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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, July 6, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

My dad used to say, “You wouldn't worry so much about what people thought about you if you knew how seldom they did”. - Phil McGraw

Story of the Tour de France Volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, Vol 2: 1976 - 2018 is available in print, Kindle eBook & Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage five reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner and new GC leader Jai Hindley's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The first stage in the Pyrenees offered plenty of opportunities to attack today and as a result plenty of teams had an attacking strategy in mind. BORA – hansgrohe was active right from the start, and when a big group of 36 riders formed at the front, Jai Hindley, Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad were part of the day’s break.

At one point a trio tried to distance themselves from the rest, but due to the hard work of Patrick, the race came back together at the front on the Col de Soudet. When Felix Gall attacked only Jai was able to follow, with Emu sitting in the first chasing group while the bunch was around three minutes behind. Only 2km from the top of the climb Jai went solo, in the bunch Jonas Vingegaard dropped everybody and was able to bridge across to the first chasing group with Emu, which also caught Gall on the last decent. Jai Hindley instead finished off a perfect BORA – hansgrohe teamwork in style and took a solo victory, his first ever Tour de France stage win. With this superior ride, Jai also took the overall race lead and will start tomorrow’s stage with the famous Yellow Jersey on his shoulders.

Jai Hindley will start stage six in yellow. Sirotti photo.

“I have no words; I cannot believe what happened. I was surprised when I was part of the break, and the bunch didn’t really react. We decided to start working in the group and just have fun. Initially my idea was to just get a buffer to the other GC guys. On the Soudet I started thinking about a stage win, at the bottom of the climb I also saw my parents which was really special and emotional. When I attacked, everything went so fast, I knew I had a good chance, but I only started really believing on the home straight. It still feels surreal to have that jersey on my shoulders.”  – Jai Hindley

“Well, we wanted to ride offensively today and our plan was to have Koni and Emu in a bigger break. But to have Jai up there just happened. He was riding in a good position and at some point, he was up there. It was a confusing situation because there was no real cooperation at the front, but also the bunch didn’t chase. The game changer today for us was to have Koni up there. He was key to success and did an amazing job. Of course, also Emu was important, and Jai had the legs in the end, but without Koni the race would have been different. I have no idea what will happen tomorrow after this amazing battle today. But to be honest, I don’t care for just now. We just will enjoy that moment today and I want to thank the whole team, also staff, for all the effort and commitment. We can be proud of what we achieved today. It’s always special to get the Yellow Jersey and without the team behind Jai this wouldn’t have been possible.” – Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

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Here's the report from Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Jonas Vingegaard did an excellent job in the general classification on the fifth stage of the Tour de France. The Dane attacked and finished fifth, taking time on several GC riders. Vingegaard is now second in the general classification behind stage winner Jai Hindley.

Jonas Vingegaard finsihing fifth. Sirotti photo

Early Wednesday afternoon, the peloton set off from Pau for the first mountain stage of the 110th edition of the Tour de France. Team Jumbo-Visma was very alert after the fast start. The Dutch squad was in the breakaway with Wout van Aert, Tiesj Benoot and Christophe Laporte, and some classification riders. This increased the pressure on some of the other teams in the peloton.

On the first two climbs of the day, the GC riders kept quiet, but on the Col de Marie Blanque, the race exploded when Hindley broke away. In the thinned peloton behind, Vingegaard attacked after good work from Sepp Kuss.

"I saw that Tadej Pogacar did not react immediately. Jonas immediately had a gap, and then he had to keep going”, the American said. "I did everything I could. When I reached the top of the Marie Blanque in Pogacar's wheel, the difference with Jonas was already huge. Jonas was flying today. It was an excellent stage for the whole team.”

Vingegaard eventually finished fifth, half a minute behind winner Hindley and more than a minute ahead of most GC riders. "My legs were perfect on the last climb. I wanted to test Pogacar. We discussed this scenario before, but I did not expect it to go so well. We wanted to make the race hard today. I think we succeeded. The team rode well today”, Vingegaard beamed.

"I'm happy I could take so much time from some of the GC riders. Hindley was very strong today. We should not underestimate him”, the Danish rider concluded.

Sports director Grischa Niermann agreed: "The Tour is only five days old and far from over. Pogacar has looked very strong in the last few days, and we should not write him off just yet. But, of course, we are delighted with the situation we have created today.”

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Here's the report from Fabio Jakobsen's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Julian Alaphilippe was back in Pau Wednesday afternoon for the first time since time trialling to an electrifying victory in 2019, with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, to the delight of the thousands of fans that on that day got to witness one of the greatest moments in the recent history of the race.

Just like then, the double World Champion was again among the protagonists, after a rapid and fierce first hour of racing booking a place in a large breakaway group together with his teammates Kasper Asgreen and Rémi Cavagna. Col de Soudet was the first hurdle of the day, and as soon as the road began to rise, Alaphilippe became more and more prominent at the front.

The six-time Tour de France stage winner was one of the most active riders in the group, which fragmented four kilometers from the top, taking some long pulls, chasing on the descent after previously getting dropped, going on the offensive and spicing up the final hour of the race with a bold attack that saw him remain in the lead until the early slopes of the last ascent.

Despite his crash injuries Fabio Jakobsen finished stage five within the time limit. Sirotti photo

While Julian was animating this tough Pyrenean stage, Tim Declercq and Dries Devenyns – some 30 minutes in arrears – were putting in a huge effort for Fabio Jakobsen to help him make it over the first day in the mountains. Battered and bruised following his crash in Nogaro, the European Champion showed incredible determination and resilience as he fought hard to make it inside the time cut in Laruns. Helped by his incredible Soudal Quick-Step teammates, Fabio came home with eight minutes to spare and will continue the race, which now schedules another stage in the mountains.

“The best news of the day is that I made it. Climbing is not my thing, and yesterday I hit the ground hard, so I knew it was going to be a tough day. I got dropped in the beginning, but luckily Michael stayed with me and we came back. Then when we got distanced for good, we found a solid group to be part of. It wasn’t easy out there, but with the help of the guys I made the time cut. Now I hope to recover and the wounds to heal, as I like it here and want to continue the Tour”, said Fabio after the stage.

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And here's the Team INEOS Grenadiers stage five report:

Dani Martinez and Carlos Rodriguez secured top 10 finishes on a dramatic first stage in the Pyrenees, won by Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe).

The pair came home as part of a chase group after Hindley had won solo to take the race lead, with the other GC contenders split into multiple groups after the race exploded on the final climb.

Mattias Skjelmose finishes just ahead of Daniel Martinez. Sirotti photo.

After day in the break, Martinez finished seventh, with Rodriguez 10th as the duo finished in the yellow jersey group.

Earlier, there had been a fierce battle to get into the breakaway with a high pace from kilometre zero. Eventually, a large group of 36 riders escaped, with Martinez and Fraile representing the Grenadiers. 

The group started to dwindle on the unclassified Col de Soudet, with Martinez active in the latter part of the climb, accelerating over the summit second, to earn 15 mountain classification points.

At this point the group split, with a trio attacking the reduced breakaway of 11 riders. Fraile was vital in keeping these riders close by heading into the final climb, Marie-Blanque.

This saw Hindley attack and go clear of the group, while behind the peloton split after pacing from Jumbo VIsma.

Egan Bernal and Tom Pidcock slipped back, while Rodriguez joined the yellow jersey group on the descent to the finish. En route, this group collected Martinez and some of the other breakaway riders, with the Colombian finishing seventh, and Rodriguez 10th.

The result moves the former Spanish national champion ninth overall, 1'58" behind new race leader Hindley as we prepare for further mountain tests on stage six.

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