Wout van Aert can do it all
The Belgian superstar has been the dominant rider since racing returned after the coronavirus break, winning races of every description.
After winning on the gravel of Strade Bianche, the Jumbo-Visma talent went on to take his first Monument in Milan-San Remo.
He then showed his versatility in the Belgian National Time Trial Championships, with a convincing victory.
So far at the Tour Van Aert has taken on a very different role, as he has led the Jumbo-Visma across all types of terrain and was even an essential mountain domestique as his team-mate Primož Roglič rode on to victory on stage five.
No breakaway at the Tour?
Stage five marked a rare occasion in the Tour de France – a day with no breakaway .
The Tour is the biggest bike race in the world and every day is an opportunity, whether it’s to win the stage, take time on rivals, score some points, or even just get some exposure for your sponsors.
But on the mostly downhill run from Gap to Privas, not even the smaller teams were willing to jump clear of the bunch and the racing was subdued from kilometre zero.
In a Tour sold as one of the toughest editions in history, and with limited racing in the build-up due to the coronavirus pandemic, the peloton were clearly keen for an opportunity to take it easy before the real racing kicks in again on stage six.
And with winds predicted for later in the stage that could potentially spark action, teams may have been waiting for action to kick off at any moment, but as it happened the conditions came to nothing.
Inside the final 5km the winds did pick up a bit and Ineos Grenadiers did hit the front with Luke Rowe to try and cause splits, but despite a few stragglers losing touch the race didn’t explode in anyway real way.
But even after a hectic few days of racing, the lack of action on stage five was will a surprise are there are plenty of teams in the bunch with nothing to take away from the race so far.
The lack of breakaway split the opinion of cycling fans and pundits, with many calling the day boring while others understood why the peloton were less keen to race.
Let’s just hope this unofficial rest day allows for even greater fireworks later in the race.
A dramatic day for Julian Alaphilippe and Adam Yates
While the actual racing was extremely quiet, there were sudden rumblings of drama after the stage had finished as word emerged that Julian Alaphilippe may have lost the race lead due to a time penalty.
It soon became clear that Alaphilippe had indeed been handed a 20-second penalty for an unauthorised supply pick-up inside the final 20km of the stage, a move which is banned under UCI rules.
Reports have suggested that Alaphilippe took a bidon from a roadside helper around 17km from the line.
As a result the Frenchman lost the yellow jersey, which was instead handed to Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates.
The proceedings added some huge drama to what had been a very uneventful day, as Alaphilippe now slips back to 16th place overall, 16 seconds down on Yates.
A chance for injured riders to nurse their wounds
The first four stages of the Tour have taken their toll on the bunch, with dozens of riders hitting the deck early in the race, particularly in the nightmare weather on stage one around Nice.
An easier pace on stage five was even more welcome to those riders who have touched tarmac, as it was an opportunity to nurse their injuries in the hopes of recovering enough to put in a good showing later in the race.
Riders currently nursing injuries include Daniel Martínez (EF Pro Cycling), who crashed twice and lost time on only the second stage of the race, Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) who touched down multiple times on the first day, and Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb) who hit a barrier and destroyed his bike in the process on stage four.
With no attacks of note during the race, Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) was awarded the day’s combativity award for riding with a broken rib after a fall on stage one.
The points jersey battle between Sagan and Bennett heats up
Perhaps the most exciting sub-plot of this year’s Tour is the wide-open battle for the green jersey.
This year’s Tour doesn’t offer a huge number of opportunities for the pure sprinters, but there is always a goal to chase in the prestigious points classification.
The front-runners for this year’s green jersey are six-time winner Peter Sagan, stage winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett.
Out on the road, there was a fight for the intermediate sprint points with 135km still to race, with Ewan, Bennett and Sagan all pushing for the line.
It was Irishman Bennett who took maximum points and with that secured the virtual lead in the points classification from Peter Sagan.
But with the stage still on the line, the next wearer of the green jersey was still yet to be decided.
At the line, Bennett only managed third place but still finished one position ahead of Sagan which secured him the points jersey for stage five.
Bennett, who now leads on 123 points to Sagan’s 114, is also the first Irishman to wear the green jersey since Sean Kelly last donned the colours in the 1989 Tour de France.