Before starting betting on Stage 5 of the Tour de France, take a look at our extensive preview of it. Which riders will lead the pack, and how does this translate for sports bettors?
The first stage proper in France see them head south-west from Arras through the Pas de Calais region and on through the battlefields of the Somme on a day that we should see a battle among the sprinters. The area has lots of wide open fields though and with multiple changes of direction in the last 100kms, we could see echelons and splits again.
After leaving Arras they first head north-west on a dead-straight (must be Roman) road before heading north-east past the National Necropolis of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, then turn and head south-east past the Canadian war Memorial at Vimy, a memorial dedicated to Canadian military personnel killed during World War I. It took 11 years to build and is the centre-piece of a 100-hectare memorial park.
They carry on in a south-east direction through some very exposed, wide open roads and they will have a pretty strong head/cross-wind coming at them from the south-west so we could see some teams look to split it here again like EQS, Astana or T-S. After the intermediate sprint at Rancourt after 90kms they turn right and in to the head-wind just after Peronne and about 8kms later they turn north so it is now a tail/cross-wind coming at them from their right. Another change of direction at Combles after 120kms sees them hit with a cross/head-wind for about 20kms as they pass by the South-African National Memorialof Bois Delville and the Franco-British Memorial of Thiepva.
They then have a 30km stretch which could be the last chance for the teams looking to split it up as they have nearly 30kms heading south with a head/cross-wind coming from their right. With 20kms to go as they pass the Australian National Memorial they now are heading due east, straight in to a head-wind, so it'll be very hard for any stragglers to try to pull back a powerful lead group if they have snapped the elastic and caused splits.
Between 6km and 4km to go they have to go through 3 large roundabouts, but the rest of the route is pretty straightforward on good roads. The road rises a little from around 1500m to go and then there's a slight right hand bend with 480m to go but then it's straight, and slightly downhill to the line where we should see a very fast sprint.
This is going to be an interesting stage as there will probably be many who will be suffering badly after a pretty chaotic and brutal opening few stages. The cross-winds and chaos of stage 2, the crashes and splits of stage 3, the frantic action over the cobbles on stage 4. I would think plenty will be looking for a nice easy day here with a bit of action for the last 20kms to set up a sprint and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a bit of a truce called.
But the Tour is the Tour, and if the opportunity presents itself, there are sure to be those who will want to pile more pain on and look to blow things up in that strong cross-winds.
André Greipel easily disposed of Cavendish on Sunday after a total balls-up in the sprint by Etixx. Oh and Cav seemed to have no power left at the finish, although it didn't help that he had to start his sprint so far back. Greipel's team did a lot of work too but the difference was he was in a good position coming in to the last 400m, with Marcel Sieberg half leading him out, half protecting him from the wind coming from his right and he sitting on Cav's wheel. It was 1-0 to the Lotto boys on the day.
However, we then went in to stage 4 today and Cavendish was excellent - he pulled at the front like a boss for a while, he stayed with the main contenders right to the sprint finish. He might be tired after today, but then again, so will everyone else be. Confidence will be very high in the camp again as they have won the stage and aToned for the cock-up with Martin's yellow jersey on st2. They will be buzzing tomorrow after that win and I think there is no way they will make the same mistake in the leadout tomorrow, Cav has to be the strong favorite to land the stage.
André Greipel sprinted well as I said on 2 to take the victory, but today he really suffered out there and was blown out long before the finish. He was wrecked at the finish and not only that, his leadout train has been derailed. Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson are injured and won't be able to do much, Debuscherre is his new leadout man and he has never done it before (and he crashed a few days ago too). As strong as he looked Tuesday, I'm put off him for tomorrow.
NacerBouhanni's not too badly beaten up it seems and he did extremely well to even be with that group at the finish today, Cofidis rode a fine race. With another night of healing and good racing in his legs, BouBou could come close on a fast sprint like this. He just needs to make sure that he isn't left behind if any splits happen. He opened at 14/1 I think but that didn't last long and he is now best price 11/1 with Corals, and that's worth an each-way punt.
Peter Sagan rode very well on stage 2 to look after Contador primarily and then sprint to second place on the stage, only beaten by millimetres. He also rode well on stage 3 to the Huy, was pretty prominent until about half way up the climb until the gradient took its toll and he fell back. He could also have been saving something for today's stage though, as we saw, he was excellent today, looking after Contador all day, pulling back splits and then even getting up to sprint for '2nd' place on the sprint again. This flat downhill sprint mightn't be exactly to his liking though.
John Degenkob did sprint for points on stage 3 against Greipel, which shows he has ambitions on the Green, but also I think it was an opportunity to test his legs in a sprint, knowing he was not going to be anywhere near the front on the Mur. He couldn't touch Greipel though who comfortably held him a bike length back, with Bouhanni behind. But then today, he showed that in an uphill sprint, there are few that will beat him. This isn't uphill though and he might have to settle for 5th to 10th.
Arnaud Démare has been anonymous too so far in this race, 81st in the TT, 43rd in Stage 2, caught in the Nibali group, 150th on stage 3 some 11 minutes back and on stage 4 over the cobbles just today he was nowhere to be seen again. He was showing signs of coming to form in the Belgium Tour, with two wins and a 2nd out of the three sprints he contested, albeit against lesser sprinters, In the Tour de Suisse stage 7 he sprinted to 5th, beaten by the likes of Van Avermaet, Cimolai and Sagan. He could possibly feature today at a big price. Also FDJ had a shocker today with Pinot arguing with everyone around him and they could do with a shot in the arm to lift the spirits in the team.
Overall though, I think this should be a far more straightforward stage, hopefully the cross-winds don't cause too many problems - but if they do, you would think that Etixx will be heavily involved and possibly the ones doing the splitting. They will be in great spirits tomorrow and after ticking one box with getting Tony the Yellow Jersey, they will now be going after a stage win for Cav. Bouhanni and Démare could surprise, Démare has had a (relatively) easy few days, Bouhanni looked strong today.
2pts win on Mark Cavendish at 13/8 with Betfred
0.5pts each-way on NacerBouhanni at 11/1 with Coral
0.3pts each-way on Arnaud Démare at 33/1 with bet365