That was one of the most memorable stages of the Tour de France that I can remember. Last year's stage that was split by the wind was special, but today, Stage 5 added rain, wind, mud and cobbles into the mix of an already jittery peloton. It was awesome. Not so much for the crashes or withdrawal of the defending champion, but because of the display of pure competition.
We saw real bike racers on the cobbles.
Pure and simple - that was a bike race. Set aside the talk about whether a stage like this belongs in the Tour de France; wind, time trials, mountains, flats, and cobbles are apart of cycling. Although many of the Tour riders felt strongly that this route was uncalled for, it was clear this stage brought together the skills of the best mechanics, the tactics of the best team managers, the quick decision making of the best team staff, the instincts of the best teammates, the brutality of mother nature, and the luck of god, into one exciting stage. What emerged was the iron will of a rider in a yellow jersey.
There is no doubt that Vincenzo Nibali took risks today, but mostly he looked like an animal totally in his element. He looked like a man who found his inner cobbled classic. Just look at the profile footage of him over the cobbles, or his bike handling skills as he passed other riders - it was phenomenal. He fought for and earned his time gap on the other GC contenders and rightfully retained his yellow jersey.
You cannot control weather, luck, or when one rider has a great day on the right day.
Although we don't necessarily wish for crashes as fans, we do wish for great competition in sport. It wasn't always pretty today, but the stage was effective in whittling down the chances that the best bike rider will indeed win the Tour de France. The fact that Talansky, Porte, Valverde, Van Garderen, Contador, Sagan, Kwiatkowski, Mollema and others did so well in today's stage is a testament that they are worthy right along with Nibali. But he and his teammates were simply outstanding today.
Super sad for Chris Froome.
The top-21 from today's stage are not all considered to be cobble classic specialists, but they dominated Stage 5:
|1.||ITA NIBALI Vincenzo||41||ASTANA PRO TEAM||20h 26' 46''|
|2.||DEN FUGLSANG Jakob||42||ASTANA PRO TEAM||20h 26' 48''||+ 00' 02''|
|3.||SVK SAGAN Peter||51||CANNONDALE||20h 27' 30''||+ 00' 44''|
|4.||POL KWIATKOWSKI Michal||74||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||20h 27' 36''||+ 00' 50''|
|5.||SUI CANCELLARA Fabian||163||TREK FACTORY RACING||20h 28' 03''||+ 01' 17''|
|6.||BEL VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen||131||LOTTO-BELISOL||20h 28' 31''||+ 01' 45''|
|7.||FRA GALLOPIN Tony||134||LOTTO-BELISOL||20h 28' 31''||+ 01' 45''|
|8.||AUS PORTE Richie||7||TEAM SKY||20h 28' 40''||+ 01' 54''|
|9.||USA TALANSKY Andrew||91||GARMIN - SHARP||20h 28' 51''||+ 02' 05''|
|10.||ESP VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro||11||MOVISTAR TEAM||20h 28' 57''||+ 02' 11''|
|11.||FRA BARDET Romain||82||AG2R LA MONDIALE||20h 28' 57''||+ 02' 11''|
|12.||USA VAN GARDEREN Tejay||141||BMC RACING TEAM||20h 28' 57''||+ 02' 11''|
|13.||POR COSTA Rui Alberto||111||LAMPRE - MERIDA||20h 28' 57''||+ 02' 11''|
|14.||GBR THOMAS Geraint||8||TEAM SKY||20h 29' 02''||+ 02' 16''|
|15.||FRA PINOT Thibaut||127||FDJ.FR||20h 29' 11''||+ 02' 25''|
|16.||NED DUMOULIN Tom||106||TEAM GIANT-SHIMANO||20h 29' 11''||+ 02' 25''|
|17.||RUS TROFIMOV Yury||29||TEAM KATUSHA||20h 29' 11''||+ 02' 25''|
|18.||NED MOLLEMA Bauke||61||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||20h 29' 13''||+ 02' 27''|
|19.||ESP CONTADOR Alberto||31||TINKOFF-SAXO||20h 29' 23''||+ 02' 37''|
|20.||BEL BAKELANTS Jan||72||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||20h 29' 25''||+ 02' 39''|
|21.||SVK VELITS Peter||149||BMC RACING TEAM||20h 29' 30''||+ 02' 44''|
It is clear that not only Belgians can ride the cobbles. There were fourteen countries represented in the top-20 riders on Stage 5.
|Map of the countries of the top 20 riders in Stage 5, 2014 Tour de France link to map|
Really great photographs at Cycling Tips Tour de France Stage 5 in Photos Photography by Break Through Media and Cor Vos.
Now for some fun photos from the day on Twitter. The day the Tour de France met the cobbles and mud. (Just to be clear I didn't take any of these photos, I am giving credit where credit is due)
|Lars Boom Photo from @ShimanoRoad|
|Vincenzo Nibali Photo from @Felipelect|
|Cyril Lemoine, the polka-dot jersey Photo from @cobblekiller|
|Alberto Contador Photo from @Tinkoff_Saxo|
|Markel Irizar Photo from @Emily_Maye|
|Marcel Kittel Photo from @carcher2K|
|The leading group, Stage 5 Photo from @ACCPIAssocorridori|
|Geraint Thomas leading Richie Porte over the cobbles Photo from @TeamSKY|
|Jacob Fuglsang leads Vincenzo Nibali over the cobbles Photo from @AstanaTeam|
|Movistar Photo from @jjrojillas|
|Conditions of The Day - Stage 5 2014 Tour de France Photo from @Tinkoff_Saxo|
Wild, exciting, chaotic stage in #TDF @albertocontador lost 2"35' to Nibali and now sits 19th 2''37' from the leader pic.twitter.com/BzpDzts2cr
— Tinkoff Saxo (@tinkoff_saxo) July 9, 2014
|Congratulations to Lars Boom!|
That was an awesome race!