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Tour de France 2019: Stage 5

Good morning. The first week of this Tour de France isn't simply a succession of sprint stages. After Elia Viviani's win yesterday, we head straight for the Vosges mountains in north eastern France. We know all about tomorrow's brutal stage finishing on La Planche des Belles Filles, but first we have this rather more subtle affair, which could go any number of ways - breakaway win, reduced bunch sprint, small group sprint, solo win... even GC action cannot be totally ruled out. 

We're in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, where the sun is out and the riders are signing on ahead of the start of the stage. They'll be rolling out at 13.15 local time, with the stage proper to be waved underway 10 minutes or so later. 

 

 

Here's a closer look at the stage profile. It's undulating for the first half but things get serious with around 70km to go. The combination of the Côte des Trois-Epis and the Côte des Cinq Chatueax form a rollercoaster ride, with a 10km run-in to Colmar ensuring suspense until the last. 

 

 

The pure sprinters are unlikely to survive this, meaning we're looking at the likes of Sagan, Van Aert, Matthews, Van Avermaet, and, yes, even the maillot jaune himself Alaphilippe. However, this could just as easily go the way of a breakaway, and we are sure to see a big fight today to make it up the road. 

 

Before we get going, here's what happened yesterday. Report, results, photos, highlights video... it's all in the link below. 

 

Tour de France: Viviani gets his win on stage 4 in Nancy

 

Here's the man in yellow: Julian Alaphilippe. Many are questioning how long he can hold onto the maillot jaune. Many are also questioning whether he'll now ride to defend the jersey, or whether he'll continue to show the same sort of attacking verve that netted him it in the first place. 

 

The riders are rolling and heading through the neutralised section.

Here's how the GC stands after four stages

 

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 14:41:39
2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:20
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:25
4 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:40
6 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:00:45
8 Enric Mas (Spa) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:46
9 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 0:00:51
10 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First

 

We're off!

 

Christian Prudhomme emerges from the sunroof and waves that flag. We are racing. 

 

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) immediately accelerates away. Don't say you're surprised. 

 

The Belgian breakaway specialist is joined by riders from AG2R, Katusha, Sunweb, DiData, Trek, and Total Direct Energie. 

 

It's Oliver Naesen for AG2R, Ben King for DiData. It's a strong move but there's no let-up behind. 

 

EF Education First obviously want to be in there - they're chasing this down. 

 

It's Lilian Calmejane for Total and Jasper Stuyven for Trek. Looks like Mads Wurtz Schmidt for Katusha and Chad Haga for Sunweb. So yeah, pretty strong. 

 

171km remaining from 175km

EF fire a rider over but it's still full gas at the head of the peloton. 

That's it. All over. Bahrain drag it back and the peloton is back as on. Now for round 2...

 

De Gendt goes again!

 

It's lined out behind De Gendt but no gaps at the moment. This could go on for quite a while.

 

Chad Haga rides behind De Gendt, Nils Politt (Katusha) looks interested, too. Rohan Dennis is up there for Bahrain.

 

A lull and now a bigger acceleration. But it does nothing more than string out the bunch once again. 

 

Politt, those teeth somehow still shining bright on the sunniest of days, is on the move now. 

 

CCC send a rider to join and now Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), wearing the polka-dot jersey, attacks in pursuit. 

 

That's three. Anyone else? Yes, AG2R ping a rider up. Looks like Gougeard at first glance. 

 

It is Gougeard, and it's Lukas Wizniowski for CCC, but it's coming to nothing. As you were. 

 

It's still fluid, with brief accelerations and mini moves, but nothing getting away for now.

 

AG2R are determined here, and it looks like Cosnefroy on the move for them. De Gendt is on the case.

 

They're joined by Jan Tratnik (Bahrain) and are away as a trio for now, but they haven't got much of an advantage.

 

De Gendt has to go wide through a right-hander to avoid a traffic island. That knocks a little momentum off but they're starting to pull away now. 

 

Cosnefroy, De Gendt, and Tratnik have around 10 seconds but they're not being allowed away. Total Direct Energie aren't letting this go.

 

155km remaining from 175km

More attacks now and the front of the peloton stretches and fragments. The leading trio are almost caught. 

 

Back together again.

 

Almost immediately, the dice is rolled again, this time by Katusha. EF, and Trek send someone to follow.

 

This could be it. The peloton has bunched up and knocked it off. 

 

Wellens followed that counter and is up the road. This is going clear.

 

It's Schmidt again for Katusha, Toms Skujins for Trek, and Simon Clarke for EF.

 

151km remaining from 175km

So four riders up the road, with 30 seconds and counting...

 

Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin)

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)

Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo)

Simon Clarke (EF Education First)

 

Wellens stands to extend his lead in the mountains classification, which he earned with his breakaway effort two days ago. There are two Category-2 and two Category-3 climbs today, so a maximum of 14 points on offer.

 

Here's how it currently stands:

 

1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 7 pts
2 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert 3
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 2

 

Of the quartet, Clarke is the best placed on GC. He's 73rd, 5:04 down on race leader Alaphilippe. 

 

Peloton, "Wellens, yes. De Gendt, no."

140km remaining from 175km

The breakaway aren't having this easy. The gap rose to two minutes but then stabilised and has now started to come down, as Bora-Hansgrohe set a strong tempo on the front of the bunch. 1:40 as it stands. 

 

The latest episode of our Tour de France podcast is out. We discuss Viviani and his future, Alaphilippe, Sagan, and look ahead to La Planche des Belles Filles. 

 

Tour de France podcast: Viviani victorious as Thomas eyes first mountain summit

 

136km remaining from 175km

The four escapees are a couple of kilometres away from the first climb of the day.

 

Côte de Grendelbruch

Category-3

3.4km

4.9%

 

The leaders are on the climb and Wellens is doing a fair bit of work on the front. 2 points on offer at the top.

130km remaining from 175km

The breakaway riders reach the top of the climb and there's no contest for the points. Wellens leads as they hit the KOM line and the others are happy with that. 

129km remaining from 175km

Bora, with Burghardt on the front, lead the peloton over the climb, two minutes behind. 

 

As they take on an interrupted downhill section, the peloton up the tempo again and begin to close the gap to the break. It's down to 1:30 now.

 

Important to note there's an intermediate sprint coming up at kilometre-71, so in just under 20km time. Sagan will be keen to pick up points there to extend his lead in the points classification. Sunweb are also working on the front now and they have Matthews third in those standings. 

 

Lance Armstrong has opened his mouth again...

 

Lance Armstrong: I'd have won the Tour de France if everyone was clean

 

117km remaining from 175km

The gap continues to fall. 1:10 now as Bora crack on. 

 

109km remaining from 175km

Bora move aside and the gap goes back out again. 1:40 now. 

 

The breakaway will stay away to the intermediate sprint, which they'll reach in a few kilometres. There are points on offer for the first 15, so plenty on offer for Sagan and co from the peloton. 

 

Here's how the points are distributed:

 

20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

 

World champion Alejandro Valverde has to stop for a bike change. He'd already stopped a few minutes ago for a new wheel but that obviously didn't do the trick. 

 

Time for the intermediate sprint, and Clarke skips away to collect maximum points. No real contest from the other three. 

 

Here comes the peloton. This sprint is on a lightly uphill section.

 

Oss leads it out for Bora. Bahrain are keen too.

 

Richeze comes through to lead out Viviani....

 

And Viviani gets there first, ahead of Sagan and Matthews.

 

100km remaining from 175km

100km to go and the gap between the breakaway (Wellens, Schmidt, Skujins, Clarke) have a lead of 1:54 over the peloton.

 

How far can Julian Alaphilippe go at this Tour de France and future Tours? Barry Ryan delves in...

 

No limits on Alaphilippe at the Tour de France

 

89km remaining from 175km

The gap has moved back out to 2:15. Sunweb are working on the front of the peloton for Matthews. We're around 15km from the foot of the Côte du Haut-Koenigsbourg, the second climb of the day, and the first of the two Cat-2 ascents. 

 

Viviani said he owed yesterday's victory to his teammates, but he's leaving Deceuninck-QuickStep at the end of the year. Rumours have swirled in recent weeks but both he and QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere have confirmed the exit. Full story here.

 

QuickStep have now sent Viviani's lead-out man Max Richeze up to help pull the peloton along. Kasper Asgreen would probably doing that work on a day like today but the Dane is still recovering from a very nasty crash on stage 3.

 

Here's how Asgreen's bike ended up as a result of that crash, by the way. Goodness knows how he came away relatively unscathed. He had to undergo two concussion tests before being declared fit to continue. Details here

 

 

Bora, QuickStep, and Sunweb are trading turns on the front of the bunch and the gap to the four leaders remains stable at 2:18.

 

The quartet have come into Orschwiller and will soon be climbing the Côte du Haut-Koenigsbourg.

 

71km remaining from 175km

The escapees hit the climb. Here are the stats

 

Côte du Haut-Koenigsbourg

Category-2

5.9km

5.9%

 

Caleb Ewan is already right at the back of the peloton.

 

The four leaders are trading turns. Wellens is arguably the strongest climber but it's a solid group. Skujins thrives on hilly terrain, and Simon Clarke has been quality in the last couple of seasons, notably finishing on the podium at Amstel Gold Race in April. 

 

The first sprinter is dropped; Ewan loses contact with the back of the bunch. A teammate drops back to help him along but if he's already getting dropped here then it's fair to say he stands no chance of being in contention at the end of today's stage. 

 

The leaders come towards the top of the climb and Wellens is set to take the points again.

 

Again, Wellens takes them over the top and no one dares to challenge him. Another five points for the Belgian, who extends his lead in the mountains classification and will be wearing the polka-dots again tomorrow. 

 

Burghardt is still on the front for Bora as the peloton comes to the top of the climb. 

 

And they come over the top 1:40 in arrears, so the pace has picked up a little.

 

Ewan follows over the top half a minute or so later. He has Maxime Monfort and Roger Kluge with him now and he should get back on before the start of the next climb...where he'll probably get dropped again.

 

Here's a shot of our breakaway

 

 

119km remaining from 175km

A reminder of the stage profile. A flatter section now but things will intensify with the Trois Epis - Cinq Chateaux combination of climbs.

 

 

Over in Italy, Annemiek van Vleuten has followed up yesterday's summit finish stage win with victory in the stage 6 time trial. Again, it was an utterly commanding display, and she now leads the race by more than four minutes...

 

Giro Rosa: Van Vleuten wins stage 6 time trial

 

Mechanical for Dan Martin, whose teammates are quickly on the case to get him going again and help him back to the bunch.

 

Richeze waves his arms in remonstration at Burghardt. The German had upped the tempo and actually opened on a gap on an uphill section. The QuickStep man isn't best pleased. 

44km remaining from 175km

All friends again in the peloton and they trail Wellens, Skujins, Schmidt and Clarke by 1:35. 

 

We're now just a few kilometres away from the foot of the Côte des Trois-Epis, and that has sparked some life into the peloton. Team Ineos have come through to the front of the peloton. 

 

This is not really a GC day, as such, but it's one where the yellow jersey hopefuls need to be on their toes. And that's why we're seeing Ineos looking to hold a good position heading into this crucial phase of the stage.

 

40km remaining from 175km

1:24 is the gap as the leaders head onto the climb. 

 

Here are the details

 

Côte des Trois-Epis

Category-2

5km

6.7%

 

Plenty of riders getting dropped already as the peloton hits the climb. Greipel and Kristoff have lost contact.

 

Up front, Schmidt is unable to hold the pace of Skujins, Clarke and Wellens.

 

Christophe Laporte and Caleb Ewan are dropped as well. Viviani too.

 

Simon Yates is dropped, losing time again and saving as much energy as possible for the final week.

 

37km remaining from 175km

Skujins attacks!

 

The Latvian champion had just piled on the pressure and now finds another gear to kick away from Wellens and Clarke.

 

The bunch has thinned out markedly here.

 

Asgreen has taken up the reins for QuickStep. Bora and Sunweb still helping to dictate the pace.

 

Schmidt is caught by the rapidly advancing peloton.

 

Asgreen continues the charge and the peloton are now just 1:10 behind Skujins, with Wellens and Clarke in between.

 

35km remaining from 175km

Wellens has attacked Clarke and trails Skujins by 13 seconds. Clarke is back at 35 seconds,.

 

Skujins is nearing the summit.

 

34km remaining from 175km

Skujins crests the Trois-Epis and takes a lead of 15 seconds onto the descent. Wellens will hope he can regain contact ahead of the final climb. It looks done for Clarke. 

 

34km remaining from 175km

The peloton heads over the top of the climb, with the gap down to 55 seconds. 

 

The bunch is down to around half capacity.

 

It's a 7km descent to the foot of the next climb, and Skujins is taking it better than Wellens. 25 seconds is his lead. Clarke is at 42 seconds but the peloton are still coming closer at 51 seconds. 

 

Wellens is resigned to his fate and sits up. Skujins isn't giving up, though, and is cutting the sharpest lines through the bends on this descent, tucking down on his top tube on the straight sections. 

 

Wellens is joined by Clarke, and the peloton are right behind them. 

 

27km remaining from 175km

Skujins is holding off the peloton at 52 seconds but the road flattens out and he faces a tough couple of kilometres before the start of the next climb.

 

There's a split towards the back of the bunch as they themselves hit the flat.

 

Skujins' lead is down to 40 seconds in the blink of an eye. 

 

Alaphilippe spots a shortcut as they take on a left-hand bend and suddenly the maillot jaune is fifth place in the peloton. He doesn't seem to have much support but has slotted in behind Sunweb. 

 

Skujins hits the Côte des Cinq Chateaux (hill of the five castles). It's a less regular climb, with a small dip down even, and so there are some significant gradients to make it an average of 6.1%.

 

 

Côte des Cinq Chateaux

Category-3

4.6km

6.1%

 

23km remaining from 175km

Skujins takes a lead of 18 seconds onto the climb.

 

Boasson Hagen is back in the cars. It seems he's had a mechanical problem. 

 

Sagan will be happy to sprint from this group, but who's going to go on the attack on this final climb?

 

Boasson Hagen is flying up past the dropped riders, but has no teammates with him and this effort is really going to cost him and pretty much strip him of the hopes he had of winning this stage, which suits him pretty much perfectly. 

 

Sunweb continue their team charge and they're baring down on Skujins.

 

Sunweb have four riders at the head of the bunch, followed by Alaphilippe and Sagan.

 

22km remaining from 175km

Skujins is caught, so we have a heavily reduced bunch heading up the final climb and down towards the finish.

 

Ilnur Zakarin is dropped. He's not looking good at this Tour. 

 

2.5km from the summit and still Sunweb in command. This is an impressive display as we find Alaphilippe without teammates in the immediate vicinity. Dries Devenyns should be around, and obviously their GC rider Enric Mas, but the rest of QuickStep have been dropped. 

 

Plenty of GC contenders making sure they're well towards the front of this bunch, just in case.

 

Boasson Hagen is still chasing at 35 seconds. He's not giving up, and that's a commendable effort. There's still a descent and then 10km of flat, so it's not over, but he's using up his resources.

 

20km remaining from 175km

Sunweb are down to three. Alaphilippe still sits just behind, with Ineos in formation a little further back.

 

Into the final 500 metres of the climb and no attacks coming. 

 

Xandro Meurisse quietly clips off the front of the bunch to grab two KOM points, having already earned some on the opening day.

 

The bunch begins the descent of just under 10km. 

 

Boasson Hagen is now a minute down. 

 

Ineos move up with Castroviejo. Thomas is third wheel in that train. Sunweb are running parallel on the right-hand side of the road. 

 

Matteo Trentin, who has been open about his deficiencies when it comes to positioning, moves up onto the wheel of Matthews. 

 

16km remaining from 175km

This is a tree-lined descent, with areas of shade alternating with glare on the road from the sunshine. It's a country road but not too narrow, though it's sinuous. 

 

Alaphilippe moves to the front, cutting past Sunweb and getting into that aero tuck.

 

Sunweb take it back up. Trentin in second place, Alaphilippe third, as the descent continues. 

 

They hit 75km/h as the road opens up. A couple of kilometres to the bottom.

 

13km remaining from 175km

Boasson Hagen has come back to 45 seconds. 

 

Alaphilippe once again shows his descending skills, coming through to pole position once again, tucked down onto his frame.

 

11km remaining from 175km

Sunweb take it back up, with Ineos making no mistake and keeping Thomas and Bernal right up there.

 

10km remaining from 175km

The road flattens out and we're heading for a sprint from just under half a peloton. No big lead-out trains - this is going to be scrappy. 

 

Boasson Hagen is not throwing in the towel. He's giving it everything as he comes to the foot of the descent. He's continuing to close in...

 

The pace is not so high in the peloton. Sunweb are just keeping it ticking over, and Boasson Hagen is about to get back in. 

 

Just as he's about to make contact, Valgren drops back for him. Bit late for that...

 

8km remaining from 175km

Anyway, Boasson Hagen is back in contention, but how much does he have left? 

 

Rui Costa attacks!

 

7km remaining from 175km

The former world champion senses the lull in the pace and takes a flyer. Can he spring a surprise? It's a huge ask, and he needs a breakdown behind. 

 

6km remaining from 175km

Costa has a small lead but the bunch aren't panicking behind. Sunweb barely change their pace.

 

Sunweb have three riders on the front. Behind them it's Ineos with five. 

 

Costa has opened a lead of 12 seconds. They're just letting him hang out there. 

 

5km remaining from 175km

Costa passes under the 5km-to-go banner with a lead of 13 seconds. 

 

This is how the last 5km look

 

 

Bora come through now to help Sunweb. And the pace is taken up a notch. 

 

Costa still has 13 seconds as he digs in and gives it everything. This is a good effort, and there are just 3.5km to go. 

 

Sunweb lose numbers now, and Jumbo-Visma suddenly look well represented.

 

3km remaining from 175km

3km to go. Costa has 10 seconds but is fading.

 

A lone Sunweb rider on the front now as the big names start to position themselves. 

2km remaining from 175km

Costa is slipping now and he's not going to stay away.

 

2km remaining from 175km

 Costa is caught.

Who's going to take this? 

 

Sagan, Matthews, Trentin, Van Aert, Van Avermaet, Alaphilippe all in contention. 

 

Trek take it up now. Stuyven is their card.

 

And now Bahrain lead into the final km.

 

Mohoric on the front for Bahrain. Trentin on the wheel. Here we go.

 

Impey takes it up to lead out Trentin

 

But here comes Sagan...

 

Sagan takes it! 

 

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 5 of the Tour de France

 

Strong sprint from Sagan, who silences the doubts. Impey led it out but when Trentin went right, Sagan went left and surged clear before moving back to the middle. Van Aert had a good go on the right and took second place, with Trentin taking third place directly behind Sagan. 

 

After all that work from Subweb, Matthews started his sprint too far back and couldn't contend, placing 7th.

 

 

That's Sagan's 12th Tour de France stage victory, and it sees him extend his lead in the points classification for what could be a record-breaking seventh green jersey.

 

Top 10

 

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 4:02:33
2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
8 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
9 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
10 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep

 

General classification after stage 5


1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 18:44:12
2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:14
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:25
4 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:40
6 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:00:45
8 Enric Mas (Spa) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:46
9 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:50
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 0:00:51

 

Let's hear from the winner

 

"You just have to be patient and the victory will come. I have to say thanks to all my teammates, they did a very great job. Finally a Tour de France victory came for us, it's very nice. We controlled the race all day, on the flat part until the finish.

 

"I did my best and it came. If I don't win, then everybody will ask me what is missing. You can see, nothing is missing. It's just everybody needs good luck and a good day for a win."

Here's our stage 5 page, for all your report/results/photos needs...

 

Tour de France: Peter Sagan wins stage 5

 

Another day in yellow for Julian Alaphilippe.

"My first goal was to protect the yellow jersey and to arrive safe," he has told ITV in the mixed zone. "I tried to be in a good position for the sprint, but in the end I just finished in the group. I’m really happy to have another day in yellow."

 

As for tomorrow's brutal stage: "For sure it will be an important day for the GC riders. Everyone wants to try something, and yeah, for me also I will try to do my best to keep yellow, but for sure it will be hard."

 

 

Geraint Thomas has said tomorrow's crucial stage and its summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles is better suited to his teammate Egan Bernal. That and more in our round-up of the post-stage reactions. 

 

Tour de France stage 5 finish line quotes

 

Here's Skujins, who earned the combativity prize.

 

 

Dan Martin says tomorrow could be the hardest stage of the whole race

 

"Today was about saving as much energy as possible. Hitting those climbs today was a good little taster for the legs," he told ITV. "Tomorrow is a really big stage. It’s going to be a really hard day – possibly the hardest of the Tour – and everyone will be fresh and explosive."

 

As for that mechanical and the moment of panic: "My gears just stopped working and I had to change bikes. The guys were great, they were right there. It was almost the worst moment of the race – two minutes later would have been the worst moment. Jasper [Philipsen] was incredibly strong, Vegard [Stake Laengen] was there and Sergio [Henao], too – we didn’t even need him but they brought me back to the front. It was a good team effort and hopefully that’s the end of my mechanicals."

 

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