A two man break got away right at the start, Yellow Lotto's Martin Keizer and Red Lotto's Tosh Van der Sande got away from the start. The definition of a doomed break, but it didn't have a Europcar rider or Teklehaimanot in it, which was almost the headline of this piece.
The still, we assumed, doomed break continued, and got a gap of seven minutes, as BMC, the team of race leader Rohan Dennis set the early pace. However, by 50 kilometres to go, the gap had only fallen to five minutes, and it stayed stationary for the next twenty kilometres.
The break were by now the favourites, as BMC were relieved by MTN and Cofidis finally going to the front for their sprinters, and the gap fell by a minute in three kilometres, down to under four minutes with twenty-five kilometres left and again another minute fell by 20 kilometres to go. Cofidis were absolutely panicking, but had they used their men too early with a climb and a sprint to come?
Up front, Keizer was doing slightly more work, but Van der Sande was by no means glass-cranking. The two riders knew they couldn't afford to waste time, as Cofidis were charging them down, and by fifteen kilometres to go, the weather worsened, the gap was down to a far more manageable 1'25". They's lost four minutes in fifteen kilometres.
The GC teams moved to the front as the climb started on a rutted, narrow road, really horrible. Keizer attacked, cracking Van der Sande, and Cannondale-Garmin were mobbing the front. They couldn't however, stop Cyril Gautier attacking for Europcar, setting the balance of the universe right after they weren't in the break. He was soon followed by Tim Wellens and Lawson Craddock. They set off in pursuit of Keizer, accompanied by Van der Sande, who'd recovered somewhat.
Wellens soon dropped his companions, and went on alone, with Keizer in his sight. Wilco Kelderman attacked as well, trying to make up some of the time he'd lost earlier, and was followed by Julian Alaphillippe. There was utter anarchy on the road by this stage, people isolated, including the yellow jersey, who was single-handedly bridging gaps.
Alaphillippe and Kelderman were a dangerous duo, and Kelderman was getting a free ride. Katusha's Machado attacked, but was brought back by, of all people, Vincenzo Nibali, who soon joined Alaphillippe and Kelderman just a few metres ahead of the peloton.
But as the road flattened out, MTN could control it, and all but Wellens were brought back. The Belgian was out there, but the sprinters were in the peloton, and MTN were beginning to control it. He was caught by a savage Tony Martin attack, followed by Daniel Oss.
They were brought back, as going through the Flamme Rouge, finally the sprint was on...or so we thought! Tony Gallopin was the next to attack, as I got the impression Lotto had their eye on this stage.
Farrar led out Boasson Hagen, catching Gallopin. Boasson Hagen and Dumoulin looked in the best position, but the Cofidis sprinter timed his sprint to perfection, able to celebrate before beating Van Genechten's lunge to the win.
|5hrs 30' 53"
|Jonas van Genechten
|Edvald Boasson Hagen
Yellow: Rohan Dennis
Green: Nacer Bouhanni
Red-white: Daniel Teklehaimanot
White: Rohan Dennis
Stage 5: To the Mountains we Go!
Compare the profiles: One is Stage 17 of the Tour de France and the other is tomorrow's stage of the Dauphiné.
As you see, identical. 161 kilometres and over the same mountains. It goes over the highest point in the Dauphiné, the Col d'Allos, which isn't tortuous in any way, only the last five kilometres are over six per cent, but where the advantage could be made is on the descent, which is very dangerous and incredibly twisty. Great conditions for sharks, as the final climb to Pra-Loup is just category two, and if you can get a bit of time on the descent, you can make it count. However, as we saw when they tried to do a Gap stage, down the Col du Manse last year, none of the GC contenders would take any risks, for fear of crashing and missing the Tour, which leads me to believe a break will make it. Possible contenders for the break could be Giampaolo Caruso or Wout Poels. Caruso might be my long shot for it, or if not him, Nibali if he's feeling lucky.