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Tour de France 2012: Stage 5 Preview - Rouen to Saint-Quentin 196.5 km

A standard opening week stag today… one for the sprinters, but which one? Geraint Thomas has some tips

Another edgy day in prospect as the race heads inland in a stage more typical of the opening week of the Tour than some of those we’ve seen so far – this one looks set to follow the tried and tested script of a small break containing at least a couple of Frenchmen looking to get their sponsors’ names in front of the TV cameras before inevitably being swept up ahead of the finale as the sprinters’ teams ratchet up the pace.

Whoever takes the likely sprint today will be able to claim – albeit with a nudge and a wink – to have won a Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour de France; the finish line today is located next to the park of that name in Saint-Quentin, where the now retired Robbie McEwen won the second of his three stages in 2006 on his way to claiming the green jersey for the third and final time.

Geraint Thomas says: This looks like another classic Tour sprint, with the usual guys again – I'd have said Marcel Kittel, but he's been struggling with illness these past few days. Greipel is on form, but GreenEdge will be desperate for a win for Matt Goss by now.

For more on this year's Tour check out our full 2012 Tour de France preview with expert analysis by Team Sky's Geraint Thomas.

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.

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