Preceded and followed by summit finishes, the Tour de France’s stage 5 between Gap and Privas looked like a perfect transition day. For the most part, it was indeed. The riders may have even been surprised with how peaceful the stage started, as a breakaway never formed. Therefore, the bunch calmly rode towards the finish line before a more intense finale. Wout van Aert eventually won the sprint while Thibaut Pinot completed the stage without any trouble. The Frenchman is 13th overall before the unprecedented summit finish on Mont Aigoual on Thursday.
“We knew it would be calm, but maybe not that much”, Thierry Bricaud
On Monday, the bunch found a single, brave rider to spend the day in the front. On Wednesday, it found none. The stage then unfolded without a breakaway, and the archives came to lack to find a trace of such a singular situation. It did happen today and the bunch thus remained very, very calm for about a hundred kilometers on French roads. “We’ve had four difficult first stages and everyone was probably tired,” explained Matthieu Ladagnous at the finish. “There are also four difficult stages left before the rest day and two tough weeks after that. If we can get some calm days, we are not going to say no. Apparently, everyone was fine with it as there was no breakaway”. “We weren’t expecting a big fight, we’re not fooled,” continued Thierry Bricaud. “We knew it would be calm, but maybe not that much. Anyway, we saw that all the teams were united after this tough start to the Tour, and that many teams and riders needed a rest. At the end of the day, it was not illogical to witness such a stage either.”
With sixty kilometers remaining, the tension increased a little as a more windy section was lying ahead. The Groupama-FDJ team positioned itself at the front “to avoid getting trapped,” said Thierry Bricaud. The headwind kind of calmed down everyone but the tension still remained until the finish. “It’s always difficult, because not much, if anything, happens for a hundred kilometers, but you know that a lot can occur in the last hour of racing. There can be crashes, accidents … It was no fun in the finale although the stage looked like a recovery day for a long time”. On the finish line, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took the win from a reduced bunch. Thibaut Pinot finished without any trouble, in 31st position, but also moved up one place overall as a result of the twenty-second penalty imposed on the (former) yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe for forbidden feeding in the last twenty kilometers.
“Mont Aigoual is another important test”, Thierry Bricaud
Thibaut Pinot is now 13 seconds back on the yellow jersey prior to the second Tour’s summit finish, an unprecedented one at Mont Aigoual (8.3 km at 4%), which will be preceded by the steeper Col de la Lusette (11.7 km at 7.3%). “Tomorrow is obviously another important test,” concluded Thierry Bricaud. “There will probably be more moves than yesterday at Orcières-Merlette, especially since the yellow jersey has changed. Yesterday it was more of an observation round between the main leaders, although the speed was very high. Tomorrow, we may see the first attacks amongst the favourites. That being said, it’s more of a stage where the favourites can lose time if they’re not having a good day. It still isn’t a playground to create big gaps. It will be like yesterday, but surely with a little more se