Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 stage five preview - sprint or break?

Stage five looks like another opportunity for the sprinters, but with the punchy climbs, in the second half a break could keep away

Distance: 126km 
Start location: Onet-le-Château 
Finish location: Albi 
Stage type: Flat 
Start time: 14:00 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:20 CEST 

Albi has a rich history intertwined with the Tour de France, dating back to 1953 when the race first arrived in the town. It was in that year's edition that French cyclist André Darrigade claimed victory – one of his 22 stage wins throughout his illustrious career. Over the years, Albi has been both the start and finish points for various stages, and witness to triumphant moments of riders such as Alexandre Vinokourov, Peter Sagan and Wout van Aert. As the Tour de France Femmes continues its journey south towards the Pyrenees, the women's peloton will also conclude stage five in the heart of this charming town. 

Situated on the banks of the Tarn River, Albi boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pont Vieux (old bridge) and Sainte Cécile Cathedral. The route of stage five will pass across the town's bridge, opposite the Post Vieux, while stage six will commence just outside the magnificent Gothic cathedral. Constructed with the town's distinctive red brick, Albi emanates a harmonious and commanding presence against the verdant landscape that surrounds it. 

Stage five profile sourced via ASO

Before reaching the captivating red-hued city of Albi, the women's peloton will face a 126km route with three categorised climbs. The stage begins in Onet-le-Château, a new addition to the Tour de France Femmes host cities, and heads west towards Najac, where a category three climb awaits. The Côte de Najac, spanning 2.1km with an average gradient of 7.4%, poses a test after a fairly undulating open to the stage. Following shortly after is the Côte de Laguépie. 

This stage presents an opportunity for a long breakaway, but it is also a chance that the sprinters won't want to miss, considering the flat run-in to the finish. Sprinters who possess decent climbing abilities for these short, sharp ascents could emerge as strong contenders for this stage, potentially diminishing the hopes of any breakaway artists. 


Stage three winner Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime) would have been in contention for the stage if it comes down to a sprint, but has since abandoned the race with illness. SD Worx do have the yellow jersey with Lotte Kopecky, another rider in the Dutch team who is showcasing exceptional form, coming first, second and third in the first three stages. It feels unlikely they'll want to control the race for the entire day to ensure a bunch finish, but Kopecky should be involved if there is a sprint for the line.

Looking to get one up on her formed teammate is Charlotte Kool (Team dsm-Firmenich), who came close to a stage win in the opening stage. She has a strong team around her and a top lead-out in the form of Pfeiffer Georgi, who will help to deliver her teammate to victory. 

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) is another rider who favours the bunch sprint. In the past two opportunities for the sprinters, Vos has placed fourth and second, challenging Wiebes for the stage. But one rider who knows how to beat Vos is Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ), having beaten her at the Giro Donne earlier this month. Consonni has been in the mix with the fast finishers, but is yet to stand on the podium. 

However, the stage could also favour the breakaway. The riders witnessed an underdog celebrating stage victory in stage four, so will feel more confident in the breakaway being successful. We may see some of the same names from stage four's breakaway going for the stage win today too, including Lucinda Brand (Lidl-Trek), Anouska Koster (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) or Romy Kasper (AG Insurance–Soudal Quick-Step).


We think the stage will come down a sprint and Charlotte Kool will secure her first stage win.  

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