The Tour returns to Chartres, where the Thomas Voeckler legend began in 2004. What's in store there in this year's race? Let's check it out and find some value picks.
<p>In 2004, Stuart O’Grady won a sprint from a break over a very similar course. But in that break was Thomas Voeckler, who suddenly had a lead of almost 10 minutes in the General Classement and it brought great excitement for the French for the rest of the Tour as they held out hope their new hero could hang in there. It wasn’t to be, of course, despite a valiant attempt, as Lance Armstrong took control late in the race.</p><p> </p><h2>The Route</h2><p>This is a rolling route that passes through the Parc Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine on the way, going over lots of little lumps and bumps on the way. It's a long stage at 231 kilometres, but the B Bonus sprint comes just 30kms from the line, so we might see the sprinters teams look to try to bring back the break before that point, if the lead is close enough.</p><p>There is a sharp right-hander on a roundabout with 1700 metres to go, then they descend down to the 1km to-go mark, so the speed is going to be furious hitting the last kilometre. The road then flattens out for 500m, before rising up to the line in an uphill finish, nothing too difficult, but still around 3.5%.</p><p><img alt src="https://images-production-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5b47b018aa35fe00adec3d69/original-tour-route" style="width:533px;height:481px" /></p><p> </p><h2>Analysis</h2><p>Could this finally be a day we see a break make it? It's the longest stage of the race at 231kms, so whoever does go on the break here will need to be prepared for a long day out front. But with so many of the fancies sprinters still not with a win, there should be lots of teams like Katusha, Dimension Data, FDJ, LottoNL, Lotto Soudal and UAE willing to chase to try to set up their men for the win.</p><p>Fernando Gaviria has obviously shown he's the fastest so far, but that's thanks to his amazing team and leadout too. Max Richeze in particular has been superb, if he does what he usually does, Gaviria will fancy himself again for this one and is understandably the clear favourite.</p><p>Peter Sagan has two stage wins and two seconds already, out-muscling the opposition on each occasion. Only Gaviria has been able to get the better of him so far in the sprints, and his Bora team have been superb in protecting him and keeping him where he needs to be to be able to pounce at the end. He struggled Thursday on the climb to the finish -- I say struggled, he only finished 8th -- but most people expected him to be top 3 at worst. Is he tiring?</p><p>Sonny Colbrelli has run Sagan close twice, both on the uphill finishes. He has the power and has been able to position himself well. Is it finally the day he can get his nose in front? The uphill finish will suit him more than some of the other sprinters. He is sure to go close again, but he disappointed Thursday, coming home 2 minutes down.</p><p>Andre Greipel was unfancied for Stage 4, but he managed a fine 3rd place, not far off at all. On Stage 2 he had started too late and finished 4th, on Stage 4 he admitted after he started too soon, but came very close. If he can time it right, coming off of Sagan's wheel late, he could have the speed to do Sagan. Whether that will be fast enough to beat Gaviria too is the question.</p><p>Dylan Groenewegen seemed to be nowhere on Stage 4 again, with no team around him at the finish, yet he still finished 4th. Is he finding his legs? Will he finally get it right and show that he is, as we thought he was, the fastest sprinter in the race? Hard to know, but he is getting closer. His team had a really hard day Thursday after getting caught in the splits.</p><p>Marcel Kittel’s sprint was a very strange one on Stage 4 again. He seemed to do all he could to not get involved. He was floating about 10 riders back, looking up, looking down, diving left, diving right. By the time he got out it was too late, and although he finished very fast, he didn't make the podium again, having to settle for 4th.</p><p>Alexander Kristoff has been close, but not close enough. Same goes for John Degenkolb. Someone in the Trek squad told me Degenkolb is "only at 95% at the moment" -- 95% will not win you this sprint. Timothy Dupont, Andrea Pasqualon, Dion Smith,Thomas Boudat will be fighting it out for the 5th to 10th sorts of places.</p><p>So another sprint, <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/" title="Free Sports Picks">another win for Gaviria is the most likely outcome</a>, that QSF will just guide him through the last 2kms and deliver him to the last 300m at the front of the pack. But there are a queue of guys who are starting to click behind him and deserve a bit of luck, Griepel, Groenewegen and Kittel could play a part. And of course Sagan will be there. I’m going to serve Groenewegen I think because of the stressful day they had Thursday, and <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/" title="Sports Betting Odds">it might be that we finally see Kittel arrive at a very big price</a> for a man of his abilities.</p><p> </p><h2>Selections</h2><p>1pt e/w on Marcel Kittel at +$700 with <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4581&book=Bet365" rel="nofollow" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">Bet365</a>.</p><h2>Matchbets</h2><p>Colbrelli to beat Cort Neilsen; Gaviria to beat Sagan; and Degenkolb to beat Arndt – 2pts at +$267.</p>