Cobblestone drama

Arenberg, 9th of July – 2014

Today’s 155 kilometer long fifth stage of Tour de France was beforehand one of the most discussed stages in years due to the cobblestone sections we know from Paris-Roubaix. But more importantly, it was the combination of cobbles and dreadful weather in form of heavy rain and fierce wind that made the stage risky for both health and for the GC. However, police authorities considered two of the sections too dangerous and the organizers cancelled them. But the weather conditions and the cobbles had a deep and rather unfortunate impact on the race.

A breakaway group including Omega-Pharma Quick Step’s Tony Martin and created a gap to the field but the pace in the peloton was constantly high caused by the battle for position in the front of the pack to avoid crashes. Once again, Tour de France favorite, Chris Froome (Sky) had a close encounter with the hard tarmac but was guided back up to the peloton where Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was surrounded by teammates on the front.

Apparently, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was interested in stage glory as he ordered his troops to the front and soon after, Froome hit the deck once more and then, he had had enough and sadly abandoned the race. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Daniele Bennati, Michael Rogers and Nicolas Roche were riding excellently in the front of the pack and emptied the peloton to a select group of 26 riders.

But then Alberto Contador lost terrain to the group and the group split up with Contador on the chase with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) behind while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) were animating their followers to keep pushing faster.  From then on, it was all about limiting the damages for Tinkoff-Saxo.

With 28 kilometers to go, the Nibali-group swept up the front group with Tony Martin while BMC, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo were chasing behind. On the penultimate section, Astana totally exploded the front group and Jakob Fuglsang, Liuewe Westra and Vincenzo Nibali distanced riders like Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan while Lars Boom (Belkin) was struggling to hang on. In the meanwhile, the gap to Contador kept growing.

On the final section, Boom managed to create a small gap to Nibali and Fuglsang and he soloed his way to stage glory but two other victors crossed the finish line a few moments later as Nibali and Fuglsang now conquered total domination in the GC. Placing one and two. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was distanced with 2.32 minutes

“Well, we lost about 2 and a half minutes to a very strong riding Nibali but we’re still confident. Alberto lost touch with the back wheel of Vincenzo and we simply couldn’t close the gap. Fortunately, Alberto didn’t crash at any point and he didn’t have any punctures and not having any crashes is very important concerning the rest of the race. We’re five days into the race. Alberto is in peak shape and better than he was in Dauphine and we’re going to do some hard mountain stages. So, we’re still absolutely confident but aware that there’s some hard work to be done in order to make it back to the top of the rankings,” says DS, Steven De Jongh.

Alberto is now 19th overall.  - 2.37 minutes behind Nibali

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