Boom Wins Stage 5 of Tour de France; Nibali Extends Lead
Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France was expected to be a stage that might eliminate a contender or two through a crash, a puncture, or a mechanical problem. No one, however, expected the cobbles, the rain and Astana to turn the race on its head. That is what happened today, though. The rain and pave eliminated defending champion Chris Froome (Sky), while Astana shepherded maillot jaune Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) to third place in today’s rolling, 152-km ride from Ypres, Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. Lars Boom (Belkin) won the stage, with Nibali’s teammate Jakob Fuglsang finishing second at 0:19. The maillot jaune has extended his lead over his major competitors.
Because of rain in northern France, race organizers shortened the stage three km and two sections of cobbles. Before the start, King Philippe of Belgium, five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx, and former Belgian premier Yves Leterme paid tribute to those who were killed in World War I. At the end of the neutral zone, Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Simon Clarke and Mathew Hayman (both from Orica-GreenEdge), Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp), and Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r-La Mondiale) went off of the front.
The rain created chaos. Forty minutes into the stage, Froome hit a pylon on a paved stretch of road. He toppled to the ground and suffered bruises. Four teammates towed him back to the bunch. Ahead, Martin and Acevedo crashed. Martin got back on with Dumoulin, who had punctured, while Burghardt and Acevedo dropped back to the peloton.
With 100 km left, the break led the bunch by 1:34. NetApp-Endura, Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Astana, and Movistar led the pursuit. Seven km later, the escapees’ advantage was 2:43.
More crashes occurred. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), and Matthew Busche (Trek) crashed, but all three remounted and chased. With 75 km remaining, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) crashed at a roundabout, and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Vasili Kiriyienka (Sky) went down at another roundabout a few minutes later. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) hit the deck as well. All of this mayhem occurred before the race reached the cobbles.
With 67 km to go, Froome crashed again, and his third crash in two days was enough. The Briton, who wrist was in a splint because of a Stage 4 mishap, held his left arm gingerly, shook his head, and hobbled into the Sky team car. Richie Porte took over as Sky captain.
Cannondale led the field onto the cobbles. The peloton split on the Carrefour de l’Arbre section, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Nibali, and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in the first group and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), among others, in the second group. Valverde (Movistar) had fallen off of the pace, and his teammates had dropped back to assist him. Ahead, the break was down to six riders—Westra, Martin, Hayman, Dumoulin, Gallopin, and Clarke.
Contador dropped out of the Nibali group, which was 28 riders strong with 40 km remaining. Among them were Bauke Mollema, Boom, and Sep Vanmarcke (all from Belkin); Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol); Richie Porte (Sky); Talansky (Garmin-Sharp); and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). This group trailed the break by 0:54 while leading van Garderen by 0:20 and Contador by 0:50.
Van den Broeck crashed, and Talansky went off of the road. Boom and Vanmarcke attacked and had 0:17 between themselves and the Nibali group with 35 km left. The Contador group was at 1:46. The break was down to five members because Westra sat up and waited for Nibali.
Fuglsang and Westra propelled the chase group for their teams. The break was reeled in with 28 km to go, and a lead group formed that consisted of Nibali, Fuglsang, and Westra (all from Astana); Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis); Sagan (Cannondale); Boom and Vanmarcke (both from Belkin); Kwiatkowski, Mark Renshaw, and Matteo Trentin (all from Omega Pharma-Quick Step); Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol); Cancellara (Trek); and Clarke, Hayman and Keukeleire (all from Orica-GreenEdge). This group led Talansky by 1:20, with Contador and van Garderen at 1:40. Eight km later, Boom and Sagan attacked, but the pair was caught quickly.
Vanmarcke, Gallopin, and Clarke dropped off of the pace, and with 17 km left, 12 riders were in Nibali’s group. Soon after, the group was reduced to 10, as Hayman and Renshaw were dropped.
The lead group split, and Boom, Nibali, Westra, and Fuglsang were in the first group, with Kwiatkowski and Sagan attempting to get back on. Behind, Geraint Thomas and Porte (both from Sky) attacked from Contador’s group, which was at 2:00, and joined the Talansky group. With 10 km left, the lead group consisted of Nibali, Westra, Keukeleire, Fuglsang, Boom, Cancellara, and Lemoine.
Boom attacked, while Westra towed Nibali over the cobbles. The pair finished at 0:19.
What had happened was a massacre. Kwiatkowski was the first GC hopeful to cross the finish line after Nibali, and he ceded 0:48 to the Italian. Van Den Broeck finished 1:43 behind the yellow jersey, with Porte riding home at 1:52. Talansky finished 2:03 behind Nibali, and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Rui Costa (Movistar), and Valverde were 2:09 behind the Astana man when they stopped the clock. Contador was 2:35 slower than Nibali.
According to Westra, the day’s success occurred because of a good plan that was well executed. The team was completely at Nibali’s disposal. “The plan from the morning was to go in the breakaway to take pressure off the team,” the Dutchman said. “We are here to support Vincenzo 150 percent, and in the cobbles it takes a team working together to have a good result.”
In the overall, Nibali leads Fuglsang by 0:02 and Sagan by 0:44. Stage 6 will take the riders off of the cobbles. The rolling, 194-km ride from Arras to Reims should end with a cavalry charge. Can anyone in this Tour outsprint Kittel? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!