As feared and anticipated, stage 5 of the 2022 Tour de France with its 11 sectors of cobblestone roads wreaked havoc on the peloton, ruined some riders' hopes for the overall and knocked a few out of the race entirely.
Cyclingnews takes a look back at the most important moments of the most manic stage yet of this year's Tour de France.
Van Aert crashes
Tour de France leader Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was uncharacteristically far back in the peloton for the first half of stage 5. With the first of 11 sectors of pavé looming on the horizon, he began working his way up but then a touch of wheels in the bunch sent him sprawling to the tarmac. During his chase back, he almost clipped the Team DSM car. He finished the stage near the front of the chase group behind stage winner Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) but had to have been rattled by such a frantic day.
"I didn't really like it in the front of the bunch, the roads were way too dangerous. Everyone expected something from us because of the cobbles, but then we started to go through the villages and there were a lot of narrowings and things on the road. I didn't like it there and didn't want to take risks. At the moment when I thought it was necessary to start moving up I immediately crashed because of a narrowing. I hurt myself a bit but I also lost a bit of confidence to go really in the fight for position.
"It's a shame because at that point I let down the other boys and I was in the back instead of having a good position on the cobbles. From then on it was a fight with myself the whole day." - Wout van Aert after stage 5 of the Tour de France.
More Jumbo-Visma mayhem
pic.twitter.com/n3lYmopwQnJuly 6, 2022
There was another slapstick moment for Jumbo-Visma as Jonas Vingegaard suffered a mechanical and then swapped bikes with a much taller teammate. The saddle of the bike was so high that the Dane couldn't sit on it and reach the pedals. Soon, Steven Kruijswijk stopped with him and the pair swapped bikes, but just as they did so, the Jumbo-Visma car made it to them and stopped on the opposite side of the road.
With the tall grass waving in the breeze, Vingegaard sprinting across the road, the mechanic hastily pulling new bikes down for the riders and each one having to find the correct machine to get on was a surreal scene.
Powless almost gets the yellow jersey
With Van Aert ordered back to help Vingegaard and company, the gap to the front group grew large enough that EF Education-EasyPost's Neilson Powless - the best placed rider in the move - was in the virtual maillot jaune. The American attacked too early in the finish and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) won the stage, but for a brief moment, Powless was listed atop the GC standings.
Unfortunately for him, Van Aert - "half human, half motor" - reeled in an attack from Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), then reduced the gap enough to keep the maillot jaune by 13 seconds.
O'Connor's puncture and furious chase
Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) suffered a puncture on the second sector of cobbles with 57km to go. It should have given him and his teammates ample time to chase back. However, the narrow roads and nine sectors of pavé peppering the finale caused a traffic jam of cars, TV motorbikes and support vehicles on the roads, hampering their chase.
O'Connor ended up finishing 4:12 behind the stage winner Simon Clarke, and, more importantly, almost four minutes behind defending champion Tadej Pogačar and 13 seconds less to the main group of contenders.
Loose hay bale causes Haig to crash out
With 30km to go, the Van Aert group was closing in on the main peloton. Groupama-FDJ was leading the bunch through a series of narrow roads when disaster struck for Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious).
The first rider made it around a protective hay bale that had fallen halfway into the road - perhaps knocked out of place by the publicity caravan or cars following the breakaway - as did the first 20 or so riders. Haig and several teammates hit it and came crashing down along with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal).
Haig was out, Ewan suffered a mild concussion and Thomas was unscathed.
pic.twitter.com/ud3z8riBeHJuly 6, 2022
Pogačar's prowess on the pavé
After the crash from Haig, Tadej Pogačar made a move along with Trek-Segafredo's Jasper Stuyven. The pair came in so hot into a turn heading toward the penultimate sector of cobbles that Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) - a podium finisher in Paris-Roubaix - slid out.
The pair continued pushing the pace and finished 51 seconds behind the winner, but for all their effort only gained 13 seconds on the peloton led by Van Aert.
"It was not easy at all, I suffered quite a bit," Pogačar said. "He almost dropped me a few times, I struggled and I held onto his wheel. We came onto the front to take some seconds. I have to buy him a beer."
Joy for Clarke, heartache for Van der Hoorn
The final sprint came down to four: Powless attacked early, Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) was the first to react. Simon Clarke followed him and then Taco Van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) put in a blistering move that looked sure to win.
The cagey Aussie, however, jumped onto his wheel, waited until the final 50 metres, then accelerated and threw his bike and snatched the victory.
"I really had to chase him hard, then Taco came straight over the top. I looked up and I saw 350 and thought that's a long way to go, we've been sprinting since the 800m to go corner. I just tucked in behind him and went as hard as I could to the line," Clarke said.
Tour de France stage 5 video highlights
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.