PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 5 - First high mountain stage with Pogacar and Vingegaard as main favourites

Preview. The Tour de France enters the Pyrenees. Stage 5 is the first of many high mountain days in this year's Tour de France, and it features plenty climbs where Adam Yates will have a challenge maintaining the yellow jersey against Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard.

Stage 5 of the Tour de France from Pau to Lauruns will be the first high mountain day, in the Pyrenees. The Tour has opted for a different formula this year, a route for the pure climbers. Stages 5 and 6 will be a tough challenge with real mountains. As is always the case at the Tour, the start of a Pyrenean stage is flat, coming from the city of Pau which never misses the race.

Estimated start and finish times for Tour de France stage 5: 13:05-17:20CET

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 5 - First high mountain stage with Pogacar and Vingegaard as main favourites
Stage 5: Pau - Lauruns, 163.8 kilometers

Whilst usually the first mountain stage at the Tour is blocked, it should not be the case here, as the stage will feature the tough Col de Soudet (15.1Km; 7.2%). A very hard climb, it summits with 76 kilometers to go, the pace won't likely be pushed too much but nevertheless, with this toughness the peloton could lose a few riders.

After a long descent the riders find the Col d'Ichère as a transition, it's 4.2 kilometers long at 6.2% and will summit with 38.5 kilometers to go. A small - but technical - descent will lead into the Col de Marie Blanque.

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 5 - First high mountain stage with Pogacar and Vingegaard as main favourites
Col de Soudet: 15.2Km; 7%; 76Km to go

This is the same finale as in 2020. The Col de Marie Blanque is a climb of two halves, very constant and a progressive rise of gradients. The final 4.8 kilometers average 10.5%, with only one hairpin. The first day in the mountains of a Grand Tour are usually very conservative, but on a climb like this differences can be made. The ramps are brutal, it's not a climb for big accelerations, but a tough pace will decimate the group.

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 5 - First high mountain stage with Pogacar and Vingegaard as main favourites
Col de Marie Blanque: 7.6Km; 8.6%; 18.5Km to go

The climb ends with 18.5 kilometers to go, and the descent will be quite technical, 11.5 kilometers long. Then the final 7 kilometers will be flat, there is time to close gaps, unlikely that gaps can be opened with serious damage, but as was the case in 2020 where Tadej Pogacar won his first Tour stage, it could be decided in a small group sprint.

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 5 - First high mountain stage with Pogacar and Vingegaard as main favourites

The Weather

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 5 - First high mountain stage with Pogacar and Vingegaard as main favourites
Map Tour de France 2023 stage 5

Cool temperatures and a northern breeze. Covered in the climbs, however if anything it will see a tailwind in the final kilometers which will help those looking to make a difference on the day.

The Favourites

Tadej Pogacar - Pogacar will certainly attack. If Jaizkibel showed anything it's that the roads don't have to be too hard to attack, and UAE in the lead will certainly again push all day long to chase a stage win. Sometimes it feels they burn too much, but with both Majka and Yates setting him up at Marie Blanque, big gaps can be cut to a breakaway. Will he be able to drop Vingegaard? I wouldn't bet on that, but surely he will try once again, and if anything, the stage win is surely up for grabs.

Adam Yates - Don't be mistaken, UAE is working for Pogacar. Yates is in yellow and in a great place at the time being, but he's a second card for the team. It's not an explosive stage and he's not an explosive rider, gapping Vingegaard again will be very hard as he will be watchful. If UAE race rather conservatively he could have a role in the final kilometers to attack and try to form an alliance, there he could prove quite useful as he is displaying incredible form.

Jonas Vingegaard - Vingegaard has raced the opening weekend conservatively and here I expect the same. It wasn't just for van Aert, no, Vingegaard knows that in any scenario Pogacar will outsprint him, which means bonification loss if they are fighting for the stage. But most importantly, by attacking and not dropping Vingegaard, Pogacar is having little motivation hits, and the Dane knows that, so he doesn't allow Pogacar to get any gains from those attacks. Yates or Pogacar in yellow, it makes no difference for Vingegaard as UAE will work both ways, he will continue to be on the defense and wait for the longer ascents to try and make a difference, he doesn't have to worry about the rest as the level difference should be very large.

In all reality, between the GC guys it's those three, who have so far looked a level above the rest. Simon Yates on both hilly days looked quite good, but he is one of many who will now see what is his real place in the GC battle. Marie Blanque is a climb to be ridden by pace, don't expect attacks from anyone else, but instead pace and survival. Afterwards a stage could perhaps be on display, but all the GC riders will be trying not to lose time. Fit in Mattias Skjelmose, Jai Hindley, Mikel Landa, Michael Woods, Romain Bardet, David Gaudu, Carlos Rodríguez, and who knows maybe Victor Lafay could again be up there...

What can however happen is a breakaway taking the win. Now, UAE has the habit of chasing unreasonably hard, which is ultimately bad for their three-week ambitions, but in the short term may lead to a stage win. I can see that happen tomorrow, if so a break will struggle to work, but it stands good chances. Think back to the Giro d'Italia, virtually every year the first mountain stage sees a breakaway win, specially when it's not a summit finish. This is the Tour de France, many quality climbers came over with goal of winning a stage and they know this is a good day for that.

Giulio Ciccone, Ion Izagirre and Alexey Lutsenko are examples of riders who came with those ambitions and will have good freedom already. However the very hard start to the race has already seen many others emerge. Neilson Powless will certainly try to be there and defend his KOM jersey, the likes of Thibaut Pinot and Tobias Johannessen may have dreamed to fight for the GC but at this point of the race have lost time and will likely focus on stage wins.

Then you've got a little group of riders who could have had task of supporting GC leaders but no longer. Esteban Chaves and Rigoberto Urán of EF now have that as the main goal, whilst Movistar has the talented climbers Ruben Guerreiro and Matteo Jorgenson. AG2R could be said to not have the need to protect O'Connor much at this point, Felix Gall and Aurélien Paret-Peintre will have green card. The problem for many is that, as is always the case in the Pyrenees, race organizers make a flat start which will allow teams to block the peloton when a reasonable break goes up the road.

Prediction Tour de France 2023 stage 5:

*** Tadej Pogacar, Matteo Jorgenson, Giulio Ciccone
** Jonas Vingegaard, Rigoberto Urán, Neilson Powless
* Adam Yates, Simon Yates, Mattias Skjelmose, Alexey Lutsenko, Ruben Guerreiro, Ion Izagirre

Pick: Matteo Jorgenson

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