Tour de France: Stage: Stage Three Preview: Verviers – Longwy

Stage three of the Tour de France will take the field through three countries on a fairly hilly stage  

Stage three of the Tour will see the riders tackle a fairly hilly route that will see the field make their way from Belgium to Luxembourg before finishing the stage in the French commune of Longwy.

One thing’s for sure, there won’t be a bunch sprint to the finish today as we end the stage atop the Cote des Religieuses – a 1.6-kilometre climb at a gradient of 5.8%.

To Win Stage
Peter Sagan 9/4 | Michael Matthews 11/2 | Philippe Gilbert 13/2 | Greg van Avermaet 7/1 | Arnaud Denare 10/1

The Contenders

Peter Sagan
This is definitely the sort of stage that the 27-year-old would have been targeting when the route was finalised. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider won a very similar stage at the 2016 Tour as he summited the Côte de La Glacerie to claim the day’s stage – he will take some stopping today.

Philippe Gilbert
The field will depart from the Belgian’s hometown of Verviers today as he looks to add to his solitary Tour win which came on the first stage of the 2011 edition of the competition. He’s been in pretty good touch in 2017 and could push Sagan all the way, although I simply don’t see him winning here this evening, especially on the 16 kilometre climb the finish.

Michał Kwiatkowski
The Pole could represent a tasty little value bet if he is indeed allowed to ride for himself today. Whether or not he’ll be allowed any freedom from the Team Sky bosses / Chris Froome remains to be seen. Kwiatkowski is very much a Classics specialist and has beaten out the likes of Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe in the Milan-San Remo this year, although that finish did end in a three-way flat sprint to the line.

The Route 
After a fairly tame stage - sprinkled with a few high-profile crashes - on day two of the Tour, we’ll definitely see some splits in the Peloton today with five categorised climbs on what is an extremely hilly stage. This includes a 1.6-kilometre climb to the finish atop the Cote des Religieuses which will all but eliminate any chance that the sprinters have of claiming stage victory.

Of the five categorised climbs, the ascent up the Côte d'Eschdorf at the 120-kilometre mark will prove the most difficult for the sprinters. Coming in at an average of 9.3%, the 2.3-kilometre climb will no doubt challenge the quicks, but will hardly break their backs at this early stage of the race.

From a betting point of view, you really have to look at this stage as a Classics race. The likes of Sagan, Gilbert, van Avermaet and Michael Kwiatkowski should all be in the mix come the end of the stage, although I don’t really see any of them pipping the Slovak to the finish.

Verdict: Peter Sagan to beat Michael Matthews (Match-Ups) 5/10
5/10 looks excellent value here with Sagan looking like the man to beat on this stage. I’d liked to have backed him to win the stage outright, but at 9/4 it just doesn’t offer enough value. I like the safety net that the match-up offers us. Get on at 5/10!

Value Bet: Michał Kwiatkowski 33/1
I really do hope that the Team Sky bosses give the Polish rider license to ride for himself here instead of protecting Froome. If he is allowed to go, he’ll be a serious contender heading up the final climb. Have a small go at 33/1 here.

Written by Jason Dewey for

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