Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) laid down a weighty marker at the Tour de France as he claimed victory in the stage 5 time trial to Laval. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) put up fierce resistance to retain the yellow jersey by 8 seconds, but it is clear that the road to overall victory at this race runs through the defending champion.
Pogačar made light work of the rolling 27km test from Changé to Laval, setting the best time at each of the intermediate checks and he clocked an average speed of 51kph as he beat European time trial champion Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) by 18 seconds.
At that juncture, Pogačar looked set to move into the yellow jersey to boot, but Van der Poel conjured up a fine finishing effort to finish 5th on the stage at 31 seconds, and thus hold onto the overall lead by 8 seconds.
While Pogačar missed out an early stint in the maillot jaune, he had the considerable consolation of gaining significant ground on all of the men with designs on wearing it in Paris. He picked up 44 seconds on his fellow countryman Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), 1:18 on Geraint Thomas (Ineos), 1:41 on Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), 1:43 on Richard Carapaz (Ineos), 1:48 on Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and 2:08 on Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar).
Just five days into the Tour, Pogačar already finds himself 1:36 clear of Carapaz, 1:40 ahead of Roglič and 1:46 up on Thomas. Last September, the youngster came from behind in the most dramatic of circumstances at La Planche des Belles Filles. This time out, the onus is on Roglič et al to conjure up a response once the race hits the mountains. On Wednesday’s evidence, it will not be straightforward.
“It was just a really good day today. I didn't do any mistakes,” Pogačar said. “It was perfect weather for me but sadly some guys went out on wet roads. Luckily I had perfect conditions and also the temperature for me was perfect. Today was a really good day for me.
"I checked the course. In the last few time trials I did mistakes because I started super fast. Here with little climbs, I started pacing myself pretty good and found a perfect rhythm until the end.
"The goal was not to lose time, but I gained time so I'm super happy. I'm just excited for the whole Tour. I would love to have the yellow jersey but Mathieu looks super nice, so it's fine.”
Van der Poel began the stage just 8 seconds up on Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and 31 ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), both of whom set out with realistic ambitions of moving into yellow. Neither Van Aert (4th at 30 seconds) nor Alaphilippe (14th at 1:11) ever looked entirely comfortable on the course, however, while Van der Poel strained every sinew to defend his lead.
The Dutchman was 7 seconds down on Pogačar at the first check after 8.5km and 22 seconds down at the second after 17km, but he did enough to finish the day in 5th on the stage, 30 seconds behind the Slovenian. He keeps yellow by 8 seconds, with Van Aert 3rd at 30 seconds and Alaphilippe a further 18 seconds back in 4th.
“I surprised myself today. I have to thank the team, we worked until midnight on the bike fit to try and get some more watts,” said Van der Poel. “I pushed myself beyond my limits, I am super proud of myself. I knew the last 2km were decisive. I had some left in the tank - I'm really proud of myself. I said yesterday I thought I would lose the jersey and it wasn't a lie. It's not my specialty but I've outdone myself today."
How it unfolded
While Van der Poel outdid himself, a number of general classification contenders were essentially riding within themselves, handicapped by the injuries sustained in crashes earlier in the week.
Roglič fell heavily in the fraught finale to stage 3 and he was clearly shy of his best here, even if he still produced a consistent display across the course to place 7th on the stage, 44 seconds down on the flying Pogačar. Last September, his Jumbo-Visma team looked to control the Tour. This time out, they will have to find a way to prise it open.
“It’s hard, definitely. All the time trials are always very painful, let’s say it like that,” Roglič said. “But I just missed some power. I really squeezed totally everything out of myself. I stand behind it and I’m super proud of myself.”
It was a similar kind of an afternoon for Thomas. This time trial should have been an opportunity for him to gain time on Pogačar et al, but after dislocating his shoulder on Monday, his expectations lowered accordingly. He took 16th on the stage, 1:18 down on Pogačar.
The early pace-setter in the hot seat was Pogačar’s teammate Mikkel Bjerg, who finished the stage in 11th place, but it was a more trying afternoon for another UAE Team Emirates rider, Brandon McNulty, who crashed heavily after a rain shower made the course treacherous in the middle of the afternoon.
Stefan Bissegger (EF-Nippo) narrowly avoided falling in that period, but the conditions had mercifully abated in time for the later starters. European champion Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) was already in the hot seat by then, and the Swiss rider must have thought he had done enough to win the stage when men like Roglič, Jonas Vingegaard (3rd at 27 seconds) and Kasper Asgreen (6th at 37 seconds) failed to better his time. His disappointment was palpable as he watched Pogačar flash across the line with the day’s best time. “I did a good performance, I did what I wanted but it wasn’t enough,” he said.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||0:32:00|
|2||Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||0:00:19|
|3||Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:27|
|4||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:30|
|5||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix||0:00:31|
|6||Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:37|
|7||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:44|
|8||Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:55|
|9||Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers|
|10||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech||0:01:00|
|11||Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates||0:01:01|
|12||Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo||0:01:07|
|13||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo||0:01:08|
|14||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:01:11|
|15||Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies||0:01:14|
|16||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:01:18|
|17||Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM||0:01:19|
|18||Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo||0:01:22|
|19||Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo||0:01:40|
|20||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:01:42|
|21||Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|22||Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis|
|23||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers||0:01:44|
|24||Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech||0:01:46|
|25||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo||0:01:47|
|26||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||0:01:49|
|27||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|28||Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash|
|29||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech||0:01:52|
|30||Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal||0:01:53|
|31||Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team||0:01:56|
|32||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:57|
|33||Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma|
|34||Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech||0:01:58|
|35||Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:02:00|
|36||Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious||0:02:01|
|37||Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:02:04|
|38||Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash||0:02:05|
|39||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious||0:02:07|
|40||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team||0:02:08|
|41||Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious|
|42||Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo||0:02:09|
|43||Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo||0:02:14|
|44||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|45||Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech||0:02:19|
|46||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:02:24|
|47||Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange||0:02:25|
|48||Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:02:29|
|49||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:02:31|
|50||Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo||0:02:34|
|51||Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:02:36|
|52||Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:02:38|
|53||Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious||0:02:41|
|54||Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo||0:02:45|
|55||Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech||0:02:47|
|56||Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:02:48|
|57||Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo|
|58||Jeremy Cabot (Fra) TotalEnergies||0:02:51|
|59||Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies|
|60||Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:02:56|
|61||Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:03:03|
|62||Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Team BikeExchange|
|63||Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis||0:03:05|
|64||Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team||0:03:07|
|65||Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|66||Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:03:08|
|67||Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:03:11|
|68||Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:03:13|
|69||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|70||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis||0:03:15|
|71||Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM||0:03:18|
|72||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:03:21|
|73||Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:03:22|
|74||Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM|
|75||Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|76||Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|77||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:03:24|
|78||Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix||0:03:25|
|79||Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:03:32|
|80||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team|
|81||Tony Martin (Ger) Jumbo-Visma||0:03:33|
|82||Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation||0:03:37|
|83||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM||0:03:41|
|84||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM|
|85||Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:03:42|
|86||Victor de la Parte (Spa) TotalEnergies|
|87||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|88||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:03:43|
|89||Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious||0:03:44|
|90||Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:03:47|
|91||Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:03:48|
|92||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|93||Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis||0:03:49|
|94||Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:03:51|
|95||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Qhubeka-NextHash||0:03:52|
|96||Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep|