Where is the Tour?
Starting in Edinburgh, today’s stage runs north to south, ending with what will likely be a bunch sprint in Blyth. With two relatively hilly days on the horizon, Stage 4 will be a welcome addition for the sprinters.
The peloton only has to negotiate one serious climb today in the form of the category 2 Redstone Rigg. The 7.2 kilometre climb will deceive riders with a easy downhill section in the middle, which means it only averages 4%. Near the top, however, it ramps up to a leg-busting 17%.
With a long downhill run after Redstone Rigg, punctuated by two small category 3 climbs, the steep slopes at the top of the climb could prove a good launchpad for a long range attack.
Stage 4's finish in Northumberland marks the first time that the Tour of Britain has passed through the region since 2009. Back then the stage finished with a sprint in Gateshead, with Rabobank's Kai Reus taking the top spot in a break away followed closely by Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Team bus tactics:
As was the case with the last time the Tour of Britain visited north east England, Stage 4 could be a good opportunity for the break to go away, especially if the sprinter's teams cannot get their act together.
Look for a group of around eight to twelve, made up of both World Tour and domestic based riders, to go away and quite possibly stay away till the end.
The perhaps more exciting and likely alternative is that the sprinters get their act together and we see a finish similar to that of Stage 1. The run into Blyth is slightly downhill with a small roundabout and 90˚ right turn to negotiate in the final kilometre. Whoever hits the apex of that final corner could use the momentum to spur them onto victory 250 metres later.
Our Pick: Andre Greipel
Taking third on the first Stage will not be enough for the 33 year-old German. Coming off a sterling Tour de France performance, where he took four stage victories, the Lotto Soudal rider will be looking to build on his stellar form ahead of the World Championships.
Let us know who you think will be victorious in Stage 4 in the comments section below.
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