Michael Woods dominated the queen stage of the virtual Tour de France, winning up Mont Ventoux following his leg break at Paris-Nice earlier this year.
The Canadian hit out on the climb, taking NTT’s Domenico Pozzovivo and yellow jersey-wearer Louis Meintjes with him, before leaving them both behind to take a solo victory.
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NTT firmed up their lead in the general clasification, with Stefan De Bod also finishing fourth, the team riding side-by-side under the watchful gaze of Bjarne Riis.
Tomorrow’s final stage six will cap off three weekend’s of virtual racing, with the peloton arriving on a computer-generated Champs-Élysées for a final chance to take stage honours.
How it happened
‘La Reine’, or the queen stage of the virtual Tour de France, tackles a third category climb before heading up Mont Ventoux, finishing at a virtual Chalet Reynard. After an opening few kilometres of flat, the road heads uphill and doesn’t stop until the finish, with an average gradient of 4.9 per cent for the entire stage.
Ag2r La Mondiale’s Benoit Cosnefroy took the early intermediate sprint, before Alpecin-Fenix’s Jonas Rickaert was first over the summit of the third category climb.
Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) then attacked with 10km to go, Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard chasing hard behind, with Domenico Pozzovio (NTT) joining to make it a trio off the front, Bjaarne Riis standing, arms folded, in the background.
The three riders were soon caught by a talented chase group containing Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Eddie Dunbar (Ineos).
Bardet was then detached from the lead group due to the pace Woods was driving, the Frenchman picking up his phone to let his team-mates and sports director know.
The infernal pace being set by Woods shed most of the riders from the front of the race, with Pozzovivo hanging in there while NTT team-mate Louis Meintjes, wearing the yellow jersey on Mandela Day, fought hard to stay in contact.
The three up front were 43 seconds ahead of the rest of the field with 6km remaining, with NTT’s Stefan De Bod and Ben O’Connor in the second group alongside Eddie Dunbar, meaning Riis’ squad were looking good to firm up their lead in the overall classification.
Woods was still out of his saddle with 4.5km to go, readying himself for the battle against two riders from the same team to take stage honours.
Pozzovivo then launched his attack, the Italian briefly taking out a slight gap but putting Meintjes in trouble.
With 4km to go Meintjes had fallen away as Pozzovivo used a feather power-up to stay in contact with Woods.
500m later and Woods was gone up the road, pushing out 430w, at times 100w more than Pozzovivo was able to.
Woods had a nine-second advantage with 2.5km remaining, looking good for the victory and dropping a feather power-up to further his advances towards the summit.
Under the flamme rouge and Woods was assured of victory, also taking the combative prize for the day as he sailed across the line.
Virtual Tour de France, stage five: La Reine (22.9km)
1. Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling, in 46-03
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT, at 18 seconds
3. Louis Meintjes (RSA) NTT, at 50s
4. Stefan De Bod (RSA) NTT, at 1-17
5. Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally, at 2-15
6. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos, at 2-40
7. Ben O’Connor (Aus) NTT, at 2-57
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 3-49
9. Carlos Rodriguez (Esp) Ineos, at 3-57
10. Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, at 4-41
General classification after stage five
1. NTT (RSA) – 391 points
2. Rally (USA) – 219 pts
3. EF Pro Cycling (USA) – 175 pts
4. Trek-Segafredo (USA) – 171 pts
5. Israel Start-Up Nation (Isr) – 161 pts