Tour de France Stage 5 Preview

The cobbled stage, the pavé of Paris-Roubaix meets the Tour de France and this time the defining feature is the severity of the sections. There are two races today, one for the stage win and the other against disaster for the GC contenders.

Cape Canaveral: NASA has Cape Canaveral as its launch site, Jumbo-Visma picked Cap Blanc-Nez for theirs. Ineos and Jumbo-Visma led into the final climb and, using the corners into the climb and then the slope, split the field. For a moment Wout van Aert, Primož Roglič, Jonas Vingegaard were riding away with Adam Yates, Dani Martinez and Geraint Thomas. But the pace set by Nathan “Space X” Van Hooydonck and then Tiesj “Saturn V” Benoot and was so much that Roglič cracked, then Thomas and soon Vingegaard until Van Aert was away solo. It was an astonishing ride, yes going into the climb first meant the bends made those behind struggle but he just rode away from the entire Tour de France field.

The rest of the stage wasn’t too much to write home about. Magnus Cort went clear again, this time he had Anthony Perez for company but Perez was powerless to stop Cort from taking many more mountains competition points. Even Perez said he was surprised nobody else joined them, adding that Cort’s presence might have deterred others given the Dane is too good for these uphill sprints.

Van Aert now leads on GC by 25 seconds and has a 61 point lead in the points competition already, a whole sprint stage win clear already. Christophe Laporte sprinted to third place yesterday to mop up some points. This lead in green, already, is consequential as it’ll free him up for more team work for his GC leaders* in the Alps and Pyrenees.

  • *GC leaders as in plural by the way because it was noticeable that Roglič was floundering today, although if he was visibly in difficulty… many rivals weren’t even in the picture. Roglič started the final climb further back. Vingegaard also was in the red when if he could have stayed with Van Aert he’d have had a taxi ride to the finish and a lead on his rivals

The Route: 153km from Lille to Arenberg. This is not Paris-Roubaix because it isn’t a 250km slog, but there are more similarities than ever. The Tour has long used cobbled sectors when visiting the Nord. In 2014 and 2015 the race had 13km of pavé, in 2018 there was 21km but the sectors have often been more gentle ones. But today has 18km and some of the sectors are very hard with rougher cobbles. Like Paris-Roubaix, ASO have given the 11 sectors star ratings and today there are two two star sectors, the rest are all three and four stars.

All the sectors come in the second half of the stage. It begins with a three star sector and then a 16km breather before a two star sector starts an intense section of the race. As ever the cobbles are tough but the winning move can equally go on tarmac when riders are gasping for air.

The Finish: the Pont Gibus pavé section and then it’s onto the tarmac in Wallers and the same roads used in Paris-Roubaix on the approach to Arenberg and the finish is outside the old mining complex.

The Contenders: Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuinck) has been targetting this stage for a long time and he’s free to race while others have GC leaders to tow around. His biggest worry ought to be himself, he’s prone to biting off more than he can chew sometimes, when racing is, as Hennie Kuiper quipped, “licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own”. Jasper Philipsen is in great shape too and more than sprinter, he can thrive today while other sprinters struggle.

Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) have been working together in the sprints and can do the same today, perhaps this time Pedersen can take a turn for Stuyven.

Who’d bet against Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)? He’s also on team duties but if offence is the best form of defence then he could well try to tow his GC leaders clear and then go for the stage win along the way. Christophe Laporte is also looking very handy right now.

Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) is riding well and an outside pick but Van der Poel and Van Aert are eating his lunch these days.

Florian Sénéchal (Quick-Step) is the local pick and he packs a good sprint but not one where you’d count on him to smoke MvdP or WvA. Quick-Step can try to revert to their numbers game and fire riders up the road with Yves Lampaert and Kasper Asgreen as cards to play but they’re even slower in a sprint.

Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) is in great shape but how to win, his rare road race triumphs tend to come in the rain as well and he’s on duty for David Gaudu. This is true for many other GC contenders, Nils Politt (Bora-hansgrohe) could barge clear for the win but is surely on hand as a bodyguard for Aleksandr Vlasov. Stefan Bissegger had a shocker in Copenhagen and packs a decent sprint but is he helping Uràn and Powless today? Ineos have a strong team but Filippo Ganna could be on team duties, likewise Dylan van Baarle who’d prefer a 250km course too so perhaps Tom Pidcock can play the joker card?

Finally never say never for Tadej Pogačar (UAE) who many see as capable of winning Paris-Roubaix one day so he can thrive today too. But Mikkel Bjerg was dropped yesterday when he should have been a precious ally. Either the Dane is saving energy to be even more useful today or Pogi is in trouble when it comes to support.

Mathieu van der Poel
Wva, Sagan, Laporte, Pedersen
Philipsen, Sénéchal, Stuyven, Lampaert, Pidcock, Bissegger

Weather: DRY. Mainly sunny, 23°C and 15km/h breeze from the NW

TV: there’s a long neutral section and the racing starts at 2.00pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.25pm CEST. The first pavé comes around 3.45pm, tune in ahead of this to watch the contest for position.

Pavé or not to pavé? The use of Paris-Roubaix’s cobbles during the Tour often sees reheated debates about whether the stones have their place or not in the Tour de France: you can make plead both cases quite easily. One thing that’s changed in recent years is the peloton is on wider tires, 25mm is thin these days, it can be 28mm or even 30mm for a normal road stage which makes the cobbles much more rideable. But yes or no to pavé should not be a dichotomous matter, instead it’s a matter of degree. This is where today’s stage comes in, it’s got Paris-Roubaix pavé and gnarlier sections too. So the yes/no issue is too simple a way to look at it, it’s more a matter of how much.

Food and drink: with the race staying the Nord for another day, after frites yesterday another local dish is fricadelle (photo via Flickr’s ItsOlf) and an interesting cross-border meal as you’ll find it in northern France and then beyond to the north into Belgium and the Netherlands – frikandel – but you won’t get it much further south of today’s race route. Often sold alongside frites, it’s a sausage similar to a hot dog and made from mechanically recovered meat, it can even be a combination of chicken, pork and horse meat. Then it’s deep fried. Bon appétit!

85 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 5 Preview”

    • I noticed that, too. In this case Kristoff didn’t keep going all the way to the barrier (if he had, he’d have gotten second since both Philipsen and LaPorte would have been blocked). Philipsen was able to make a little shoulder nudge to maintain his space, all while sprinting full out. I have the feeling that this was the kind of move (i.e., squeezing into a tight gap and making contact to maintain the position) that would have drawn criticism if Sagan had been the one making contact, since I think confirmation bias is the primary determinant of what gets judged as clean or dirty in sprinting. And to be clear, I think Philipsen did nothing wrong – it was a gutsy and impressive move. Likewise for Kristoff. He deviated slightly towards the barrier, but didn’t actually impair or endanger anyone. This was just another (minor) example of how much on the knife’s edge the sprinters have to be to play this dangerous game.

  1. Wout should have waited for Vingegard and Yates at the minimum. 3 strong riders would do much more damage, and ineos wouldn’t chase.
    If the goal is the GC for Rogla or Jonas, you need to put as much time in Pogačar as possible – I don’t think there will be much more opportunities like this one.

    • I’m reading 3 things from yesterday
      1) For Wout it’s all about Wout (he can prove me wrong today, but I don’t think he will)
      2) Vingegaard is stronger than Roglic
      3) Nobody at Jumbo (with the exception of Vingegaard) believes they can beat Pogi

      • If anything, yesterday proved Roglic had a positioning mishap and cooked himself a bit at the bottom of the climb to get back on the JV wheels.
        Is he less strong? Hard to tell: This was a single explosive effort, not a typical Tour deciding effort. Is he bad at positioning? Hard to tell too; there was only so much room in that chicane. I thought it was amazing JV and Ineos managed to pull off entering it with so much riders. There was a high chance somebody would miss the boat and it’s unfortunate for JV that was Roglic. He still did better than Pogi and Vlasov though.
        Today could be the other way around. Roglic looked solid on the Denain cobbles, although Jonas wasn’t in form at that time.

      • I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from yesterday. Perhaps Rogelio decided not to go too far into the red… smart decision in week 1.

        WVA has to make these decisions. His talent requires him to win a lot. But for the record he has been a GREAT team rider many times and he will continue to do so. Much better team rider than Van Der Poel and Remco if you ask me. Very similar to Tony Martin at riding for the team.

    • I said the same while watching it yesterday – “why isn’t he waiting for Vingegaard & Yates”
      But it’s easy to say that with the benefit of helicopter images and the mental lucidity that comes with having not just done an all out 2 minute effort…I imagine from WvA’s perspective, he looked around after the top of the hill, saw a gap to Vingegaard & Yates, and whilst knowing he’d caused carnage behind didn’t know exactly what the gaps were, and so decided to press on – in fact, he said pretty much exactly that in his post race interview.
      Of course, if he had waited for the other two, the chase behind might have also been stronger – With him solo out front, it took time for the sprinter teams to return to the front and get organised, and then the chase wasn’t very strong because everyone was tired. If he’d had two GC contenders with him, suddenly a lot of other teams would be interested in chasing (Ineos excepted of course), and with the GC teams generally further forwards the chase likely would’ve started more quickly and possibly been stronger. They may still have made it to the finish, but the gaps would’ve been small in any case.

      • Fully agree with Davesta here.

        It’s easy to say from our armchairs that they should have done this or that and I find it very difficult to portray this as a negative for Jumbo-Vism, ,or a missed opportunity.

        Van Aert got his stage win and a commanding lead in the green jersey. He’s been given a chance to show off his strength, win a stage in spectacular style while wearing the yellow jersey and he has also given himself a good chance of holding yellow for a longer period now. The team had a good run at an explosive attack and a chance to observe how the other teams responded. They will take confidence and momentum from this into the first weekend.

        • The move was planned long ago it seems. Team DS Grischa Niermann visited the stage route in March ahead of Paris-Nice and they thought it would be ideal for an attack. But they expected a group of 30 over the top, not three according to an interview in L’Equipe.

        • My impression of Jumbo-Visma so far is one of clever resource management in terms of rider designation and effort.
          WvA has got one or two very temporary helpers at the crucial times, otherwise the rest of the team are split around Roglic and Vingegaard, and they’re often to be seen at different points in the peloton, rather as one humongous mass.
          To say “Wout is in it for Wout” is partially true, I feel, but it appears that he has the thumbs up from the team to make hay while he can without it unduly affecting the rest of the team.
          Although, as said, yesterday could have potentially been a team opportunity.
          Today, therefore, is very interesting.
          Maybe Jumbo could go on the attack en-masse, that would be really something to witness.
          The presence of Pogacar on GC is a problem, this first week was to have been a chance to isolate him but the weather did not play ball.
          The common sense play for Jumbo today is to distance Pogacar, anything else being a bonus.
          To that end, WvA should really be on team duty.
          But this is where a possible juxtaposition can occur between their GC and Green Jersey ambitions.
          All things being equal, if Jumbo are on an ‘all for one and one for all’ day, I’d go with MvdP as the prime candidate for the win, and Pidcock as a good bet too.

      • After the events of today’s cobble stage they may regret now that Vingegaard didn’t go with WvA to put at least some time on Pogacar and others.

  2. It’s always a spectacle when the tour hits the pave, but it seems to be a bit overly hard today. Some of those sectors are brutal. Pogacar was way out of position yesterday, can’t afford that today.
    Winner – MvdP
    Best of GC guys – Thomas

  3. A few things struck me yesterday. What would WvA have done if Adam Yates had stayed on his wheel, would he really have towed him to the line even if Jonas Vinegegaard was there too? Tactically it was brilliant but strategically? Is the aim to win the race for JV or to show off WvA’s talents? Any rider, no matter how good, has only so much energy and energy spent on a stage 4 victory might be needed at an important juncture in the days to come. Tadej Pogacer was out of position and his team looks weak but in reality this was a short climb and any time losses would have amounted to a few seconds, unlikely to make any odds in the longer term.

    Today is a throw of the dice. It seems clear that both JV & Ineos will race aggressively, no doubt Tadej Pogacer is potentially the best of the GC contenders but with a weak team he is vulnerable. There is only so much road space and if Pippo Ganna (or anyone else) splits the group at a key moment a rider without team mates is going to struggle to get back. It seems inevitable that one or more “contenders” will lose time today from either a mechanical or crash.

    Mathieu van der Poel must be the big favourite for the stage win, though the yellow jersey might now be out of reach, as Inrng says his biggest weakness is his tendency to go too fast too soon.

  4. Stunning ride yesterday, wasn’t expecting it at all. I think today Ineos will try push on — it’s a rare opportunity for them. GT and Rowe were almost always in the mix when they used to do the classics.

    • Isn’t the mechanically recovered meat what is found in US hotdogs? This makes you wonder about the help benefits of the hotdog eating contests in the US, Joey Chestnut, this year’s July 4th winner ate 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

        • Ha ha! Surely, Wout would eat 65!

          Mechanically recovered meat – what my friend called ‘scrapings off the abattoir floor’ as he disdainfully eyed up my burger.

          • It’s not even as nice as that. It’s jetwashed off boned carcases and then dried out again. Then it’s mixed with fat and food dye to keep it pink. As long as it’s less than 50% fat it stays within your rules.
            Knowing this still hasn’t stopped me eating it, though. I have no idea why!

    • If “mechanially separated meat” (which is the same thing) sounds more appetizing, you can look it up in Wikipedia.

      While we are thinking about food: we just left Denmark, where a “frikadelle” is a pan-fired meat ball of minced meat. (But if the Tour ever goes to Sweden, we’ll find out that in Sweden frikadeller are boiled meat balls…)

      PS My view is that as long as we continue to eat meat, we should eat as much of the animal we can digest and safely consume. Only then it’s time to feed the rest to cats and dogs. (NB: I don’t wish to start another non-cycling related debate.)

      • I’m pescatarian but I agree with you. Back in the day all the easy-to-separate parts of the animal would have gone into a stew pot, sans the hide or feathers, and would have been considered excellent eating.

    • Hang your carcass. Take all the saleable cuts off it, so you’re left with the bones and whatever leftovers. Now take a high-pressure hose and use it to strip off whatever flesh (and anything else) is left on those bones. It flows into a sort of meaty slurry on the floor, where it’s pushed over some mesh for the water to drain away and the meat to be recovered and shaped into whatever you might want – nuggets, sausages, hamburgers…

    • In my day they used metallic flails to clean all the “meat” off the bones, which means not just meat but tendons, ligaments and fat. It’s then all ground up and reformed usually into burgers or chicken nuggets.

      • I once spent a training day at a Bernard Matthews turkey meat plant in Norfolk.
        Live turkeys delivered hanging upside down at one end, complete free meal consisting of a large variety of cooked MRM turkey products in the boardroom at the other.
        Suffice to say, my appetite was somewhat lacking by the tour’s end 😃

  5. Vingegaard looks strong, so I’d better learn how to pronounce his name. As I now understand that Danish has a lot of silent letters, is it ” Vin’e’aar’ ” or ” Vinge’aar’ “?

  6. On France 2 Marion Rousse observed that Yates looked comfortable on WVA’s wheel, and then suddenly he was there no more. She’s normally excellent at reading riders too, or did Yates – or his team – decide that becoming virtual GC leader behind WVA was unwise at this early stage?

    Despite Pidcock’s two P-R wins I just can’t see him matching MVDP or WVA today. Tomorrow
    with tricky narrow roads approaching the finish and a wall looks more suited to his qualities.

    • G’s post race interview seemed to imply that he and ‘yatesy’ did consider pushing in, but then some of the other GC riders caught up ( whom he referred to as wots his name and the other one, if I remember correctly) and they thought there was nothing much to be gained by the extra effort.

      G seems to be on good form, the laconic humour is back. I wonder if Steve Cummings is getting the team rolling after a rather odd time with DS’s ? I see G is auctioning the famous gilet for charity!

      • Not surprised by those comments. There was never quite enough of a gap for Ineos and JV to join forces and really rip it up, although for a second it looked like they might achieve it (with utter panic behind at that point, too). What might have been will remain one of the questions of this year’s tour.

      • On their Watt’s occurring podcast G said it was his best ever 1 minute power (740 w) but then he decided not to drag the others back to Yates . He also got baulked going into the climb so the form is definitely there.
        Also Like Rowe said that the problem with the cobble stages is not so much the risk of mechanicals as the fact that many of the riders, unlike PR, have no idea how to ride the cobbles and they cause the real problems.

    • Just like his brother, Adam is one of those riders that never shows signs of exertion – he just drops all of a sudden.

      Not necessarily saying that was the case with him yesterday, but I’ve observed this numerous times before.

  7. Common superlatives are probably not sufficient to describe the dominance of wva. In another parallel world with flatter/hillier grand tour stages, he wouldve won the leaders jersey more than 10 times 🙂 Felt that Roglic’s woes were more due to his timing as he started the uphill sprint a second too late but was still able to come along side Geraint Thomas and Dani Martinez (who are also in quite good forms) leading the trio at the top.

  8. Hennie Kuiper is Dutch, and fortunately I can tell that “licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own”, is not common practice in Holland, although it might sound good to lick the remaining sauce after eating the frikandel first 😋 Actually Kuiper said to first finish the plate of the others. I always asked myself how that he came to that expression.

    • I’m still baffled by what it means, even with your less prosaic version. I can’t see how a rider can waste others energy without starting to waste their own. Can someone please offer me some perspective here?

      • By not attacking until the right moment and perhaps resting in the slipstream of others? (E. g. Pinot’s recent ride in Liechtenstein.)

  9. On the main subject of today’s post (the amount and severity of cobbled sections with respect to the TdF), I can see both sides of the argument. As a fan, and someone who loves the classics, I can’t wait to watch, and I love the intrigue of having a mini-PR stage within a GT, which means that a much much larger group of riders will care very much about being near the front, which makes it substantially different from the actual PR race.

    On the other hand, were I really invested in a GC rider who was a feather weight or who had little to no experience in cobbled races, I’d be pissed about the unfairness of introducing this joker into the deck. It does occur early, so if someone loses a small amount of time then recovery is possible, but the risk of major crashes and huge time losses does seem questionable for the pure GC riders and the GC-weighted teams.

    • It is harsh on the GC riders but if Pogacar loses a few minutes today and then has to go on a rampage to get it back we’ll all be thankful.

    • My feeling is that we’ve seen plenty of GC favourites crash/puncture/mechanical on non-cobbled stages over the years. This obviously increases that risk, but doesn’t change the basic reality that mishaps are always possible. I personally love it, it rewards the strength of the rider, the strength of his team, and their sense for positioning and timing, which is what a TdF stage should do. And some uncertainty isn’t bad when the GC field is so narrow.

      • I absolutely agree. There’s also a skill to riding on the cobbles (or other surfaces, types of roads etc) and that should be rewarded.

        • Yes, absolutely!! A GT should be an ‘all round’ test of each contender…..You need to be able to ride uphill, descending, riding in the crosswinds, TT-ing, riding gravel/cobble sections, etc

          Gravel/cobbles are just as much right to be in GTs as mountain top finishes after a 10-15km climb…

          • Thé course designer agrees with you; he said ( inasmuch as I could follow it ) that ‘a cobbled specialist would be at a disadvantage in the mountains compared to a climber, and vice versa. This is a Grand Tour , at the end, the best rider is the best all rounder.’

            It looks as Pogi was listening…..

    • “On the other hand, were I really invested in a GC rider who was a feather weight or who had little to no experience in cobbled races, I’d be pissed about the unfairness of introducing this joker into the deck.”
      To those people I say “Tough s–t” Earlier someone complained the chrono course wasn’t suited to modern chrono bikes. So what? The course is created and announced well in advance, whose fault is it if your team doesn’t show up with the best riders or equipment for it? The race is held to find stuff like this out, or was last time I checked. Vive LeTour!

  10. Regarding the cobbles, I thought I read somewhere that although these were the same cobbles as used on Paris Roubaix they were being ridden in the opposite direction today. Would that mean a different surface too, the cobbles slightly tipped up like dragon’s teeth and thus harder to ride? Of course I may have dreamt this.

  11. So it was Jumbo V who had penciled yesterday’s stage in ” already long before the Tour”. Probably when Paris-Nice happened as Yates said that Ineos thought Jumbo might try a reprise of the TTT tactic on stage 1 at Paris-Nice. It seems to have been a move to get WvA more green jersey points and a “scouting expedition” to see how the other GC guys are. Did anyone find out why WvA went back 5 times to the team car at the beginning of the stage? Will today be the day we see how much Pogacar will miss Trentin? Pogacar’s best bet is to sit on MvdP or Ganna’s wheel, I think. Cort has a day off today – no KOM points, but I’ve got a feeling a few teams have “penciled this stage in”.

  12. Guess I somehow missed the part where Roglic was floundering? Seemed to me he was letting his team do some work (damage) to his GC competitors on an otherwise easy day while WVA showed some real panache and raced-to-win. CHAPEAU!
    I got a stomach-ache from that “food” photo. remembering those creepy-looking pink things before they were fried up into something that looked like cigars at the Tour of Flanders. UGH! I lived in Sioux City, IA, USA for more than two decades – one of the local heroes was the guy who perfected the hydraulic sluicing of animal carcasses, creating “pink slime” for various fast-food operations. This s–t was so full of e-coli and gawd knows what else the chemical treatment taste left by the process couldn’t be cooked out…it’s gotta be disguised with other…well….flavorings I’d guess you call them? When the ABC News story on this s–t broke, even local college presidents were drafted into the “beef is beef” spin they tried to put on it. The places that produced this s–t employed a lot of local people so the “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair.” idea came into play big-time.

    • I dont think Primoz Roglic was “floundering”, it was all very confusing when it was happening as the images were not clear. Geraint Thomas said in his post race interview that he was marking PR who then lost the wheel of the rider in front but this was really no big issue, Wout van Aert was stronger than everyone else and the differences were minor. None of this is likely to add up to a hill of beans (or mechanically recovered “meat”) when all is said and done. Given how little has happened in the first four days folk have been spending too much time analysing 30 seconds of “action” on a cat 4 climb.

  13. Can’t help but feel Jumbo and Ineos missed a rare opportunity to put some time into Pog. They had 7 over the top and daylight behind. A mixed team TT to the finish.

  14. I could see a scenario where Jumbo and Ineos look to presssure on Pog today and it back firing… they may damage their own riders in setting an inferno pace only to see Pog then counter and drop them. The TT showed he’s got form and ‘flat’s power. The tour of flanders showed he has tremendous ability on cobbles. I could see him taking time on GC rivals after them trying to put him under preassure. Don’t poke the pog

      • Perhaps, but today’s stage doesn’t go over the gnarliest P-R sectors.

        It’s a lottery, because of the sheer chaos of such TDF stages, but the road won’t be that hard per se, I suppose. Perhaps tomorrow’s finish or the friday’s gravel could cause more GC chances carnage, we’ll see.

      • Kind of called it 😉

        I’m going to try a bigger prediction. Vingegaard will drop Pog at some point in the mountains and potentially end up ahead on GC. Pog will win the final time trial and in doing so take the time back.

        Pog, Vingegaard, Thomas.

      • Seems like Bojo put a stray bale on the political road and ran right into it, maybe taking down the entire peloton with him…

        (On topic: I’d be happy to see Pogacar win the TdF–he’s an enjoyable rider to watch and I like his élan and odds are that I’m related to him somehow since everyone of Slovenian descent is a second or third cousin it seems…–but not like this.)

  15. It’s a rare day INRNG doesn’t pick anyone in a leading group and only has a single tip coming in the second group on a stage like todays!

    I feel like a complete dope for even dreaming that Pogacar could be beaten without illness/crash/mechanical…

    I’m not surprised he did well but even so every time he races he finds a new way to blow my mind. How he managed to surf the bunch with no helpers and even take time on everyone… given that he’s also the best climber and close to the best TT’er, as well as this year seemingly adding cobbles/gravel to his list of skills, is astounding.

    He’s by far the best bike rider I’ve ever seen.

    You have a feeling he could have turned up today with a team of juniors and the result would’ve been the same. I cannot believe I think this but to me it feels like we’re just waiting for the next three years to pass so we can debate who’s the greatest between Merckx, Hinault and Pogacar, with a little Coppi as a side order.

    • Yep. If you want to be seen as the best, it seems you simply have to prove it every day. No more than that! Don’t worry about team strategy or potential pitfalls. Just try and ride them off your wheel whenever you sense the chance.
      I love the lack of team tactics from Pogačar.

      • He finds an ad hoc team when he needs one. Today, Bettiol and Stuyven seemed they would put their lives on the line for Pog. (Though I saw just some highlights, perhaps misleading.)

        Does anyone have an explanation?

        • It made sense for Stuyven to work with Pogacar when they thought they had a shot at winning the stage – he should be faster than Pog in a sprint and Pog wouldn’t want to hold back on the drive to avoid wasting time gained on rivals. Your ideal partner really if you’re looking for a stage win.

          Once it was obvious that they wouldn’t get back on the break, Stuyven stopped riding hard, and I think that’s why they lost so much on the chasing peloton at the end.

          I think Stuyven was racing cleverly, he just didn’t quite have enough.

          • If Pogacar took some turns, then Stuyven’s effort make sense, sure. That’s perhaps the highlights problem – I never saw Pogacar in front, always behind some other rider. 🙂

    • Brilliant positioning and attentiveness from Pogacar but he did seem to have found his limit at the end there. To play devil’s advocate: maybe very early signs that he’s not quite as invincible this year.

      • What? His limit in the sense he took time out of all rivals?
        You mean not chasing down the break or WVA bring his gap down a little?
        I’m not sure that’s a sign of weakness but maybe Vinny will trounce him in the mountains and I’ll be proved wrong.

  16. Bettiol indeed.
    Very confusing effort he even seem considered for POG looking around to make sure he was okay whilst chasing his teamates.

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