Aru Soloes to Victory in Stage 5 of Tour de France
The first mountain battle between the general classification favorites in this year's Tour de France took place in stage 5 earlier today. Italian National Champion Fabian Aru accelerated on the final climb to La Planche des Belles Filles and left all other GC favorites behind.
The Astana rider won the short 160.5 kilometer stage in 03:44:06. Daniel Martin (QuickStep Floors Team) crossed the line 16 seconds later and Christopher Froome rounded out the podium for Team Sky Pro Cycling 20 seconds back, with Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) tailing closely behind.
The breakaway group of the day, which was destined to fail, included Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale), Mickael Delage (Team FDJ), Dylan van Baarle (Team Cannondale Bikes - Drapac), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep Floors Team), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) riding his last Tour.
With Team Sky remaining passive, the BMC Racing team worked hard to set a high pace at the front of the peloton in order to reduce the lead of the breakaway group before the final uphill kilometers. Their lead was quickly minimized and eventually a strong Sky team took over where BMC left off and rendered any remaining hope and fighting spirit within the breakaway group useless.
Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski delivered a strong performance at the front of the peloton before general classification favorites, such as Martin, Orica-Scott's Simon Yates and BMC's Porte, initiated their attacks.
Race leader and yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas received orders to ride in front of teammate and defending Tour de France champion Froome on the final climb. Thomas, therefore, lost valuable time in the general classification as the team's management chose to prioritize Froome over Thomas, despite Thomas' general classification lead.
Team Movistar's Nairo Quintana and Trek-Segafredo's Alberto Contador both lost valuable time in today's stage. Contador was fast at serving excuses to the media who waited for him in the finish zone after the stage. "I was not feeling so great today. The important thing for me was surviving the day. In the Alps there are stages that I like better,” Contador explained.
Porte wasn't completely pleased with his own performance today. "In the final there, Aru slipped away. I'm still happy with my ride for the first mountain stage. I kind of expected a little more but there's a long way to go. Chris Froome is obviously going stronger than when we saw him at the last race but I think Team Sky weren't quite what they were last year. Still, I think they have a lot of pressure coming up," Porte told Roadcycling.com.
Froome leads this year's Tour de France following today's stage 5. Thomas is 12 seconds behind and Aru 14 seconds. "It's an amazing feeling to be back in yellow," a smiling Froome said after being celebrated on the podium. "Having said that I know the race is far from over."
"As a team, we're in a great position – first and second. We can take confidence from that and it gives us options going forward in terms being able to play both cards," he added.
Thursday's stage 6 of the 2017 Tour de France is a 216 kilometer ride through varied terrain between Vesoul and Troyes, France. The stage should conclude with a battle between the remaining sprint aces in the peloton, but the tricky terrain will offer opportunities to sly riders looking to prove their luck in a breakaway.
Buy bikes and cycling gear in our road bike shop.