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Thursday, July 7, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Tour de France stage 5 reports

We posted the race organizer's stage 5 report with the results.

Here’s the report from stage winner Simon Clarke’s Team Israel-Premier Tech:

Simon Clarke made history on stage five of the Tour de France with a monumental win on the cobbled stage to claim the first Tour de France in the Australian’s career and the first for Israel – Premier Tech.

Clarke, who was a late signing to IPT in January, used his experience to nail his bike throw, winning by the narrowest of margins in the four-man battle from the breakaway after a brutal day in the saddle.

Simon Clarke wins a close one. Sirotti photo

“To be honest, to start with, I didn’t think I had won,” said Clarke. “I was still a long was behind Taco with only a few meters to go and I just threw the bike as hard as I could at that finish line. I still didn’t believe it until I saw the photo finish. What a day. I never expected to win a cobblestone stage. Especially because they only happen every four years or so. I am happy with any stage and just try to make the most of these opportunities. I came here to go in breakaways and today was the first day the team said “let’s go.”

IPT’s objective was clear in the race meeting this morning: have a man in the breakaway and Clarke was singled out as a rider to go for it. After a trio of riders went clear, Clarke took his chance with an attack from the peloton to bridge across and form the day’s six-man move inside the first hour of racing.

The peloton kept the breakaway close but once they reached the first of 11 pavé sectors, the chaos of the cobbles gave the breakaway the advantage and the gap grew to more than four minutes.

Clarke looked in control all day and as the breakaway tackled the final sector with a 50-second advantage, it was clear the stage winner would come from the then-four rider group with Clarke joined by Taco van der Horn, Neilson Powless, and Edvald Boasson Hagen in the finale.

After a late attack from Powless was brought back, Clarke jumped on van der Horn’s wheel in the final 200 meters and launched his sprint at the last moment, coming around van der Horn and throwing his bike to the line to secure the win by just centimeters.

“First, I thought we were going to get caught because there was a big push from behind and the gap came down quite a lot but I had hope because we had such a strong breakaway with guys like Taco van der Horn and Edvald Boasson Hagen and Neilson Powless. So I thought if there is ever a chance, then today is the day with this group.”

The emotion hit Clarke after the finish line as the magnitude of his win, having started the year without a team, sunk in.

“What a rollercoaster this year has been. But sometimes you don’t get the best out of yourself until you are put under extra pressure. I am an optimistic person and I try and always believe that things happen for a reason. This winter was a bit challenging but I found a solution and I promised to never look back and make the most of every opportunity and that’s what I did today.”

Meanwhile behind, Jakob Fuglsang put in a strong showing all day to finish in the GC group, 1:04 behind Clarke.

“I actually planned on going in the breakaway tomorrow but the team came to me today and said it would be good to have someone in the breakaway. Firstly, in case it stayed away and also to drop back and help Jakob in the finale. I heard he finished in the front anyway and I was able to race for the win so for Israel – Premier Tech, it’s a perfect day.”

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Here's the report from GC leader Wout van Aert's Team Jumbo-Visma:

The fifth stage of the Tour de France has not turned out the way Team Jumbo-Visma had hoped for. Due to a crash, Primoz Roglic lost two minutes on his nearest competitor. With the unfortunate Jonas Vingegaard in his wheel, Wout van Aert had to do everything he could to retain the yellow jersey.

The first crashes had already happened before the first cobbled sections. Van Aert crashed together with teammate Steven Kruijswijk. Fortunately, the duo managed to return to the peloton.

The stage’s second part began with eleven cobbled sections, including almost twenty cobbled kilometres. Despite most Team Jumbo-Visma riders riding in the front of the peloton, the team could not avoid mechanical and physical problems. Vingegaard had a mechanical issue, after which his teammates helped him back on the road. The Dane was forced to swap bikes and, surrounded by teammates, chase the competition.

Wout van Aert on the final cobbled sector with Thomas Pidcock and Geraint Thomas on his wheel. Sirotti photo.

Shortly after, Roglic - who appeared to be in good shape - crashed. The Slovenian could not avoid a crash due to a stray hay bale. The team leader put his dislocated shoulder back in place with his own hands. Then he, too, was forced to start the pursuit with the support of some of his teammates.

With Vingegaard in his wheel, Van Aert passed a large part of the peloton. By doing so, the Belgian personally saved his yellow jersey. He also saw Vingegaard limit the damage. Despite his physical discomfort, Roglic showed he is a real fighter by riding in the lead on the remaining cobbled sections. The Slovenian eventually finished just under three minutes behind day winner Simon Clarke, one of the riders in the early breakaway.

“Hectic days like today’s are also part of the Tour”, Van Aert said. “After my crash, I was terrified. Unfortunately, it was not the only bad luck for our team. It was chaos today. Yesterday we were fighting in front; today, we were forced to fight at the back. I am proud of the team’s fighting spirit. I did not expect to retain the yellow jersey. I wasn’t thinking about that at all on the road. Christophe Laporte and I stayed with Jonas. I think we fought back reasonably well. It was a real thriller, but not what we were hoping for.”

Van Aert’s efforts ensured that Vingegaard limited the damage to just a few seconds. “This is an incredibly disappointing day for us”, the Dane acknowledged. “Primoz and I both had quite some bad luck today. I got away with it thanks to the team’s great work. Primoz was a lot more unfortunate. The most important thing is that he is physically okay. We are still in the race. We will see what we can achieve in the mountains with this strong team.”

“I am happy that I was able to continue. I had to sit down to put my shoulder back. It was excruciating, but I know how to act in such a situation. I gave everything in the pursuit. I can’t blame myself and the team for that. Hopefully I will recover quickly from this. We continue to focus on our goals”, said Roglic.

Sports director Grischa Niermann also reviewed the situation. “It was not the best day for us. It started with Wout’s crash. It meant the run-up to the cobbles was not optimal. Jonas was then hit from behind and had some mechanical problems. The bike change didn’t go as planned, but unfortunately, we can’t change that. After we had recovered a little from the initial setbacks, Primoz, to make matters worse, fell over a bag of hay, swirling on the road. Due to his physical discomfort, it took some time before he could continue on his way. You can’t win 'em all, but it’s clear that this is not an outcome we can be satisfied with”, Niermann concluded.

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Here’s the report from GC contender Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates:

Tadej Pogačar closes the fifth stage of the Tour de France (Lille-Arenberg) in seventh place after 157 km and 11 sectors of cobblestones, a stage which took in much of the course of Paris-Roubaix.

The cobbles began at km 80 as the breakaway of 6 riders hit the first sector aggressively. Pogačar stayed at the front of the group, avoiding the many crashes that, together with punctures and mechanical problems, characterized today’ stage.

Tadej Pogacar of the final cobbled sector. Sirotti photo

At 20 km from the finish, the Slovenian attacked together with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo). The duo broke from the group, recovering more and more ground from the men in the break, without their pursuers being able to close the gap.

Stage victory played out in the final sprint among the fugitives of the day, with Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) taking the win.

The leader of UAE Team Emirates finished in seventh place, losing one position in the general classification, but gaining precious seconds on all his direct rivals.

Pogačar: “Today I feared all the things that didn’t happen to me in the end. The team supported me well in the first part of the stage, before the cobbled sectors, then I just tried to give my best by following Stuvyen and pushing on. It was a day in which we aimed to stay safe and defend ourselves, I also managed to get something out of it so I can only be positive about it ”.

Tomorrow the Slovenian will wear the white jersey as best young rider again. The sixth stage in and around the Ardennes, at 219.9 km, will have an uphill kick to the line.

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And here's the stage 5 report from Geraint Thomas' Team INEOS Grenadiers:

A trio of INEOS Grenadiers GC riders came through a tough cobbled stage five with their positions intact at the Tour de France.

Adam Yates is now joined by Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas in the top 10 overall, with the teammates sitting eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

Geraint Thomas at the rider introductions before the stage start. Sirotti photo

The team worked hard across a stage which included 11 cobbled sectors. Despite slipping back into a chasing group which included a number of key rivals, the trio were able to successfully limit their losses at the line and tick off a big day in the opening week. Thomas went down with 30km to go after a crash happened in front of him. Working with Pidcock, the pair battled back to the chase group.

Dylan van Baarle had found himself as the remaining rider in a select lead peloton but was unfortunate to puncture out of the lead group on the run-in.

Pidcock worked well alongside Jumbo-Visma in the chase efforts to bring back a gap of around 50 seconds to the front and a group which contained Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates). In the end the two-time defending race winner could only take 13 seconds on the group behind.

The day’s breakaway held on to claim the stage win, with Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) edging out Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) in the photo finish. Despite an early crash Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) retained the yellow jersey.

Geraint Thomas:
"To be honest I felt a bit sluggish to start with but then got into it. As soon as I got the the cobbles I felt good. As the sectors were going on and on I was starting to feel better. After sector six or seven I was surprised as there actually weren't many of us left.

"Then literally two minutes later a few of the Bahrain guys came down right in front of me. I almost missed it but I got taken out. Tom stayed with me and we were chasing back. I had no idea who was where and my rear mech was [damaged]. It was a case of just surviving really. Tom did a great job but there was 30km to go so there wasn't much we could really do. Vingegaard came up to us with two of his guys riding, so it was a case of handing on to them really. But as I say the legs were good - it's just a shame about the crash."

Adam Yates:
"We got through okay. I said that at the beginning, as long as we get through in one piece and don't crash and not lose any time then that's a good day. I think G crashed, so not a perfect day but we didn't lose much time. I think we can be pretty happy with that.

"On the cobbles it's not the hard bit to be honest. It's before and after. Before it's absolute carnage. I almost made the front but I got caught behind a crash.

"Yesterday was a real lung-buster and today the same. The race has really started now - tomorrow is a long stage and a bit tricky in the final. We'll see what happens."

Luke Rowe:
"It was a chaotic day. Maybe we exposed ourselves a little bit early but it was just crash after crash after crash - maybe that perspective didn’t come across on TV. It was a messy day.

"Heading into that second section we knew that was the critical point and if you got into the front there you’d stay at the front for a while. We committed heavily towards that.

"There’ll be a lot of sore boys out there, there was a lot of touch downs, but we went through the day relatively well."

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