Since the start of this year’s Tour we have been waiting in anticipation for the potential epicness (there is no such word but I have just created it) of what would be Stage 5. Rain, cobbles, peloton jitters – BRING IT ON!

Froome Out!

I am not a big fan of the Froome-dog, as you can probably tell from previous articles in this blog. But that does not mean I don’t respect him. In a big way it is a shame to see the defending champion go out like this. We will probably never know, but he probably injured his wrist more heavily than was made public. To see him go down for the count twice in the wet before we hit the cobbles was… well sad.

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But in adversity there is opportunity. The other GC riders will be emboldened and the new up and comers like the Polish sensation Kwiatkowski (Omega-Pharma-Quickstep – this team name is far to long) or my dark horse for the overall, the American kid Talansky (Garmin-Sharp). For one rider in particular now is the time to shine. Step up to the plate please Richie Porte!

A Helluva Stage

A small breakaway of seven riders led by the none other than the Panzerwagen himself, Tony Martin (Omega-Pharma-Quickstep), made what would be a very smart move to get in front of the peloton and ride hard. I have no idea why the Panzerwagen doesn’t ride the Classics, but I suspect that ASO have banned him just in case he flattens out the cobbled sections with his power and speed. N.B. This is pure conjecture on the part of the author.

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The rest of the peloton was very nervous and as the incidents and roundabouts kicked in, the peloton broke down. Groups of riders formed to survive. The big GC contenders were hunting for their key domestiques to buddy up and try to survive. There was carnage! As they came close to the cobbled sections then the Classics boys came out to play, Spartacus (Fabian Cancellara – Trek), The Terminator (Peter Sagan – Cannondale), Vanmarcke (Belkin), Van Avermaet (BMC) all started licking their lips and hammering. The breakaway got caught up in the groups of chasers and Vanmarcke alongside his teammate Lars Boom looking set to steal the show until he… had a mechanical leaving Boom to ride on by himself. The biggest surprise was The Shark in yellow (Vincenzo Nibali – Astana) along with his teammate and super-domestique Jakob Fuglsang going out and trying to keep up with Boom, but then being satisfied with putting a big lead over all the other GC riders scrambling in their wake.

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Carnage

While I don’t like seeing riders go down, and I have enough scars on my body to demonstrate my own mishaps, this stage made for riveting sports drama. The quality of the riders who tumbled was most surprising, here is a smattering:

– Pinot (FDJ), great French rider

– Froome x2 and not even on cobbles, and so did his teammate Bernie Eisel

– Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp) while in the breakaway going down after he had a mechnical earlier on.

– The Gorilla (Griepel) – he is nervous…

– Démare (FDJ) – misfiring and nervous…

– Vanilla Ice (Kittel) – and he broke the pavement when he went down with his wide shoulders.

– Rojas (Movistar) – the Spanish bullet.

– Talansky – off the back of another rider from Lotto Belisol doing a forward somersault into a ditch in front of him.

– Heino Haussler (IAM) – and he loves riding in these conditions.

– Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale) – unlucky because he was going hard in the breakaway.

The Cannibal Welcomes a Boom

Not surprisingly the Cannibal, The Great Eddy Merckx, had to attend this race. I bet he was itching to get on a bike and smash them all on this stage. But the Badger, The Great Bernard Hinault, wouldn’t let him and told him he had to hand out flowers on the podium. There was nearly a punch up behind the podium between The Badger and The Cannibal, but Prudhomme (Race Director) chastised them both and told them to behave. N.B. This is all hearsay (i.e. likely made up by the author).

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The final group of Boom, followed closely by The Shark in yellow and his teammate Fuglsang absolutely hammered. Flying in at an average of 47km/hr Boom crossed the line gloriously for a well deserved win. The litany of GC riders tumbled through with a nervous Clentador being the biggest loser and falling well outside of the overall Top 10. This Tour is boiling now already in the first week – game on!

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One point of note, it is disappointing that Belkin, Boom’s team sponsor, have pulled out early. They are enjoying the spoils of some big coverage off the back of a stupendous effort.

The Cement Ladder – The Grey Jersey

Watching the toughest sportsmen in the world, I have decided to start a “cement” ranking that reflects truly great feats of endurance and the overcoming of pain (basically a bit of HTFU and a demonstration of adherence to Rule #5). Former winners include Jens Voigt (multiple times) and Johnny Hoogerland. Maybe ASO could make a special jersey, grey, for this category.

I could have dished out a bucket load of points for Stage 5, but the reality is that the distribution of available points was determined prior to the start of this race.

5pts – Boom, absolutely phenomenal ride in what would have to be the toughest stage I have watched in years.

4pts – Fuglsang, for dragging his teammate in Yellow to the line. It was also clear that on this stage he was stronger than The Shark.

3pts – Dumoulin, who in the breakaway had a mechanical then had to catch up in the wet the hard way and then stacked it too.

2pts – Lemoine, who pretty much rode by himself in the final kilometers to finish a respectable 10th for the stage and honouring the polka dot jersey.

1pt – Froome-dog, he respected the Maillot Jaune and rode on even though probably should have pulled out yesterday

 

The competition is certainly heating up, the current table is:

6pts – The Jensie (Voigt)

5pts – Lemoine, Boom, Kadri, and Barta

4pts – Bideau, Cheng, Panzerwagen (Martin), and Fuglsang

3pts – Dumoulin, Voeckler, and Spartacus (Cancellara)

2pts – The Shark (Nibali)

1pt – The Hornet (Horner), Froome-dog (now DNF)

 

For a more serious look at the first stage of racing check out.

Cycling NewsStage 5 Report

SBS Cycling CentralStage 5 wrapup

VeloVoicesTour Stage 5

N.B. the photos of the racing have been sourced from Cyclingnews.com and the copyright obviously remains with the copyright holder.