Tour de France Stage 5 was a relentless one that twisted and turned through Finisterre along narrow roads peppered with sharp climbs. A riot of rouleurs stormed into the break, bickering and attacking their way to within 12km of victory. Sprinters were dropped, favourites burnt their matches, but no one could stop an irrepressible Peter Sagan from claiming his second victory. Pure raw power kept the world champion ahead of Sonny Colbrelli after a handy lead out from race leader Greg Van Avermaet. An impressive Philippe Gilbert hung on to take third after an explosive attack at the start of the uphill charge for the line. He’s now only 3 secs from the yellow jersey with the Mur de Bretagne to come on stage 6. Bring it on!
Rider of the Race
I could not believe my ears when I heard the composition of today’s breakaway. How in the heck did the peloton let those seven riders up the road?
I can only imagine the collective shudder that went through BMC when they heard just who they would have to keep in check. With five categorised climbs on the menu and no one from King of the Mountains squad Wanty Groupe Gobert present, it quickly became apparent that the polka dots and maybe a stage win were up for grabs. Step forward my rider of the day, the potato-loving Latvian and firm Midge favourite Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo).Embed from Getty Images
The dynamics in that seven-man group was fascinating to watch with the wily Direct Energie duo of Lilian Calmejane and Sylvain Chavanel holding all the aces. Not that the Trek rider was daunted in the least as he displayed all the attackityness, dogged determination and guile that have brought him three victories already this year. Chasing down a superb solo venture from Chavanel and dispatching his rivals one by one until only Calmejane remained. The pair were swept up with 12km to go but not before Toms got the better of the Frenchman on the last two climbs to claim the polka dots – the first Latvian to ever take a major jersey at the Tour.
Today I was mostly out there trying to go for the stage win and I end up with the polka dot jersey. Obviously, it’s not a bad way to start.
Important Skujins facts. First, how to pronounce that surname…
Second, just what is it about potatoes ?
We’re only on stage 5 and the Velvet Samurai has already racked up two victories, two second places, a day in yellow and now the record for most number of days in the green jersey.
The new hairstyle is growing on me. LOVE [I wholeheartedly agree – ed]
Spare a thought for Sylvain Chavanel
We were treated to an exhibition of vintage, teeth-gritted Chavanel today. Powering away on a solo rampage and thoroughly enjoying the venture. He was so very nearly rewarded with the King of the Mountain jersey for his efforts, only missing out on count back.
This is his second solo ride and he’s certainly racking up the kilometres off the front. Could we see him on the podium in Paris as the most attacking rider – what a way to round off his career.
Incidents and accidents
News broke this morning that two riders who would surely have targeted these Ardennes-style stages in Brittany would not be present on the start line in Lorient. Last year’s green jersey winner Michael Matthews (Sunweb) suffered sickness and stomach cramps overnight. Let’s hope that does not sweep through the team.
Meanwhile Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) made the decision to withdraw after a nasty crash on stage 4 left him with a dislocated shoulder and cuts and bruises to his face and back.
The stage had barely got out of the neutral zone before another crash forced Katusha-Alpecin’s mountain lieutenant Robert Kiserlovski to abandon with a suspected broken collarbone. More bad news for a beleaguered Ilnur Zakarin.
No one likes to see riders abandon after they have sacrificed so much to be ready for this race. We wish them all a speedy recovery.
1 Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) 4:48:06
2 Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) same time
3 Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) s/t
4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) s/t
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 9:08:55
2 Tejay van Garderen (BMC) same time
3 Geraint Thomas Sky) +0.03
4 Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) +0.05
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) +0.07
6 Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) same time
7 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +0:11
8 Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) same time
9 Michael Matthews (Sunweb) s/t
10 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale) +0:35
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
KOM jersey: Toms Skujins (Trek Segafredo)
Best young rider: Soren Kragh Anderson (Sunweb)
Most combative: Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo)
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Header picture: © MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images