Drama was what we were promised and drama, by the bucket-load, was what stage five of the Tour de France delivered.
Even before the race had hit the first of seven
secteurs of pave, crashes had been a regular occurrence on the rain-soaked surfaces.
With defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) crashing out, and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) among the men to taste the tarmac it proved to be a incident-packed stage.
And once the cobbles were tackled, it was stage winner Lars Boom (Belkin) and yellow jersey Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who emerged triumphant.
The former showed why he is a former world ‘cross champion
with a showcase of his aggression and hugely impressive bike-handling on the mud-soaked pave.
For Nibali, meanwhile, he stretched his overall lead on rivals including Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) with an incredible ride into third place.
Relive the stage in the full-screen gallery below, used with the permission of the ASO.
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Wet and wild
Do not adjust your sets: the riders bore the brunt of the treacherous weather conditions in Ypres (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Strength in numbers
Orica-GreenEDGE got two men - Simon Clarke and Mat Hayman - up the road but the frantic pace in the bunch ensured the break did not stay out (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Arnaud Demare was just one big-name rider to suffer a crash on the rain-soaked tarmac (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Vincenzo Nibali (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Frank Schleck put his 2010 crash on the cobbles behind him, losing a lot of time overall but staying upright (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
An ill-timed puncture cost Michal Kwiatkowski after a great team ride but he finished as the only GC contender still within a minute of Vincenzo Nibali overall (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
The cobbled course resembled a cyclo-cross race rather than a Grand Tour stage at times, so it was fitting former 'cross world champion soloed to victory (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Vincenzo Nibali and his team-mates were supposed to inexperienced and vulnerable on the cobbles, but he proved his doubters wrong with a superb ride on the pave (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan were in the yellow jersey group throughout but could not get a cobbled stage win to add to their Spring Classics successes (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Geraint Thomas leads Richie Porte, who also suffered a crash, on to the final section of cobbles as the two battled on in the absence of Chris Froome (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)
Lars Boom celebrates his maiden Tour de France stage victory (pic: Xavier Bourgois/ASO)
There may be still 16 stages to go, but Vincenzo Nibali has ensured he boasts a sizable overall lead after just five days (pic: Xavier Bourgois/ASO)