We knew it would be a rip-roarer of a stage but who predicted that Stage 5 of this year’s Tour de France would see Jumbo-Visma have a shit day of #unluck; Tadej Pogacar ride the cobbles like they were smooth asphalt; EF’s two riders in the break practically ridden down by their own teammate; that Primoz Roglic‘s Tour nemesis would come in the form of a stray haybale; or that the stage would be decided in a photofinish between Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarche-Wanty) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech)? And yet for all that, none of the jerseys changed hands. There was nothing straightforward about today’s stage and there will be nothing straightforward about this write up. Just hang on tight and see how dirty we get by the end.
A week packed with some spicy stage finishes, three riders slipping the red jerset around their shoulders and some unexpected and joyful stage victories. All characteristics that make a great Vuelta – we LOVE it. Here’s a quick rundown from stages one to nine.
Another so-called Vuelta sprint stage – this time with over 2,500m of vertical gain from the Moorish grandeur of Granada down to the coast. Victory came from a three-up sprint for the line between riders who’d initially been part of the day’s large break. Simon Clarke (EF-Drapac) prevailed ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) to take his team’s first WorldTour win of the season. The trio’s cat-and-mousing in the final kilometres meant they were almost caught by the threesome in red-hot pursuit, which contained Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) who crucially finished 4:47 ahead of race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), sufficient to take the race lead and red jersey by 1:01. It’s the first time in 13 years that an FDJ rider has worn a race leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour. Break out the champagne!