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Tour de France 2017: Stage 5

In the middle of it all the arguments, a bike race may well break out, but at the start of stage 5 in Vittel, only one story dominates - Peter Sagan's expulsion from the Tour de France after his manoeuvre in the finishing straight of stage 4 brought down Mark Cavendish, an incident which saw the Manxman himself forced out of the race by injury.

There were breathless reports this morning that Peter Sagan's bike had been strapped to the roof of a Bora-Hansgrohe team car as if he was intending to defy the commissaires and try to take the start. The news brought back memories of rumours that Festina would take the start of the Correze time trial in the wake of their expulsion at the 1998 Tour. Instead, not altogether unlike Virenque in the back room of Chez Gillou - though minus the tears - Sagan made a short statement to the press outside the Bora-Hansgrohe hotel, where he confirmed that he would abide by the decision of the race jury, even if he didn't agree with it. His Tour is over, and his streak of consecutive green jerseys stops at five.

 

"What can I do? I can just accept the decision of the jury, but for sure I don’t agree with them because I think I didn’t do something wrong in the sprint," Sagan said. "What is bad is that Mark fell down and it’s important that he can recover well. I’m sorry for that. As you see can see on the internet, it was a crazy sprint. It is not the first one like that and won’t be the last one like that. So I wish to Mark to recover well and that’s it.” Stephen Farrand has the full story here.

 

Some shop-keeping before we delve further into the reams of Sagan analysis and reaction that have emerged overnight. Today's stage rolls out from Vittel at 13.10 local time, with the bunch due to reach kilometre zero for the official start at 13.20. There are two categorised climbs, the category 3 Cote d'Esmoulieres (2.3km at 8%)and the category 1 haul to the finish at La Planche des Belles Filles (5.9km at 8.5%), The first of three summit finishes at this year's Tour, it ought not to prove decisive but it could give us some very firm indications as to who will win this race in two-and-a-half weeks' time. On each of the Tour's previous visits, the man in yellow at the summit has carried the jersey all the way to Paris. Sky dominated in 2012, with Chris Froome winning the stage and Bradley Wiggins moving into yellow. In 2014, Vincenzo Nibali soloed to victory to move back into yellow, while Thibaut Pinot's second place augured well for his eventual podium finish in Paris. 

 

General classification ahead of stage 5:

1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 14:54:25
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:12
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 0:00:16
5 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:25
6 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:30
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 0:00:32
8 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 0:00:33
10 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb 0:00:34
11 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:37
12 Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:38
13 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:40
14 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
15 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:43
16 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
17 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:45
18 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott
19 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:47
20 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:48
 

 

Under normal circumstances, Mark Cavendish's abandon would be the news story this morning. The Manxman suffered a fracture to his right scapula, and while no surgery is required, he has, understandably, been forced to quit the race. "I'm obviously massively disappointed to get this news about the fracture," Cavendish said. "The team was incredible today. They executed to perfection what we wanted to do this morning. I feel I was in a good position to win, and to lose that and even having to leave the Tour, the race I've built my career around, is really sad." You can read the full story here.

 

Emotions were oscillating by the minute around the Dimension Data bus after the stage yesterday, but the coolest head seemed to belong to Cavendish himself, who was careful when he spoke to the press before undergoing the scans that would confirm his Tour was over. "I get on with Peter well but I don't get it... if he came across it's one thing, but the elbow... I'm not a fan of him putting his elbow in like that. I get on with Peter, a crash is a crash, but I'd just like to know about the elbow," Cavendish said, and you can read the full story here.

A quick perusal of Twitter suggests that there must literally be thousands of people out there who have participated in bunch sprints at the Tour de France at 70kph, and, what's more, they are all so generous as to offer their opinions in the most constructive and least strident manner possible. To spare you scrolling through them all, however, we've collated the thoughts of a selection of (actual) former Tour riders, who, for the most part, seem to think Sagan's disqualification was harsh in the extreme. You can read the full story here.

 

At least two former sprinters disagree with the consensus of their erstwhile colleagues, however: Tom Steels and Frederic Moncassin. Steels was, of course, ejected from the 1997 Tour for throwing a bidon at Moncassin during the infamous Marennes bunch sprint, where Erik Zabel was first across the line but declassified for an irregular sprint. Jeroen Blijlevens was awarded the win, but the headlines were all for Steels. Suffice to say, then, that the Quick-Step directeur sportif knows of which he speaks.... 

 

“Sagan’s arm movement is beyond the limit,” Steels told L’Equipe. “Sprinters are already in contact enough. We can’t accept these outbursts, it’s too dangerous. I was excluded in 1997 myself during my first Tour when I threw my bidon at a rider who shut me in. I was ashamed of it, but it served as a lesson to me.” 

 

Steels' old sparring partner Moncassin was in firm agreement. "The images speak for themselves," he said. "There shouldn’t even be a discussion, the exclusion is deserved. I don’t think it would be as debated as much if Nacer Bouhanni had committed the infraction. Sagan is the world champion but he has to respect the rules." Alessandro Petacchi, meanwhile, the gentleman sprinter, told L'Equipe that Sagan was hard done by, and pointed out that one A. Demare had veered across the road and almost taken out Bouhanni en route to victory. Petacchi was, as you might expect, not the the only man to spot what the commissaires apparently did not....

 

Arnaud Demare swept across the road in the final 150 metres and his change in trajectory ruined the sprint of his old foe Bouhanni. “It was a nervous sprint. I was in the ideal position in the final kilometres and I knew the finish by heart. But at 150 metres from the line, as I was on the wheel of Alexander Kristoff, Arnaud Demare cut me up and I touched his back wheel,” Bouhanni said. “At that moment it was over. If I didn’t brake, I’d have fallen.” You can read the full story here.

 

Mark Cavendish has spoken at the Dimension Data team bus ahead of the start in Vittel. Of Sagan's flick of the elbow, he says, "It doesn't look good," and adds that his lead-out man Mark Renshaw was ejected from the Tour for less in 2010. "Mark Renshaw got relegated [sic] for a headbutt when nobody crashed," Cavendish says. "I don’t hold anything against Peter. We have a good relationship. It’s just sad we’re both out of the Tour de France."
 

 

It's worth noting that the decision of the commissaires to exclude Sagan is based solely on his actions in the finishing straight, but as Greg LeMond has pointed out in Eurosport, one wonders whether Sagan's part in the crash on the run-in to the finish - where he seemed to barge between two riders - might have influenced the final verdict.

 

Chris Froome (Sky), meanwhile, has spoken to France Televisions on the incident just before the start. “It’s a very difficult decision for the commissaires, but at the end of the day it’s they who decide. For the race it’s a blow, losing Peter Sagan and also Mark Cavendish, but the race goes on," Froome said. “We have the maillot jaune in the team, so we can play off that a little – it’s for the others to attack today, not us.”

 

 

The peloton has assembled on the start line in Vittel, incidentally, and is about to begin navigating the neutralised zone before the official start.

 

As the peloton soft pedals out of Vittel, why not read Dan Benson's preview of today's stage to La Planche des Belles Filles, where, if history is a guide, Team Sky will look to lay down a marker. 

 

160km remaining from 160km

Race director Christian Prudhomme drops the flag at the head of the race and stage 5 of the Tour de France is officially underway.

 

Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) is immediately on the offensive. He is joined in this early move by Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step) and Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), but the peloton doesn't seem content to let them go.

 

A group of seven riders has a small lead over the peloton. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) sets the pace on the front, with Voeckler, Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) also aboard.

 

158km remaining from 160km

Just when it looked like Voeckler and company were simply going to ghost up the road, a BMC rider looks to bridge across and Luke Rowe is immediately onto his wheel.

 

157km remaining from 160km

Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Dylan van Baarle (Cannonale-Drapac), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) have established a lead of 15 seconds over the peloton, and it looks as though they have been granted their freedom.

 

155km remaining from 160km

The bunch spreads across the road and the eight men up the road continue to augment their lead, which now nudges above 45 seconds.

 

Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida) nudges past the phalanx of Sky riders at the head of the bunch and he accelerates in lone pursuit of the escapees. Luke Rowe waves a hand to tell his teammates not to bother chasing. The race has settled very early.

 

152km remaining from 160km

Voeckler, Gilbert et al have stretched their lead out to 2:22 over the peloton, which is being led by a soft-pedalling Team Sky. Grmay is sticking gamely to his task in the no-man's lead between the break and the bunch, but the escapees certainly aren't hanging around to wait for him.

 

150km remaining from 160km

Yellow jersey Geraint Thomas (Sky) takes advantage of the early lull to drop back to answer a call of nature. The break's advantage yawns out beyond three minutes and it still growing.

 

Brecht Decaluwe tells us that Sporza talked with UCI's president of the jury, Philippe Mariën, shortly after the announcement of Sagan's was made last nigt. "In certain situations the race jury can increase the punishment. This seemed like a just moment to do so," he said, describing Sagan's move as "very severe."

 

"We discussed for a very long time and it wasn't an easy decision to make. It wasn't about the rider but about what he did. We're at the start of the Tour and last week I warned the teams that we would study the footage in detail. That's what we did today. We're at the start of the Tour," Marien said. "Now we can mark out the boundaries and that's what we've done by this decision." He was also asked about the footage that seems to show that there first seems to be the crash and then the elbow. "There's not a lot of sprints where nothing happens. What happened today seemed intentional to me, and nearly seemed like hitting." Sporza's Renaat Schotte also asked about Démare's move that seemed to cut up Bouhanni. Marien's response? "Yes, but that seemed far less than what happened with Sagan."

 

145km remaining from 160km

Voeckler, De Gendt, Perichon, Boasson Hagen, Delage, Bakelants, Gilbert and Van Baarle have a lead of 3:34 over the peloton as they approach Le Parpari. 

 

Tsgabu Grmay is locked in conversation with his Bahrain-Merida team car, and it seems they have decided that the Ethiopian's attempt to bridge across is a futile one.

 

143km remaining from 160km

Grmay is three minutes down on the escapees. He has sat up and is waiting to be absorbed by the peloton.

 

BMC have joined Sky in keeping tabs on affairs at the had of the peloton, and the break's lead has stabilised at around the 3:30 mark. There is a lot of firepower and some decent climbing talent in this move, and the teams with designs on stage victory will be reluctant to let them disappear too far up the road.

 

139km remaining from 160km

Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step) has spoken to Eurosport on the Sagan incident, and the German is not exactly sympathetic to the world champion's plight. "For me it's a wake-up call for everyone else to respect the rules," Kittel said at the start. "Sagan has fans all over the world, and it means a lot when they throw him out of the race but it also means a lot to other riders that they know now these are the rules."

136km remaining from 160km

The eight leaders reach Claudon just ahead of the fastest predicted schedule with a lead of 3:36 over the peloton.

 

133km remaining from 160km

BMC are now lined on the front of the peloton setting the tempo, and the deficit to the break remains locked at 3:30. As the stage profile demonstrates, it's a rolling but gentle beginning to proceedings this afternoon, before the race reaches more rugged terrain after the sprint at Faucogney after 102 kilometres.

 

The Sagan story is the biggest of the week so far, but the most important is Pierre Carrey's interview with Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier in Liberation on Monday. Lecuisinier, you may recall, was junior world champion in Copenhagen in 2011 and winner of the prestigious Ronde de l'Isarde in 2012. He turned professional with FDJ in 2014 after a tug of love between Marc Madiot and Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. Last year, he agreed to wear a hidden camera as part of France 2's investigation into the activities of Bernard Sainz, better-known by his nickname of Dr Mabuse. Lecuisinier found himself without a team at the end of 2016. He started 2017 in the amateur ranks, but has since left cycling altogether. And still people wonder why whistleblowers are so thin on the ground in professional sport...

 

 

 

124km remaining from 160km

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) began the day 16 seconds down on the yellow jersey of Geraint Thomas, and is the virtual race leader. The peloton has shaved their lead back slightly to 3:15.

 

119km remaining from 160km

Still it's BMC who are massed on the front of the peloton, rather than the Sky team of the maillot jaune Thomas and defending champion Froome. After a disappointing outing in the opening time trial, it will be fascinating to see what Richie Porte manages on the final climb today. On the evidence of his season to date, it's one that ought to suit him, and his acceleration in the final at Longwy had the feel of a warm-up.

 

Another man with the pedigree to shine on La Planche des Belles Filles is Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors), though he was cautious due to the gentle approach to the final climb. “I’m unsure. I’m normally better when there are three or four climbs in a day,” he explained. “A one-off explosive effort, even with my traits, I’m normally good at an explosive effort, but it’s normally after 260 kilometres at Liege so that one-off climb is a bit unknown. But, we will see, we’ll do our best and if I can be there in the finish then it suits me for the sprint.” Sadhbh O'Shea has the full story here.

 

 

112km remaining from 160km

The break's lead drops beneath three minutes. It's been a brutally rapid start to proceedings. Some 48 kilometres have been covered in the first hour of racing, and this effort is going to tell come the end of the day.

 

Fabio Aru (Astana) begins the day 52 seconds down in 25th place overall, but the Sardinian will expect to have scaled the rankings by the top of La Planche des Belles Filles. It's been a curious season for Aru, who abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico in mid-March and didn't race again until the Dauphine in June after sustaining the knee injury that kept him out of the Giro d'Italia. Aru had, however, begun his season very well with a fine second place at Green Mountain at the Tour of Oman, and his form in recent weeks suggests he can be a factor in this Tour despite his disappointing debut of a year ago. Today's climb could well suit Aru. "It’s going to be an important test, we’ll have to be ready," Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I haven’t tried the climb but I’ve seen it on a few different videos and it’s been explained to me well."

 

105km remaining from 160km

Danilo Wyss sets the tempo on the front for BMC. Their efforts have pinned the break's lead back to 2:35.

 

101km remaining from 160km

Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) drops back to the race doctor's car and receives some spray to his elbow, perhaps for some insect bites. The German does not seem to be in any undue distress in any case.

 

98km remaining from 160km

Stefan Kung is prominent in setting the tempo for BMC at the head of the bunch, and the break's lead has been clipped back further to 2:15. 

 

When Voeckler, Gilbert and company slipped clear so readily in the opening kilometre, they might have expected to continue adding to their advantage deep into the final 100 kilometres, but BMC's very brisk pace-making has keep them a tight rein on them. Although the terrain is not obviously difficult in the opening half of the stage, the roads in this area of France are heavy, and deceptive false flats abound. The road will seem all the heavier under the weight of BMC's sustained pressing.

 

All local eyes this afternoon will be on Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who hails from nearby Melisey, where his father Regis is the mayor. Pinot, still feeling the effects of his fine 4th overall at the Giro d'Italia, has come to this Tour targeting stage wins rather than the overall, and he deliberately coughed up three minutes on Monday with that in mind. Before the Tour began, however, he suggested La Planche des Belles Filles - a climb he scales "ten times a year" in training - comes a shade too early in the race, as he eases back into action after the Giro. "It comes a bit too early after the Giro to hunt the stage win, I think. I rested a lot and trained, but most of all resting. I'm feeling average. I lack training and rhythm," Pinot said. "Maybe after a week of racing, I'll go better. The stage on Sunday [stage 9] is monstrous. It's the first real rendezvous, and a breakaway really stands a chance."

 

 

85km remaining from 160km

A reminder of the names in the break as we reach Luxeuil-les-Bains: Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Dylan van Baarle (Cannonale-Drapac), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal). They maintain a lead of 2:15 over the BMC-led peloton.

 

82km remaining from 160km

BMC continue their pace-making in the peloton, and the break's lead drops to inside two minutes. 1:48 the gap.

 

The bunch's passage through the feed zone arrested their progress slightly and the gap has nudged back north of two minutes. The speed is still high, however, with the peloton strung out into a long line. The road grows more arduous as the day progresses, and this pace should take its toll.

72km remaining from 160km

BMC remain fixed to the front of the peloton, but there is a sizeable delegation from Team Sky lined up behind them, with Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome both well-placed. We're 14 kilometres from the sprint at Faucogney and the category 3 climb of Cote d'Esmoulieres follows almost immediately afterwards.

 

The eight escapees are sticking gamely to their task at the head of the race, but even at this early juncture, they must know they are fighting a losing battle. The gap lingers around the two-minute mark as BMC maintain their rhythm at the head of the peloton.

 

The always excellent Marina Hyde has written a most incisive column in the Guardian on Dave Brailsford's rather confident response to the complaints of rival teams over Team Sky's skinsuits in the opening time trial: "The problem with Dave’s relentlessly 'business as usual' approach is we all know rather more about how he does business than we did last year. So incomplete and incompetent has the response been, even before parliament, that for many it is now utterly impossible to utter the phrase 'marginal gains' without reflexively adding sarcastic air quotes." You can read the full piece here.

 

60km remaining from 160km

2:08 the lead for the escapees as they enter the final 60 kilometres of the stage and approach the intermediate sprint at Faucogney.

 

58km remaining from 160km

The eight riders fight out the sprint for the points, with Edvald Boasson Hagen claiming the decision ahead of Philippe Gilbert. Back in the main peloton, the lead-out has begun for the sprint for 9th place.

 

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) beats Kittel, Kristoff and the green jersey Demare to 9th place. In Sagan's absence, the Australian is perhaps the favourite for the points classification, at least based on his ability to pick up points in the parts of the race the other sprinters simply cannot reach.

 

The injection of urgency in the peloton for that sprint has seen the break's lead drop a little more, to 1:40.

 

55km remaining from 160km

The escapees hit the Cote d'Esmoulieres with 1:35 in hand on the peloton. Mickael Delage (FDJ) is dropped as the gradient begins to bite and Voeckler forces the pace. 

 

Thomas De Gendt is the next man to be distanced under the weight of Voeckler's forcing. Six riders remain in front.

 

Bakelants attacks from the break with 500 metres of the climb remaining, and he opens a small gap. Voeckler was leading the chase initially, but he has swung over to look for help.

 

53km remaining from 160km

Bakelants is first to the top of the Cote d'Esmoulieres. Perichon leads the rest of the break - minus De Gendt and Delage - over the summit around 10 seconds later.

 

BMC still lead on the climb, and while their speed has hardly been hyperactive on the ascent, a number of riders, including Andre Greipel and Olivier Le Gac, are in difficulty at the rear of the peloton.

 

Delage is swept up by the bunch near the summit. The break's deficit has stretched out to 2:50, proof that there was a drop in intensity on the ascent.

50km remaining from 160km

Bakelants has persisted in his effort over the top of the climb, and he remains 14 seconds clear of Voeckler, Perichon, Boasson Hagen, Gilbert and Van Baarle.

 

47km remaining from 160km

Thomas De Gendt is caught by the main peloton, while Bakelants has been rejoined by Voeckler, Gilbert, Van Baarle and Perichon at the head of the race.

 

43km remaining from 160km

BMC remain firmly in place at the head of the peloton. This has been quite a statement of intent from the Swiss team, who clearly believe Richie Porte can claim stage victory this afternoon and strike a blow against Froome after his relatively disappointing outing in the opening time trial.

 

37km remaining from 160km

Gilbert drives on the front of the break. The six men in front maintain a lead of 2:40 and the faintest illusion that they might hold off their pursuers. The final climb is 5.9km in length and begins with brutal sections of 13%. And that comes after an unclassified, climbing preamble. The Tour won't be won today, of course, but it would a surprise is a big name or two isn't exposed all the same.

 

The average speed has been a very brisk 44.88kph thus far, while temperatures have been touching 35 degrees Celsius for much of the afternoon. Small wonder that when Thomas Voeckler takes bidon from his team car, he immediately unscrews the cap and dumps the contents over his head. 

 

32km remaining from 160km

The pace has been high in the peloton, but credit is due, too, to our escapees, who have enjoyed precious little let-up all day long. 2:35 he gap.

 

France Televisions reports that the heat this afternoon is such that the commissaires will allow bottles to be passed up to riders until the final 12.5 kilometres. 

 

27km remaining from 160km

Will the combination of speed and heat provoke larger than normal gaps on the short, sharp final climb to the La Planche des Belles Filles? BMC have scarcely relented all day. They set the pace, Sky sit on the wheels behind them. Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet sit tucked in a little further back.

 

25km remaining from 160km

A reminder of the situation with 25 kilometres to go: Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Dylan van Baarle (Cannonale-Drapac), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) hold a lead of 2:20 over the peloton, which is being led by BMC. All of the GC contenders are still together in the bunch, and the final haul to La Planche des Belles Filles begins with 5.9km to go, even if the road starts to climb almost three kilometres earlier.

 

A reminder, too, that Peter Sagan is no longer in the Tour de France after his part in yesterday's finishing straight crash that brought down Ben Swift and John Degenkolb, and ended Mark Cavendish's race. "If I'm honest it takes a lot of courage, a lot of balls to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France, and I commend the jury on taking a decision that wasn’t based on influences from social media or outside," Cavendish said this morning. "Philippe Marien, he's relegated me in the past, whether I think I'm right or wrong, the rules were there and if I break the rules I get relegated. But I know definitely when those incidents are made you can't doubt them." You can read the full story here.

 

21km remaining from 160km

The leading sextet are 2:10 up on a peloton, where a delegation from Trek-Segafredo is moving up and bringing Alberto Contador into position for the final salvo on La Planche des Belles Filles.

 

20km remaining from 160km

The run-in to the foot of La Planche des Belles Filles is a rugged one, and a number of fast men have been distanced from the rear of the peloton already, including Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel and Jacopo Guarnieri. They will look simply to make it home inside the time limit.

 

19km remaining from 160km

A phalanx of Astana riders move up the right-hand side of the bunch and brings Fuglsang and Aru into position towards the front. More sprinters are dropped off the back, including Bouhanni.

 

18km remaining from 160km

Delegations from BMC and Astana sit at the front, with Sky tucked in just behind. 1:50 is the gap to Voeckler et al at the head of the race.

 

16km remaining from 160km

The road rises and dips constantly en route to the base of La Planche des Belles Filles, and plenty of riders are hanging on for grim life at the back of the bunch as the speed continues to ratchet upwards. 1:45 the gap to the break.

 

15km remaining from 160km

Astana and BMC remain at the head of the peloton on opposite sides of the road. The long, hard lead-out to the base of the final climb is in full flight.

 

14km remaining from 160km

Perichon, Gilbert, Voeckler, Bakelants, Boasson Hagen and Van Baarle continue to exchange turns on the front and they maintain a lead of 1:35 over the peloton.

 

BMC have lost a few of their number on this run-in to the base of La Planche des Belles Filles, but Porte still has bodies around him. Froome remains ensconced in a collection of Sky riders that includes Thomas, Mikel Landa and Kwiatkowski.

 

13km remaining from 160km

Philippe Gilbert attacks from the break and opens a small gap. Bakelants and Voeckler lead the chase.

 

Perichon is dropped definitively, his day at the front over. Voeckler, too, is beginning to struggle, leaving just Bakelants and Gilbert at the head of the race.

 

12km remaining from 160km

Bakelants and Gilbert have a lead of 1:17 over the peloton, still being led by BMC. 

 

11km remaining from 160km

More and more riders are shelled from the rear of the peloton on the unclassified climb past La Chevastraye. The bunch is down to around 100 riders.

 

10km remaining from 160km

With 10 kilometres to go, Gilbert and Bakelants are 18 seconds clear of Voeckler and Boasson Hagen, while the bunch is at 1:23.

 

Perichon rejoins Voeckler and Boasson Hagen, but one senses that the break's efforts will be a mere footnote by the top of La Planche des Belles Filles...

 

8km remaining from 160km

At the unofficial beginning of the final climb, Gilbert and Bakelants have 1:23 in hand on the bunch. The gradient kicks up in earnest with 5.9km to go.

 

8km remaining from 160km

Orica-Scott take over at the front, with Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves in mind. Four BMC riders sit on their wheels, including, of course, Richie Porte.

 

7km remaining from 160km

A kilometre from the beginning of the climb in earnest. Sky take over in the main peloton, 1:08 down on Bakelants and Gilbert...

 

6km remaining from 160km

The trains of Sky and Movistar set a hyperactive pace in the peloton as they hurtle towards the base of the climb proper. They are 57 seconds behind the two leaders.

 

5km remaining from 160km

Bakelants and Gilbert begin the climb of La Planche des Belles Filles with a lead of 52 seconds on the main peloton.

 

Perichon and Voeckler dance away from Boasson Hagen as the climb begins. Back in the bunch, meanwhile, Quick-Step have taken up the reins with Dan Martin in mind...

 

5km remaining from 160km

Bakelants and Gilbert struggle on the 13% slopes, and their lead over the bunch drops to 33 seconds, as Sky take over once again.

 

5km remaining from 160km

Kwiatkowski sets a fearsome pace at the front of the peloton for Team Sky as rider after rider is dropped from the rear of the bunch as the gradient bites.

 

5km remaining from 160km

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is dropped as Sky and QuickStep force the pace. There seem to be around 50 riders left in this yellow jersey group.

 

4km remaining from 160km

Voeckler, Boasson Hagen and Perichon are caught by the bunch. Bakelants and Gilbert remain in front, just 25 seconds ahead.

 

4km remaining from 160km

Kwiatkowski continues to lay down the pace in the peloton, his jersey flapping in the wind. Sergio Henao is behind him in the Sky train. It's beginning to look a lot like business as usual...

 

4km remaining from 160km

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) tilts at the windmill with a game attack. For now, Sky are content to leave the Frenchman to it.

 

4km remaining from 160km

Gilbert and Bakelants' course has nearly run. Their lead is down to just 7 seconds. Warren Barguil (Sunweb) has been jettisoned from the back of the reduced peloton.

 

4km remaining from 160km

Gilbert, Bakelants and Calmejane are all swept up by the Sky-led peloton, Bakelants and Gilbert throw an arm around one another's shoulders in thanks.

 

3km remaining from 160km

Henao takes over for Team Sky. This is brutal. 40 or so riders are struggling to hold the pace laid down by Team Sky as the gradient bites once more.

 

3km remaining from 160km

This is brutal. 40 or so riders are struggling to hold the pace laid down by Team Sky as the gradient bites once more. Kwiatkowski has put in a remarkable stint of pace-making.

3km remaining from 160km

Fabio Aru is near the front but his face betrays signs of suffering as Kwiatkowski gives way to Mikel Nieve at the head of the race.

 

3km remaining from 160km

Mikel Nieve makes a further injection of pace. Sergio Henao, Thomas and Froome are lined up on his wheel. Porte, Contador, Quintana, Aru and Bardet are among those behind the Sky train.

 

2km remaining from 160km

Only 15 or so riders remain in touch with the Sky train. Mollema and Latour are among the latest to be dropped. 

 

2km remaining from 160km

Fabio Aru launches a vicious acceleration from the yellow jersey group and he has opened a sizable gap. There is no reaction from Sky and Aru is almost 100 metres clear.

 

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Nieve still leads the yellow jersey group. Aru's lead is growing...

 

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Simon Yates is the next rider to attack. He opens a small gap that Geraint Thomas has to close...

 

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Fabio Aru has a lead of 18 seconds over the reduced yellow jersey group as Yates is pegged back.

 

1km remaining from 160km

Froome takes up the chase, and only Porte, Martin, Bardet, Quintana and a couple of others can match his surge...

 

Quintana and Contador have been dropped. Only Martin, Bardet and Porte stayed with Chris Froome...

 

1km remaining from 160km

Aru has a big lead as he enters the final kilometre. Dan Martin accelerates to try to reduce the gap, but he swings over and asks Porte to come through.

 

This is an absurdly strong attack from Aru, who is still accelerating and seems to be stretching out his lead as the chasers watch one another.

 

Contador and Yates have caught back up to the Froome group, but Aru is out of sight and destined for stage victory...

 

Fabio Aru (Astana) wins stage 5 of the Tour de France.

 

Dan Martin (Quick-Step) clips away to take second place, 16 seconds down. Chris Froome (Sky) outsprints Richie Porte (BMC) for third. Froome looks set to take the maillot jaune this evening.

 

Aru wins, Martin second at 16 seconds. Froome and Porte were 20 seconds down. Bardet took 4th at 24 seconds. Yates, Uran and Contador lost 26 seconds. Quintana struggled but limited his losses to 34 seconds, while Geraint Thomas was 10th on the stage, 40 seconds down on Aru.

 

Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) lost more than two minutes. Thibaut Pinot concedes more than four.

 

Result:

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 3:44:06 -
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:16
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:20
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:20
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:26
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:26
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:26
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:34
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:40
11 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:40
12 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:40

 

Chris Froome takes over the maillot jaune, 12 seconds of Thomas and 14 clear of Aru, who has marked himself out as a genuine threat considering the dearth of time trialling miles to come. Dan Martin is 4th overall at 25 seconds, while Porte lies 5th at 39 seconds.

 

General classification:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 18:38:59
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:12
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:14
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:25
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing 00:00:39
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:00:43
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale 00:00:47
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:52
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:54
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:01

 

 

Fabio Aru (Astana) claims his first victory at the Tour de France to go with his mountaintop wins at the Giro and the Vuelta. "I’m amazed. I attacked with three kilometres to go and gave it everything. I wanted to see who would moved because Team Sky was setting a fast pace. I wanted to see what they had," Aru says. "The final 300 metres were terrible but then when I looked back with 200 metres to go, I knew I’d got it. Winning in the tricolore jersey is a huge satisfaction. I had a very difficult spring but luckily, with a lot of hard work, things started to go my way."

 

An Astana rider wins on La Planche des Belles Filles in the Italian champion's jersey for the second successive time. Can Aru match Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 and wear yellow into Paris?

 

The men who moved into yellow here in 2012 and 2014, Wiggins and Nibali, each carried the jersey to Paris. Can Froome match them? It's been a first summit finish that has provided more questions than answers.

 

"I’ve won stages at the Giro and at the Vuelta, I was only missing one at the Tour de France," says Aru as he waits to mount the podium. "Vincenzo is a friend and I’m happy to win here like he did in 2014. Watching him win on videos helped me know how to ride the climb."

 

Aru may also have settled the leadership question at Astana this afternoon. Fuglsang lost 1:07 on the stage and is now 15th overall, 1:33 behind Froome and 1:19 behind Aru.

 

Dan Martin (Quick-Step) impressed and moves up to fourth overall after his second place on the stage: "I’m gutted to not win again, but we’re getting closer. It was a really good performance. It was just unlucky that Fabio got a gap there, he was super strong. I think he made a really good moment to attack. It was really hard when he attacked and I think he chose the moment well. I thought with the flat section maybe he’d come back. In the end we looked at each other, and there was a bit of hesitation and tactical, and he got a bigger gap. I thought it was closing down in the finishing straight, but it wasn’t to be."

 

Chris Froome (Sky) speaks after moving into the yellow jersey. "When Aru went I stayed with my teammates, waiting for the others to attack, but nobody moved. So I thought ok, we’ll have to go, what can I do? Then there was a flatter part, and it was there we maybe waited for too long. Finally, the last part was very hard, and Martin went away very quickly," says Froome, who says he will ride to defend his jersey. "I’m going to do everything to keep the yellow, but only got a small advantage, and it’s a long way to the finish. I haven’t raced much this year, I’m fresher at this part in the season and I hope in the third part of the Tour get better."

 

 

Richie Porte (BMC) speaks. "I’m happy with my ride for the first mountain stage. I kind of expected a little more but it’s a long way to go," says Porte, who evinced a certain surprise at Aru's display. "I mean, he’s incredible. In the Dauphine he was there but hardly figured. He’s obviously going well. I think he’s going to have more pressure on him now. We saw last year he took up and then exploded on one of the last stages so I think I tip my hat to him today, it’s a good ride, but I think there’s a little more pressure on him now." 

 

Result:


1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 3:44:06 -
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:16
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:20
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:20
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:26
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:26
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:26
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:34
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:40
11 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:40
12 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:40

 

General classification:


1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 18:38:59
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:12
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:14
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:25
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing 00:00:39
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:00:43
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale 00:00:47
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:52
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:54
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:01

 

An exhausted Dan Martin shortly after the finish line atop La Planche des Belles Filles.

 

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) lies 6th overall and moves into the white jersey of best young rider, a title won by his twin brother Adam a year ago. "I always try. There's not many summit finishes this year at the Tour and I think you've really got to take every opportunity. Of course there's a lot of strong guys still not really that far behind me so it's going to be difficult to try to keep a hold of it, but I'll give it my best shot," Yates says. "I have to be cautious. Always on the front foot. Never try to get caught out. There's a lot of intermediate stages, maybe some wind and I'm only a small guy, so it's difficult for me to be there with the big guys fighting it out in the crosswinds or whatever. But we have a great team for that and I'm sure the guys will look after me as well as possible. I'll just try my best."

 

Chris Froome is currently in his press conference near the finish line. We will have the full story in due course.

 

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) on his day: "Today the important thing was to save the Tour because I was not very well. It is true that there have been differences and that is never good but we have saved the day more or less and now we have another two days to keep getting ready."

 

Result:

1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 3:44:06 -
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:16
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:20
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:20
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:26
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:26
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:26
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:34
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:40
11 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:40
12 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:40

 

General classification:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 18:38:59
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:12
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:14
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:25
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing 00:00:39
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:00:43
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale 00:00:47
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:52
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:54
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:01

 

Thanks for following our live coverage on Cyclingnews this afternoon. A full report, results and pictures are available here. We'll be back with more live coverage from stage 6, and in the meantime, you can find all the news and reaction from La Planche des Belles Filles on Cyclingnews.

 

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