Preview. After the first battle in the mountains between Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard the sprinters have one more opportunity. Stage 5 of Paris-Nice is a tricky day with a hilly start but with a finale that should suit the fast men.
The fifth stage of the race is one very suited to a breakaway. It'll be an interesting mix of breakaway action, classics riders possibly attacking and the sprinter teams trying to keep it all together. The finale will be in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and it comes after a couple of hilltops. The start of the stage features several small ascents with 1.5Km at 8.6% right at the start, followed by 5.2Km at 4.4% and 2.4Km at 5.8%, with steep descents inbetween.
Start Time: 11.35CET
Finish Time: 16:40CET
Paris-Nice: Tadej Pogacar wins stage 4, takes yellow jersey and puts serious time into Jonas Vingegaard
A long flat section then follows where the race will consolidate. There will be two small ascents again towards the end of the 213 kilometers. They are 3.6Km at 4.7% and 4.6Km at 4.8%, summiting with 54 and 32 kilometers to go. They aren't too hard but under the right circumstances could distance some riders.
Then after a descent it's full speed ahead to the finale. It's a straightforward finale however there are roundabouts with 1 kilometers to go and then another one with 400 meters to go. Perhaps not too sharp, but they can make a difference towards the end if it comes down to a sprint.
The weather improves at last. No meaningful wind present, the temperatures will be higher and the sun will come out.
Profiles & Route Paris-Nice 2023
Tim Merlier - The climbs will not be to his favour. Merlier is likely the fastest pure sprinter, but he needs to have a leadout set to go for the win, the last sprint didn't work out for him and here it will be a more complicated day for the Belgian champion.
Olav Kooij - Kooij has so far been very constant, and he absolutely has the speed. Not having a set leadout hasn't seemed to be an issue for the Dutchman, he will most certainly be smelling a victory once again.
Michael Matthews - Matthews doesn't have the speed to be within a shot of winning a bunch sprint with this competition, but he has been looking sharp. He wants the points classification, and Jayco are the team I would expect the most to see push the pace in the ascents. They may try to get an alliance to drop some of the other sprinters.
Sam Bennett - Alongside Quick-Step BORA will likely try to control things to have a calm day before the final kilometers. In a pure sprint they can take a win, they have a strong leadout and Sam Bennett does have some speed in the legs.
The day features some climbing which will match some riders' likings. It shouldn't be crucial, but if the pace is pushed the likes of Arnaud De Lie, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Bryan Coquard and Ivan Garcia Cortina could benefit.
However with the weather more calm and there being a big lot of very fast sprinters at the top, that won't be very likely to see. Merlier, Kooij and Bennett may have to battle to keep up however. Alexander Kristoff and Arnaud Démare will form part of a very experienced front, riders who are currently in need of a win, specially the latter as he loses influence within Groupama - FDJ.
Kaden Groves, Cees Bol and Dan McLay should also be present in the sprint, will be outsiders if it all comes back together and may have an opportunity.
The start will also surely lure in some breakaway specialists, this isn't a bad day for an attempt to go up the road. Fred Wright, Stan Dewulf, Stefan Bissegger, Clément Champoussin, Thomas de Gendt, Anthony Turgis, Soren Kragh Andersen and Javier Romo are among the most likely to succeed if it were to happen.
Prediction Paris-Nice 2023 stage 5:
*** Tim Merlier, Olav Kooij, Mads Pedersen
** Sam Bennett, Arnaud De Lie
* Magnus Cort Nielsen, Bryan Coquard, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Kaden Groves, Arnaud Démare, Cees Bol
Pick: Olav Kooj
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