The rain, wind and cobblestones of the fifth Tour de France stage from Ypres to Arenberg were a disastrous mix, but it turned out to be the petrol-slick roads rather than the pavé that proved the most dangerous.
Although the stage was riddled with crashes, the only abandon of the stage came from defending champion Chris Froome. The Sky rider dropped out after having two more crashes, having already started the day with an injured wrist.
While some voices decried the inhumanity of including such a difficult stage in the Tour de France, they were in the minority. Most riders took to Twitter to express relief at having survived the day.
Stage winner Lars Boom, who yesterday tweeted a photo of the puddles pooling on the pave with the comment "I have a big smile", was amongst those taking to the social media network to express his joy at having won the stage. "Epic stage! Dream comes through!!! Yessss," he wrote. And later added, "Sooooo awesome to win this Tour de France stage. I really enjoyed the rain on the cobbles today. So happy."
Alberto Contador, who lost time, dropping to 2:37 behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali, said, "Today was a surviving day, I lost time with very big riders at GC, but I'm still alive and without crashes. The @letour start now!"
Laurens ten Dam (Belkin): "On a sudden moment I was even enjoying myself. Till someone did crash right in front of me. Couldn't avoid him. [Steven Kruijswijk] saved my race!"
Stef Clement (Belkin): "After a day in the saddle like this, there is only one thing that makes all good; hearing the name of your TEAM mate at the finish as WINNER"
Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin): "What a day! Personal it went wrong. Again. But what a beautiful stage!! Great win of @lars_boom !! I will enjoy this!! & I LOVE WET COBBLES!"
Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin): "Focussed on this stage and finished it @lars_boom! Team was great, I even enjoyed it a little bit on the cobbles!"
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp): "Not sure if it got shown on tv but @Ride_Argyle rode like a band of brothers today. Can't wait to repay their hard work in the mountains.
"Could not have asked for a more dedicated and incredible group of guys to get me through today. Unscathed, safe, feeling great.
"And a HUGE thank you to our mechanics. They put so much into today and never get the spotlight. Not a single mechanical issue for me.
Ted King (Cannondale): "First time for everything, right? Today's edition of that is 3.5 hours of violent shivering."
Patrick Lefevere (Omega Pharma-Quickstep manager): "Amazing race today of my #opqs boys but bad luck for @michalkwiatek with flat tyre on second last sector"
Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep): "Cycling is also have good luck..today that was not on our side!! But we will fight again!!"
Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quickstep): "Thanks God for @iamspecialized 30mm tubes! #staysafe"
Richie Porte (Team Sky): "Going to miss having @chrisfroome around for this TdF but sure he'll be back next year stronger than ever #lionheart"
Brian Cookson (UCI President): "Another absolutely amazing stage @letour today!"
Tejay van Garderen (BMC): "I Have a whole new level of respect for cobbled classic racers. Those guys are fucking warriors!!!"
Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge): "Survived the day without crashing and inside the time limit. Under the circumstances, that's a win in my book."
Koen de Kort (Giant-Shimano): "Congratulations to @lars_boom and @TeamBelkin. Great victory."
Steven de Jongh (Tinkoff-Saxo DS): "Battle is over for today. Congrats to Boom. Looking forward to the mountains. Vamos #Tinkoff4TDF @tinkoff_saxo"
Nicholas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo): "Crashed 25k to go ;( , sorry could not do more to help in finish @albertocontador @tinkoff_saxo"
Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo): "Muddy & slippery stage 5 is behind us. Sector 2 was by far the worst in my opinion."
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana): "I said crazy in every possible way this morning! It was but mostly in a good way...super happy! Amazing @AstanaTeam work #TDF #WEW1N"
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Belisol): "What a race. Crashes everywhere . Happy I survived the day without a crash. Good job @Lotto_Belisol to keep VDB in front."
Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar): "Fun day with fall included, poor spectator who I knocked down... I am sorry."
Jerome Pineau (IAM Cycling): "To those who were protesting the removal of the two secteurs, was there enough of a spectacle?"
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