Jul 7, 2014

Tour de France Stage 3 Review/Stage 4 Preview

Stage 3 Review

Stage winner: Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)
Another day another stage win for Marcel Kittel. He is starting to make this routine. Very routine. He is the fastest sprinter in the world right now and he has the best leadout train in the world right now. This is a deadly combination, especially with Mark Cavendish out of the race and Andre Greipel and Lotto-Belisol off the pace (more on them further below).

Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
An easy day for the Astana leader in the yellow jersey. Nibali finished in the main peloton and was unaffected by the late crash that took a few men in the group down inside of 3 km.

The only GC man to lose time was Pierre Rolland (Europcar), who used some energy and a flyer from 20km out yesterday and is tired from the Giro. He lost 1’05” and is now well back in the field and likely not a GC threat (though he could win a stage in the mountains).

Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Sagan held his position with ease today. Going forward this race is already down to only three men: Sagan with 117 points, Kittel (who doesn’t contest the sprint checkpoints preferring to save his energy for the stage finish) with 90 points and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) with 88 points. Everyone else is already 70+ points behind Sagan and most likely done in this competition.

King of the Mountains: Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis)
No climbs means it was a good day for Lemoine. He got to keep the jersey with minimal effort. Given the profile tomorrow, he will likely keep the jersey another day as he can get himself in the break or keep the jersey just by Biel Kadri (AG2R La Mondiale) or Jens Voigt (Trek Factory) not getting into the breakaway.

White Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to be worn by Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)
Sagan continues to hold this jersey and will continue to do so until either he crashes or we reach the type of climbs he cannot handle as he is going to be there at the end of every stage for some time going forward. In second place and wearing the jersey is Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). Bardet is an actual contender for this jersey (finished in the top 15 overall last year) as opposed to Sagan who, while a talented rider, is still just a place holder here.

Tactical Masterclass: Giant-Shimano
Just like stage one, Giant-Shimano waited and waited and kept Kittel hidden. Just like stage one, they came to the front at the perfect time. Just like stage one, Kittel was launched and there was nothing anyone else in the field could do. Perfect tactics and execution by the Giant-Shimano sprint train.

Tactical Blunder: Lotto-Belisol
Another day another lost opportunity. This is the second sprint stage where the Lotto-Belisol sprint train has so utterly failed that their sprinter (one of the top in the world in Andre Greipel) hasn’t bothered to contest the sprint. It appears Greipel’s time off from his injury earlier this season has harmed his leadout train more than he himself. Still, against someone with a team and individual skill like Kittel, the leadout train needs to be at least competent to compete. Greipel’s has not been.

Stage 4 - Le Touquet-Paris-Plage - Lille

Expectations entering the stage: Another sprint day and at this point, probably another Kittel win as all of the other contenders lack either the speed or the leadout train to deliver them in an advantageous position.

Jersey’s in play
  • Green Jersey - While Sagan is going to win this in the end, Kittel and CoQuard are close enough to take it if Sagan has a day like failed contender Andre Greipel had in both stages 1 and 3.
  • Polka Dot Jersey - Lemoine’s lead over Biel Kadri is only one point. With two category four climbs on the day, it would be easy for Lemoine to lose the jersey, especially if he misses out on the breakaway for the day.

GC items of note: Nothing at all. All will easily finish in the main field barring crashes. In others words, same as stage 3 just on French roads and not those in London.

Stage Pick: Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)
It is a near pan flat stage with no special obstacles. Pick against Kittel at your own risk.

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