Live coverage of stage 5 of the 2016 Tour de France – a 216km medium-mountain stage from Limoges to Le Lioran.
Good morning and a warm welcome back to Cyclingnews’ live race centre for stage 5 of the Tour de France. We’re heading for the hills for the first real time in the race. The Pyrenees and the Alps come later, but the Massif Central is today set to provide testing ground for the peloton in what could be the first reliable GC indicator of the race.
Here's the profile
"The Massif Central is difficult; there are lots of small climbs, and loads of possibilities to attack. A medium mountain stage is harder to read and harder to control, I think, than the high mountains. More things can happen; there are three late climbs and there's going to be a real fight."
That's what two-time Tour de France winner Bernard Thévenet said of today's stage, speaking on French TV.
So, here we are in Limoges, and it's another nice day. Riders are signing on and going through their pre-race rituals, and they'll be rolling out in about 25 minutes' time.
That stage profile gives some of the story, but for a detailed look at what's in store today, have a read of Stephen Farrand's in-depth preview.
@dnlbenson Wed, 6th Jul 2016 08:03:37
Peter Sagan has just gone to sign on - in demand, as ever, from fans and media alike. He faces a fight to hold onto the yellow jersey today.
Before we get underway, a reminder of how the GC stands after four stages:
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 20:03:02
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:12
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:14
4 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:18
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac
And a reminder of our jersey wearers - though many of these may change hands today.
Yellow: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
White: Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep)
Green (on loan from Sagan): Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)
Polka-dot: Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)
And they're off!
The opening kilometres of the first four stages have been fairly calm, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that trend bucked here.
There should be plenty of interest in the breakaway here - it could even go all the way to the finish. There'll be plenty thinking they can do something today, and it may take a while before the powers that be in the peloton settle on a situation they're happy with.
It's all together after 5km despite a string of attacks
"It’s going to be a crazy day," Katusha DS Dimitri Konyshev tells Cyclingnews.
"There will be lots of attacks and I’m sure the French riders will be in the break today. I think the break will stay away. Then we’ll see what happens with the GC guys, as they’re all favourites for the climb. Ilnur [Zakarin] is good. After his Giro crash he only had 10 days off the bike and was then back in to full training. We’ve got confidence in him."
206km remaining from 216km
A French Pro Conti-flavoured small group goes off the front but the race comes back together. 10km down.
Jasper Stuyven clips off the front of the bunch, but only to collect the solitary point at the top of the fourth-category Côte de Saint-Léonard-du-Noblat. The young Belgian extends his lead in the KOM standings but there's a good chance he'll have to hand over the polka-dots at the end of the day.
We grabbed a quick word with Stuyven this morning, and he said he won't be riding to defend the polka-dot jersey today, explaining that he'd rather proactively go after a stage win than defend something.
Still no one able to make anything stick off the front of the peloton. At the other end, Bora-Argon 18's sprinter Sam Bennett is yo-yoing off the back already. The Irishman has been struggling since suffering quite a nasty finger injury on the opening stage.
More attacks, more reactions, and now we have a group of nine off the front with a small advantage.
Here's the group of nine:
Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept)
It looks like this could be it. This group has over two minutes, and counting, on the peloton.
Plenty of strength in this breakaway, and perhaps the name that stands out most is that of Rafal Majka. The Pole is here to support Alberto Contador but Tinkoff are also protecting the yellow jersey of Peter Sagan. Having Majka up there means that they won't really have to work in the peloton today, and if the break were to stay away, Majka would be a solid bet for the stage win.
Majka, by the way, is over 17 minutes down on GC, so he's no threat to anyone in that respect.
There are, however, four riders in there who are within a minute of the maillot jaune. Van Avermaet is 20th at 18 seconds, Pauwels and Sicard are at 35 seconds, and Gautier's at 39.
178km remaining from 216km
We've covered 38km so far, at a pretty brisk pace, and the gap continues to grow. It's currently edging towards the six-minute mark.
@irishpeloton Wed, 6th Jul 2016 10:33:48
A swift pace sees the riders cover 44.4km in the first hour of racing.
We grabbed a word with Thomas de Gendt this morning, and he said he didn't know if this was a day for him to get in the break.
"I worked hard for André Greipel and the two previous stages were long," he said. "I'll try and we'll see. I'm expecting more from the last week."
We spoke to Chris Froome about today's stage, and he said he wouldn't be surprised to see a certain Alejandro Valverde take yellow and begin a sustained GC bid.
The peloton, led by Sky's Luke Rowe, pick things up and start to manage the gap to the breakaway - currently at 6:40.
Could Greg Van Avermaet take the yellow jersey today?
“I’ve tried to be up there [in the finishes so far], I haven’t lost seconds, so I still have a chance, but the most important thing is getting a stage win,” he said this morning.
Asked if he fancied a breakaway: “It depends, I’m not going to go with four or five guys but if it’s a big group with some good teams I’ll try to be in there. It’s going be a hard stage for me, I’m going to suffer but I’ll try to be up there.”
145km remaining from 216km
6:15 is the current gap with 71km covered.
'It's a bike race, grow up everybody'
With a much more selective finale on the cards today, we shouldn't see the fighting for position witnessed on the first few stages, where sprinters teams have tried to set up their leadout trains alongside GC teams trying to keep their leaders out of trouble. It has become a hot topic at this Tour, with Sagan and Cavendish speaking out, and Sky boss Dave Brailsford has now weighed in. His thoughts are worth a read:
@BoraArgon18 Wed, 6th Jul 2016 11:22:36
The race situation is pretty sedate as riders enjoy the calm before the storm. The gap is holding at 6:45 with 40km of relatively benign terrain before the serious stuff begins.
To illustrate the calmness out there, the breakaway riders covered just 36.2km in the second hour of racing. That gives an average speed for the day so far of 40.3km/h.
Some action now in the breakaway, who are not working cohesively. Some of the riders aren't happy, and it's splitting up out there.
Grivko, Van Avermaet, and De Gendt have accelerated away, leaving the other six riders scrapping to regain contact.
This new leading trio has 20 seconds on the rest of the escapees. This will probably come back together but will provide a much needed shake-up, and a reminder that a lack of contribution won't be tolerated lightly.
Perhaps it won't come back together. Despite having double the manpower, the second group on the road is either not as strong or not as united - or a mixture of both - and they're ceding ground to the leading trio. 45 seconds is the gap.
@BMCProTeam Wed, 6th Jul 2016 12:06:15
109km remaining from 216km
Meanwhile, the peloton slip back slightly as they pass through the feed zone. Over 9 minutes now to the three leaders.
Puncture for Eduardo Sepúlveda, who has teammates to help him back to the bunch.
Ian Stannard is still driving things on the front of the peloton. Behind him is pretty much the entire Tinkoff team, with the other Sky riders behind them.
@letourdata Wed, 6th Jul 2016 12:15:16
100km remaining from 216km
The gap between the leading trio and the peloton continues to grow with just under 100km to go now. Still a fair way to go before the important climbs but they've giving themselves a chance here.
@stephenfarrand Wed, 6th Jul 2016 12:24:14
Intrigued by the 'equation' in that last tweet? Well, here it is. More details here.
Problem for Froome, who finds himself at the back of the bunch and scrambling to move back up, with Mikels Nieve and Landa having dropped back to help him. Stannard ploughs on at the heat of the bunch.
The second group of six continue to lose ground and now find themselves two minutes in arrears and with another hurdle to go on top of the climbs that await.
Over 12 minutes now for Van Avermaet, De Gendt, and Grivko and they're hitting the lower slopes of the second climb of the day, but the first in the stage 5 endgame - the third-cat Côte de Puy Saint-Mary.
80km remaining from 216km
Van Avermaet, Grivko and De Gendt hit the base of the Puy Saint-Mary with a lead of 13 minutes over the peloton. The 6.8km climb has an average gradient of just 3.9%, but the peloton faces rolling, heavy roads from here on in that ought to exact a toll by the finish.
Luke Rowe continues to lead the main peloton, with a retinue of Tinkoff riders lined up behind him. With Rafal Majka up the road, Sagan and Contador's guard can maintain a watching brief for the time being.
The peloton crosses the mighty Dordogne at the Pont de Saint-Project some 13:25 down on our three leaders. There is no urgency just yet.
75km remaining from 216km
An entanglement in the main peloton ahead of the Cote de Saint-Mary sees Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Yukiya Arashiro (Lampre-Merida) among the riders caught up, but mercifully it doesn't seem that anybody has been injured.
73km remaining from 216km
De Gendt accelerates clear of his two companions to pick up the two points on offer atop the category 3 Cote de Puy Saint-Mary, and then sits up.
The gap to the chasing group stretches out to 2:30 on the climb, while the peloton is now some 14 minutes back.
71km remaining from 216km
The intermediate sprint at Mauriac follows the summit of the Cote de Puy Saint-Mary, and Van Avermaet rolls across the line in first ahead of Grivko and De Gendt.
Pauwels leads the chasers through the sprint at Mauriac, some 2:30 behind our trio of leaders. 14 minutes further back the road, meanwhile, Ian Stannard has taken up the reins for Team Sky.
68km remaining from 216km
The peloton's deficit to the three leaders has now yawned out to a quarter of an hour. Etixx-QuickStep are watching Julian Alpahilippe's hopes of taking yellow this afternoon chug up the road away from them, but for the time being, only Sky are working on the front.
And at that, Movistar send a rider to the front of the peloton to contribute to the chase. Valverde began the day 14 seconds off the maillot jaune, while Quintana lies just behind Froome, 18 seconds back.
Imanol Erviti's presence at the front of the peloton hasn't added any particular urgency to its pace. The deficit remains at 15 minutes.
Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) leads the peloton through the intermediate sprint, to pick up six points. The Frenchman came across the line ahead of Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
63km remaining from 216km
As it stands, incidentally, Van Avermaet is the maillot jaune virtuel. The Belgian began the day 18 seconds down in 20th place overall, but he seems destined to leap up the standings today. Indeed, at this juncture, with the peloton still 15 minutes behind, the stage winner all but seems certain to come from the nine riders in the two groups off the front.
Majka, Pauwels, Gautier, Huzarski, Vachon and Sicard are still conceding ground to the three riders at the head of the race. They're currently 2:43 down on the leaders.
56km remaining from 216km
De Gendt, Van Avermaet and Grivko are on the long ridge that leads towards the day's next climb, the category 3 Col de Neronne (7.1 kilometres at 3%). Their lead over the peloton has dropped slightly to 14:40.
Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) is the man currently setting the pace at the head of the peloton, and the world time trial champions efforts are beginning to make some inroads into the deficit, which now stands at 14:25.
50km remaining from 216km
Serge Pauwels tries to breathe some life into the efforts of the chasing sextet, but they remain almost three minutes behind the three leaders, who have just hit the lower slopes of the Col de Neronne.
5km to the top of this climb, and it's De Gendt who's setting the pace up front. Van Avermaet just tapping it out behind him.
Back in the bunch it's Kiryienka controlling it for Team Sky, who have most of their riders amassed at the front. The gap is coming down as a result, and they're now less than 13 minutes in arrears.
We've just driven the final 30km of the stage, from the top of the Puy Mary climb, which has spectacular views over the Massif Central.
"It’s a helter-skelter descent to Mandailles, with a number of off-camber corners, tricky hairpins and blind corners," writes Procycling magazine's Sam Dansie, joining us in the car.
"Next up, the Col du Perthus is a pig of a category 2 climb with a constantly fluctuating gradient. It gets steeper and narrow towards the top. It’s the perfect launch-pad for the GC men who can descend because the steep descent to Saint-Jacques-Des-Blats is just as technical as off the Puy Mary. Factor in some wooded sections and some exposed corners where the tar is melting and everyone will have to be careful.
"The final climb over the Font de Cère drags on up a very broad, well surfaced main road. Escapees will be in the peloton’s sights. There’s a final kick up to the line, but the main damage could be caused on the Perthus. All told, it’s a tasty finale."
Who's going to take the victory today? It looks like the winner will be coming either from the leading trio or the sextet behind, but who's best suited to the terrain? Let me know your thoughts via Twitter - @paddyfletch
Movistar decide to contribute now and put most of their team on the front of the bunch.
De Gendt bags the two KOM points at the top of the Col de Neronne, Van Avermaet cresting just behind him.
This time is taking its toll back in the bunch as a fair few riders start to lose contact. Among them are Mark Cavendish and Alexander Kristoff.
It's a striking view as the riders traverse their way along a road cut into the steep, verdant hillside. Pic from @letour
35km remaining from 216km
35 to go and the peloton continues its advance. The gap to the leaders is now 10:45. The chasing group in the middle is over three minutes behind the head of the race.
Poulidor on Bardet/Pinot and memories of his Anquetil rivalry, Martinelli on what it's like to manage Aru and Nibali, life at Cofidis without Bouhanni, video highlights...
It's all in today's edition of Tour de France shorts
Our three leaders are climbing again. This time it's the second-category Pas de Peyrol - aka the Puy Mary. It's 5.4km long with an average gradient of 8.1%. It's also sort of split into two, with the first portion relatively benign and the upper slopes particularly nasty.
The Puy Mary stands at 1589 metres above sea level and, as our sister publication Procycling magazine tells us, the Tour has not been above 1,500m altitude this early in the race since 1979, which was probably the toughest-ever opening to the race, with three Pyrenean stages in the first four days.
The leading trio move on to the steeper ramps and Grivko is dropped. The Astana man really struggling.
Meanwhile there's a rather large group dangling off the back of the peloton. Stuyven, Boasson Hagen and others in there.
The second group on the road - the group of six- is starting to split up now, with Sicard and Huzarski in trouble.
Correction: it's Vachon who's in trouble with Sicard. Those two have lost contact and Huzarski, far from being dropped, is setting a really strong pace in that group that now contains four.
De Gendt looks really strong here. He's taking the initiative on this climb. Van Avermaet himself is doing an admirable job of staying with his compatriot, getting out of the saddle and managing his efforts on these steep ramps.
Cofidis' Arnold Jeannesson - formerly a Thibaut Pinot domestique - is dropped from the bunch on this climb, as is Astana's Jakob Fuglsang. That tells you how fast Movistar are hitting this. The gap is down to 8 minutes.
@dnlbenson Wed, 6th Jul 2016 14:12:42
The race leader begins to wobble and starts to lose ground on this climb. The yellow jersey looks certain to be slipping off his shoulders.
Vincenzo Nibali is also in trouble here.
De Gendt takes the points once more at the top of the climb and the duo begin the descent. Behind them Makja breaks clear of the chasing group as they head over.
@dnlbenson Wed, 6th Jul 2016 14:19:14
Mikel Landa losing ground now. This climb - and Movistar's pace-setting - is really taking its toll.
Roles are reversed on the descent as Van Avermaet takes the reigns and opens up a gap on De Gendt.
The peloton come over the top of the climb and it has thinned out considerably. Only around 30 riders left in there.
22km remaining from 216km
Here's how the finale looks. Another nasty climb begins with 19km to go.
Our two leaders hit the Col du Perthus. 4.4km at 7.9%.
The peloton is 7 minutes in arrears now. Nibali 1:40 behind them, Sagan 3 minutes back.
De Gendt comes to the front once more as the road heads uphill but he continues to bide his time. He'll be aware of the need to get rid of Van Avermaet rather than take him to the finish, and this climb represents the last remaining steep gradients of the stage.
@EdwardPickering Wed, 6th Jul 2016 14:31:33
@Will_faz Wed, 6th Jul 2016 14:16:51
@toddkingd Wed, 6th Jul 2016 14:12:06
It's not De Gendt who attacks, but Van Avermaet!
The BMC rider comes from behind to put in a stinging acceleration and, for now at least, the Lotto Soudal man has no response.
Van Avermaet won his first Tour stage last year and is well on his way to a second here. Whatever happens, it looks like he'll be in the yellow jersey at the end of the day.
In the chase group Pauwels and Gautier begin to struggle. Majka leads the way with Huzarski.
15km remaining from 216km
15km to go now for Van Avermaet and it looks like he's ditched De Gendt for good. He's nearly at the top of this climb.
Nibali is 2:45 behind the main group of the GC contenders. He's currently in a small group with Dumoulin and others. I guess that settles the Astana leadership debate.
Alaphilippe is rocking and rolling at the back of the bunch as Sky take it up now. The Frenchman is hanging in there.
Van Avermaet crests the climb and settles in for another descent, interrupted by a section of false flat.
Majka tops the climb with Huzarski but they're 3:20 behind Van Avermaet, who isn't conceding any ground here. The peloton are 2:20 behind the Majka group now.
9km remaining from 216km
Van Avermaet emerges off the descent and onto the main road. It won't be long before the next climb starts. Waiting on a time gap to De Gendt.
The Col de Font de Cère is much more benign - 3.3km at 5.8% on wide, well-surfaced roads.
Team Sky continue to lead the peloton of around 30, with Nieve on the front. They're 5:45 back on Van Avermaet.
Van Avermaet has an advantage of 1:30 at the head of the race as he begins this climb, which winds up gradually - cruelly, perhaps. It's more of a leg-sapping drag but once Van Avermaet gets over it he can be pretty much sure of the stage win.
Sky set a steady - rather than searing - tempo, and it's difficult to envisage anyone pulling off a successful attack from this peloton on the final climb. The last kilometre, however, is punchy, and may see some small gaps.
Majka drops back to the bunch to slot in ahead of Contador.
4km remaining from 216km
4.5 to go now for Van Avermaet whose mouth is gaping, shoulders rocking. Meanwhile De Gendt looks resigned as he slips to two minutes back.
Van Avermaet is not just riding into yellow, but doing so by some distance. He was just 18 seconds down on GC at the start of the day and still holds over six minutes over the bunch here. De Gendt was 15 minutes down at the start of the day so isn't a factor.
3km remaining from 216km
Still Team Sky contain this one and most of the riders in that bunch seem fairly content about it.
2km remaining from 216km
Van Avermaet has come over the final climb and he's heading downhill on a tricky little descent.
1km remaining from 216km
Flamme rouge for Van Avermaet and the road kicks back up. It's in the bag.
Van Avermaet enters the home straight, gets out of the saddle in front of the masses of fans and under the baking sunshine. He's still giving it everything here but must be loving this.
Greg Van Avermaet wins stage 5 of the Tour de France
The Belgian cracks a smile, sits up, points to his jersey and celebrates one of the biggest moments of his career. The new race leader.
Valverde, Quintana and Pinot are alive to it, but there's a gap opening up behind.
Contador is distanced
Valverde hits the front as the group comes back together but strings out. Contador, who has had a torrid Tour so far, faces a real fight on his hands in these final couple of kilometres.
De Gendt crosses the line for second
Final kilometre for the GC group. Valverde is working on the front with Quintana on his wheel. Room, still, for a late attack.
Contador has the last rider in the line in his sights. He's limiting his losses here.
Majka drops Huzarski to take third but here comes the bunch.
Rodriguez and Martin lead the bunch home. They're mostly together but where's Contador?
Contador crosses the line and he has lost 15-20 seconds here.
We're still waiting for Nibali to cross the line. You sense Aru won't be overly displeased.
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 5:31:36
2 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:02:34
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:05:04
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha
5 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:07
6 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 18
7 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange
9 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
10 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
@toddkingd Wed, 6th Jul 2016 15:17:13
General classification after stage 5
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 25:34:46
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:11
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:13
4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:05:14
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:05:17
6 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:05:17
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:17
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:05:17
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac 0:05:17
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:17
Contador rides back to his bus. Let the inquisition commence.
"It feels great. It’s a dream come true," says Van Avermaet.
"I was happy with the stage win last year but now to have a stage win and the yellow jersey, it’s once in a lifetime and I’m going enjoy it as much as possible tomorrow."
Contador speaks to a media scrum
"It was better than I expected, I lost less time than I thought I would - I knew it was going to be a difficult stage, and I knew the other teams would make it tricky for me. The last part of the stage was really tough. I found it hard to breathe. I've lost some time, there's no doubt about it. But every day I can recover some of that. I have to wait and see what I can do and I'll give it my best.
"I'm feeling better than I was a few days ago. I felt pretty good towards the end of the stage. I've worked very hard over the last months to be here in the best condition I could. Obviously crashes in the opening stages is not ideal, but I feel like I'm bouncing back. I also feel I've done my best and that's all I can do."
"There were some tricky climbs and dangerous descents. From our point of view we’re happy with that, happy to stay out of trouble. One day down.
"It wasn’t in our interest [to put a rider up the road], it was more about keeping out of trouble. The big GC days are still to come. Today was selective but not a big showdown.
"I was surprised by Vincenzo [Nibali]; I’d have expected him to come here with his A game. With Alberto [Contador] that’s quite normal after the couple of big crashes that he’s had. No one wants to see that, myself included. I’d rather gain time in the mountains, not becuase he’s suffering with injury."
Van Avermaet steps out onto the podium to collect the famous maillot jaune.
Van Avermaet holds a massive 5:11 buffer at the top of the overall standings. How long does he think he can stay in yellow?
"The Pyernees will be too hard for me. But one day is enough, afterwards we'll see how long I can keep it."
You can read our brief report, with results and some photos right here:
Thanks to leading the breakaway over most of today's climbs, Thomas de Gendt pulls on the polka-dot jersey as leader of the mountains classification.
Want all the instant reaction from today's stage in one handy place? Look no further...
We grabbed a word with Richie Porte.
"The whispers were that he [Contador] wasn’t good and the guys smelt blood and went for him," says the Australian.
"I felt really good, personally. It’s a great day for the team, firstly but it’s also nice to get into the climbs."
Sagan swaps yellow for green
Alejandro Valverde was part of a fearsome Movistar outfit today, the Spanish team setting a searing pace on the climbs and putting lots of riders in difficulty.
“The team was phenomenal, we worked really well," said the Spaniard. "It was quite a demanding first day in the mountains. We wanted to accelerate the race to test ourselves and test our rivals.”
Have a read of Barry Ryan's full stage 5 report, peruse the full results, and have a flick through our photo gallery.
What's in store tomorrow?
Well, more undulating terrain but a quieter day from a GC point of view. Sprinters to the fore once again? Their teams will certainly have to work hard to make it so.
Contador fighting to keep his Tour alive
That's it from us for today. We'll have plenty of news and reaction coming soon on the site and we'll be back tomorrow morning for full live coverage of stage 6. Thanks for joining us today.
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