Tour de France 2016: Greg van Avermaet wins stage five to take race lead

Belgian takes yellow jersey after solo victory on hilly stage to Le Lioran

Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) soloed to victory on stage five of the Tour de France to claim the yellow jersey as the peloton tackled its first serious day of climbing in this year’s race.

Van Avermaet was part of the day’s break on the hilly route from Limoges to Le Lioran and, after going clear with fellow Belgian Thomas de Gendt – who took over the polka dot jersey – went solo with 17km to race.

And alongside taking his second Tour de France stage win, the Belgian replaces Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) – who was dropped on the Pas de Peyrol climb – in the yellow jersey.

In the peloton, a fast pace set by Movistar and Team Sky over the hills saw the GC shaken up – Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) getting dropped early on, and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) losing time in the finale.

Greg Van Avermaet is the new leader of the Tour de France (Pic: Sirotti)

With all 198 riders still in the peloton, there were plenty keen to get in the day’s break but nothing had stuck when Jasper Stuyen (Trek-Segafredo), in the polka-dot jersey, grabbed the day’s first climbing points.

When the break did stick there were nine riders present, with plenty of climbing ability among them – 2014 King of the Mountains Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) and 2012 Giro d’Italia third-placed finisher Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) both present.

Former Grand Tour stage winners Andriy Grivko (Astana), Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) also made the split, with Cyril Gautier (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) and Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) completing the move.

The peloton were happy to let them go too, with Team Sky and Movistar setting a steady pace as the gap grew out to more than 15 minutes at one point.

Van Avermaet, De Gendt and Grivko broke clear of the six other breakaway riders, as the Lotto-Soudal man moved himself up the King of the Mountain standings in the process.

At the intermediate sprint, the green jersey contenders were left feeding off scraps in the bunch but Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) beat Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in that order.

Back up the road, the three leaders’ advantage continued to grow over the chasers before Grivko was dropped on the category two ascent of the Pas de Peyrol.

It left De Gendt and Van Avermaet up the road, with the former allowed to take the maximum climbing points at the top – enough to give him the King of the Mountains lead.

The six chasers were reduced to four, meanwhile, with Vachon and Sicard dropped as all three groups on the road were trimmed by the climb.

Back in the bunch, there were some high-profile casualties as Movistar set a fast tempo – Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and yellow jersey Sagan among the riders spat out the back.

Team Sky’s Mikel Landa also lost contact with the bunch, though most of Chris Froome’s key lieutenants stayed with their leader just behind Movistar.

Movistar’s pace reduced the gap between the much-reduced peloton and the two leaders to less than seven minutes, which prompted Van Avermaet to go solo at the front

Sky took over pace-setting duties thereafter, and began to pick up the remnants of the day’s break as the climbing continued with the category-two Col du Perthus.

Two of those – Pauwels and Gautier – suffered a crash on the descent – but got back on the bike, as Van Avermaet crested the final climb of the day with a six-minute lead over the peloton.

De Gendt, now assured of the polka dot jersey, was more than two minutes behind his fellow Belgian as Van Avermaet had time to punch the air in celebration.

A late dig by Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the GC group caught Contador out, but the other GC men left in the peloton finished together.

It leaves Van Avermaet 5’11 clear of Julian Alaphilippe, as the attention turns back to the sprinters on stage six.


Tour de France 2016: stage five – result

1) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing – 5.31.36hrs
2) Thomas de Gendt (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal +2.34
3) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff +5.04
4) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha – ST
5) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep +5.07
6) Bartosz Huzarski (POL) – Bora-Argon 18 – ST
7) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep
8) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-BikeExchange
9) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
10) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing

General classification

1) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing – 25.34.46hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep +5.11
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +5.13
4) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +5.14
5) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +5.17
6) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Alpecin – ST
7) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar
8) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana
9) Pierre Rolland (FRA) – Cannondale
10) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep

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