This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
This is a finely balanced stage where riders of different types will feel they have a chance. It rolls through the Provençal hills just inland from the coast. The climbs are not tough and not hard enough to stop the sprinters putting a cross next to this stage. They won't have many chances this year and will want to make the most of ones like this.
However, the baroudeurs, who love to spend hours in a small group at the front in the hope this could turn out to be the glorious day that makes such escapades worthwhile, will rate their prospects. The pace will be frantic from the start as riders attempt to get into that escape group. In all likelihood, the break will be reeled in before the day's final climb, which will bring the puncheurs up.
The Côte des Bastides and uncategorised Col de la Gineste, just 12.5km from the finish, are perfect territory for these explosive climbers, as they are tough enough to stretch the bunch but not long or difficult enough to enable specialist climbers to hold sway.
Barry Hoban: "I used to spend a lot of time on training camps in and around Cagnes-sur-Mer. The roads through to Marseille roll up and down but they're not hard enough to see the sprinters shaken out of the bunch. They do offer breakaways a good chance of going the distance, though."
Video: Tour de France stage 5 preview with Magnus Bäckstedt
Recent Tour history suggests a small break will go all of the way. In 2003, Denmark's Jakob Piil edged out Italian Fabio Sacchi after the pair had gone clear from a nine-man group. Four years later, Frenchman Cédric Vasseur led in a five-man group, just edging out compatriot Sandy Casar and Switzerland's Michael Albasini.
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