, but little to trouble the sprinters and their teams heading into Montargis. Expect the traditional first week formula of ‘breakaway + chase = sprint’ to apply. The last time the Tour headed into Montargis the fastmen held sway, as Belgian-based Australian Robbie McEwen romped to victory in 2005.

Procycling’s favourite to win:

One of the most intriguing contests heading into this year’s Tour is the battle of wills between Columbia sprinters Mark Cavendish and André Greipel. Clearly the two fastest finishers currently on the scene, HTC boss Bob Stapleton’s dilemma is whether to select them both and how to accommodate them if he does. Cavendish has been disparaging about the German’s talent as a sprinter, but Greipel’s been HTC’s main source of wins earlier this season but he then suffered a disastrous collapse of form at the Giro. The pair worked well together at that race in 2008, but Greipel was a real team player then. Now the German wants his own opportunity at the Tour. Can Bob reconcile them?

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