Stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné delivered a real thriller towards Chaintré on Thursday. In this day theoretically made for the sprinters, the breakaway really made it hard for the bunch to come back, and was actually only caught a hundred meters from the line. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) then won the sprint and consolidated his yellow jersey. David Gaudu safely finished within the peloton and therefore kept his provisional twelfth place overall.
The peloton set off on Thursday towards Chaintré, in the Mâcon area, for the least difficult stage of the week on paper. Some therefore had the clear ambition to make it a proper bunch sprint this time, while many others were aiming to thwart the bunch’s plans like on day 2. A proper fight therefore occurred in the first thirty kilometres before a breakaway could establish itself. Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies), Jan Bakelants (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Sebastien Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) first took a gap, and were then joined by Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) and polka dot jersey wearer Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM). The peloton did not intend to play around, however, and therefore kept the five leaders under the three-minute mark. The group of five soon became a group of four after Pierre Rolland sat up following the second climb of the day. The bunch continued to get closer, so much that it came back just one minute away to the break with sixty kilometres to go. The breakaway then started to put on a fight, regained a two-minute lead, and several teams had to unite to close the gap. In the two climbs of the final, ridden at very high speed, the gap reduced a lot while the peloton lost many riders.
“The day went really well”, David Gaudu
Everything eventually came down to the last eight flat kilometres, and the pack got the better of the fugitives for just a hundred meters. Wout van Aert took the win in the sprint, while David Gaudu finished within the bunch surrounded by four teammates. “It was the kind of stage we imagined, with a tight finish like on the first two days, and with a very fast final”, summed up Thierry Bricaud. “The breakaway played a bit at first, and then it was difficult to catch them in this hilly final. The course was tricky in the last thirty kilometres, and we therefore had to remain in a good position in case of splits. The whole team recovered well after yesterday’s time trial, the guys perfectly protected David, and he never was in trouble. That was the main goal today. He remains in the mix for the general classification before the last three stages. Tomorrow, the breakaway should have another chance”. Twelfth overall, now 2’13 behind the Belgian rider, David Gaudu was also satisfied at the finish on Thursday. “It was a good day, which was still fast and nervous”, said the young man. “The team stayed focused all along next to me, and eventually, the day went really well”.