During Wednesday’s medium mountains stage from Limoges to Le Lorian the Tour de France GC riders were tested a first time. Some riders struggled with the heat and the rolling roads in the Cantal region.
Amongst the GC riders, Frenchman Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) proved to be at the level he wanted to be. He finished in the main group at 5:07 from stage winner and new race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). Barguil is still positioned in the same time as most GC riders, including Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
After the tough stage Barguil was spinning down on the rollers next to the Giant-Alpecin team bus. When asked how he looked back on the first part of the Tour de France he laughed.
"It's only just beginning. Three weeks are long. Last year I cracked at three, four days from the end. This year I arrived at the race in different conditions. I’m less good now but more fresh. I hope that at the end of the race that will make the difference," Barguil said. "Last year I felt super during the first stages but that might also have been euphoria. This year, well, it's not that I'm feeling bad but also not a super feeling. We'll see how it goes in the Pyrenees. I"m looking forward to the Pyrenees already."
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Regarding Wednesday's stage, Barguil was pleased with how things unfolded over the 216 kilometres.
"Movistar showed today that they're a very strong team. They set a very strong tempo and avoided stress in the descents. It was well played. It was a good race. It was exhausting all day long. It was never easy. There wasn't a single flat road. Sometimes these stages are harder than a stage in the high mountain."
Barguil learned a few things about his rivals for the general classification during the fifth stage.
"Rui Costa wasn't up there anymore. Vincenzo Nibali was also dropped. Stages like these do show who will be playing along for the general classification. Romain's acceleration? He was riding on home soil so they expected an acceleration from him. I didn't know the corner too well and wasn't well positioned. At the same moment Geraint Thomas and Nieve sat up completely so it wasn't easy to follow the moves. It quickly came back together though."