Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) caught the eye in the build-up to the race and he continued to impress at Orcieres-Merlette yesterday. The Frenchman was the only GC contender to try to upset Jumbo-Visma’s dominance, kicking for home with 600m to go, and he still had the strength to place third on the stage. At the beginning of the season in Argentina – a lifetime ago – Martin sat down with us in the lobby of the Del Bono hotel in San Juan and discussed at length his life as a bike rider and writer. “This game, cycling, is something that I do very seriously,” Martin told us. With 90km and no urgency in the peloton, there’s ample time to read the whole interview here.
Two hours into the stage and the average speed is 41.58kph thus far.
Landa did what he needed to do yesterday, holding onto the Jumbo-Visma train in the finale and placing 9th on the stage. He had been looking quite solid at the Dauphine until his sudden collapse on the final day, so the jury is out – as ever, one might say – as to what he can achieve on this Tour.
It’s still gruppo compatto as the race enters the final 100km, with Jungels setting the tempo and a delegation from Bahrain-McLaren tucked in behind them.
It’s not a completely straight run-in, mind, so those changes in direction will certainly cause some tense moments for the GC contenders before the day is out. For now, however, all is calm, with Bob Jungels setting the tempo on the front of a wholly intact peloton for Deceuninck-QuickStep.
Our man in Privas tells us that the wind has picked up at the finish, though it looks set to be a block headwind in the run-in.
The finale at Orcieres-Merlette wasn’t exactly suited to Nairo Quintana but the Colombian quietly caught the eye by taking 4th in that breathless sprint at the summit. Like Roglic, his display suggested that he had recovered well from his pre-Tour injury and Quintana will look with confidence to the days ahead, starting with tomorrow’s summit finish at Mont Aigoual. Quintana’s revival in Arkea-Samsic colours has been one of the stories of the season and it will be fascinating to see if the upward trajectory continues over the rest of this Tour. For an in-depth portrait of Quintana (and Colombian cycling’s resurgence on the world stage over the past decade), Matt Rendell’s Colombia Es Pasión! is required reading.
Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe are controlling the peloton for the time being and there is no sign of any willing attackers. It may well be that word has filtered through of a gentle but persistent headwind in the final 40km.
You can read more on Thibaut Pinot’s treatment regimen on this Tour here. “I was miserably dragging myself around for two days so it was a very satisfying result,” Pinot said of his display yesterday.
The uncertainty that shrouded this Tour led many to suggest that we might see a more aggressive and attacking race than usual in the opening days. So far, the GC contenders haven’t looked inclined to expend any more energy than usual in the first week, and, on today’s evidence, the rest of the peloton also seems to be of the same mind. The extremely tough parcours of this Tour is perhaps a double-edged sword. After a summit finish yesterday and with another to come tomorrow, it’s maybe only to be expected that few riders are willing to go too deep at this very early juncture.
Wout van Aert was Jumbo-Visma’s MVP on the final climb yesterday and he might have some freedom to have a crack at stage honours today, as he told Eurosport at the start. “It’s a good stage for me,” Van Aert said. “If the leaders are up there and out of trouble, then I can try my luck in the sprint.”
Still no attacking in the peloton, where Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team have now assumed the pace-making at the front, though not with any particular intensity.
The result from the sprint was as follows:
1 Sam Bennett 20
2 Michael Mørkøv17
3 Caleb Ewan 15
4 Peter Sagan 13
5 Bryan Coquard 11
6 Alexander Kristoff 10
7 Matteo Trentin 9
8 Niccolò Bonifazio 8
9 Daniel Oss 7
10 Elia Viviani 6
11 Christophe Laporte 5
12 Giacomo Nizzolo 4
13 Nelson Oliveira 3
14 Cyril Barthe 2
15 Roger Kluge 1
Correction, it was Morkov who took second in that sprint. Bennett picked up 7 points on Sagan and he is poised to become the second Carrick-on-Suir man to wear the green jersey at the Tour de France after a certain Mr Kelly.
Sam Bennett wins the sprint with his hands on the hoods ahead of Caleb Ewan and Michael Morkov. The Irish champion moves into the provisional lead in the points competition.
One kilometre to the intermediate sprint and there is a slight increase in pace as the peloton approaches…
The average speed thus far is 38.82kph per the on-screen graphic.
So far, today’s stage has been a fairly compelling argument against the recent development of every stage of the Tour being broadcast live in its entirety. 5km to the intermediate sprint, which should add a little urgency to the day’s proceedings.
A shade under 10km to the intermediate sprint at L’Epine, where it looks as though there’ll be something of a bunch sprint for the points between Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett, Matteo Trentin et al.
Valverde looked short of his best in the lead-up to this Tour and that impression continued yesterday, where he conceded 21 seconds when the front group broke up in the final 1500m or so.
Today’s finish town of Privas featured on the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2008, when Alejandro Valverde was the stage winner ahead of Thor Hushovd. At this point in his interrupted but seemingly interminable career, trying to design a Tour (or Vuelta) route that avoids the sites of previous Valverde victories is probably akin to Leopold Bloom’s puzzle of trying to cross Dublin without passing a pub.
The détente continues in the peloton. 30km into the stage and nary an attack, save for Kasper Asgreen’s brief burst off the front.
Pinot rides back up to the rear of the peloton after receiving some attention from the medical car. He doesn’t appear in any distress and, like many, he will be glad of the relaxed early tempo here.
“It’s evolving well, we’re reassured,” Groupama-FDJ doctor Jacky Maillot told L’Equipe of Pinot’s back injury. “Today [Tuesday] was a good test. In a few days, it will get better. We can be reasonably optimistic.”
Thibaut Pinot drops back to the medical car for some attention to his shoulder or back. The Frenchman was a heavy faller on stage 1 and L’Equipe reported this morning that he has been receiving three and a half hours of treatment every day on his injuries – an hour and a half each morning before the stage and two hours every evening.
Our man in Italy and the perpetual maglia iridata of the press room Stephen Farrand has the full story on the Imola Worlds, which will see the elite men’s and women’s time trials and road races take place from September 24-27. Read more here.
This has not been the start that was advertised on the tin. Ten miles into the stage, the pace remains gentle and the peloton ambles along amiably in the early afternoon sunshine. The intermediate sprint after 47km should spark the stage into life.
Primoz Roglič’s responses became increasingly laconic with each passing press conference on last year’s Vuelta a Espana but the Slovenian was mercifully more loquacious on his first visit to the Tour’s press conference van after yesterday’s stage win. That said, he remained intent on giving little away, as Alasdair Fotheringham discovered: “Roglič seemed equally bent on muddying the waters when asked if he wanted the yellow jersey as well as the stage win, answering “yeah, no” before sidestepping the issue by saying that Deceuninck-QuickStep were also on the hunt for some good results.” Read more here.
The peloton remains compact and the pace is steady in these opening kilometers. We’re only on day five but given the spate of early crashes and the fierce pace on the final climb yesterday, there’ll be plenty of riders already grateful for a gentle opening to proceedings today.
Alaphilippe held yellow yesterday even though he gave the impression that he is not quite at the same pitch as he was in the 2019 Tour. After the stage, he suggested that Deceuninck-QuickStep would not seek to control the race much longer. The Belgian squad were to the fore all day yesterday until Jumbo-Visma took over in the finale. “I don’t want to ruin the team either, we’re not here to control the race for three weeks,” Alaphilippe said afterwards. “We’re just happy to be in yellow again tomorrow.” Stephen Farrand has more here.
Asgreen is brought to heel. It was interesting to see the Danish champion try to go up the road – a sign, perhaps, that Deceuninck-QuickStep don’t want to spend the day riding on the front to defend Julian Alaphilippe’s yellow jersey and tee up the sprint for Sam Bennett.
Gamekeeper turns poacher as Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is the first rider to attack. And the poacher turns gamekeeper as Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) shuts him down.
The road rises out of Gap for the first 5km or so before the drop towards the intermediate sprint. In these uphill opening kilometres, nobody seems willing to test the waters.
Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and stage 5 is underway. Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep sit at the front but there is no immediate attack.
The day’s intermediate sprint comes after 47km at L’Epine. Its positioning on the route and the downhill start could see a very, very rapid first hour of racing.
The Tour peloton is rolling through the neutralised zone in Gap beneath pleasant sunshine and in temperatures of 24°C.
Away from the Tour, Imola has just been confirmed as the replacement for Aigle-Martigny as the host for the 2020 World Championships, which will take place on the weekend between the end of the Tour and the start of the Giro d’Italia. Imola last hosted the Worlds in 1968, when local favourite Vittorio Adorni scored a most famous solo victory.
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep 18:07:04
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:04
3 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:07
4 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:11
5 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:00:13
6 Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:17
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:17
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:17
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic 00:00:17
10 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:00:17
11 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:17
12 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale 00:00:17
13 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 00:00:17
14 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:00:17
15 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:17
16 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:17
17 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:26
18 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:26
19 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:38
20 Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:45
Per some accounts, Primoz Roglic and Jumbo-Visma won the Tour de France yesterday. According to others, men like Egan Bernal and Thibaut Pinot did well to limit their losses to (next to) nothing. The significance of the first rendezvous of a Grand Tour is almost always in the eye of the beholder. It was clear that the Slovenian and his team were the strongest on the Tour’s first summit finish at Orcières-Merlette on stage 4, but his rivals only conceded a 10-second time bonus at the line, as all of the top tier of contenders – bar Emmanuel Buchmann – came home together. All to play for, at least if the race lasts the full three weeks.
The stage gets underway at 13.10 local time, with the peloton slated to hit kilometre zero at 13.20. There are two category 4 climbs on the agenda – the Col de Serre Colon (4.1km at 3.7%) after 130km and the Côte de Saint-Vincent-de-Barrès (2.7km at 4.2%) after 167km – though the real damage might be caused by the long, long false flat that leads to the finish in the marron glacé capital of Privas.
Stage 5 of the Tour de France brings the peloton 183km from Gap to Privas and it could go several ways. The largely downhill nature of the route suggests that it will be a day for the sprinters but the gradual drag towards the finish town might burn off some of the fast men and produce a finale for finisseurs. Meanwhile, this is Mistral country, which means there is always the vague threat of crosswinds and echelons, though the forecast is for calm conditions. After a summit finish yesterday and with another to come tomorrow, the GC men will likely be keen to get through the day as calmly as possible.