Van Avermaet Sprints to Seventh on Tour de France Stage 5 to Keep the Yellow Jersey11. July 2018, Quimper (FRA) — Road Team
Tour de France stage 5 delivered an explosive finale in Quimper with BMC Racing Team holding onto their position at the front of the peloton all day before Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to seventh on the line to secure the yellow jersey for a third day.
The second half of today's undulating course was characterized by five punchy categorized climbs as well as the Côte de la chapelle de la Lorette, the top of which offered riders the chance to claim some bonus seconds, and a steep, narrow final kick up to the finish line that looked set to force gaps on the line.
By the time the race reached the first official climb of the day, the Côte de Kaliforn, the day's early seven-rider breakaway was being held around four minutes up the road with BMC Racing Team in control of the main bunch.
It was on this 1.7km climb, which had an average gradient of 7.1%, that Sylvain Chavanel (Team Direct Énergie) attacked his fellow leaders and as he swept up the KOM points, he was 30 seconds ahead of the chasing group while the gap to the BMC Racing Team-led peloton remained steady at 3'50".
On the approach to the Côte de la Roche du Feu, the third categorized climb, the chasing group split behind Chavanel and three riders eventually joined the lone leader at the front of the race with 62km to go.
At the same time, Michael Schär and Stefan Küng took over the reigns behind and started to set a tempo that pulled the four leaders back to within two minutes heading inside the final 50km of the day.
On the penultimate categorized climb, the 3km long Côte de Menez Quelerc'h, Van Avermaet and Richie Porte remained well-positioned thanks to the work of their teammates who still surrounded them.
Attacks at the head of the race saw Toms Skujins (Trek-Segrefedo), Lilian Calmejane (Team Direct Énergie) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) move into pole position with 45km to go and while Skujins and Calmejane were able to stay in front on the Côte de la Montagne de Locronan, they were ultimately not able to hold off the chasing pack.
Küng continued to lead the BMC Racing Team train as the two leaders were swept up just before the bonus sprint which saw Van Avermaet take two bonus seconds as the race came back together heading into the final 10km.
Another Team Direct Énergie rider, Rein Taaramäe, went on the attack in the closing kilometers of the race but the determination of the whittled-down main bunch behind ensured he was caught quickly.
The roads narrowed quickly with 3km to go and BMC Racing Team's hard work throughout the day paid off with both Van Avermaet and Porte in the first few positions as the road kicked up going under the flamme rouge.
Van Avermaet looked strong as he matched the subsequent bursts of acceleration on the short but sharp climb before sprinting to seventh on the line and securing another day in the yellow jersey.
Porte also finished safely in the first group to move up into 12th overall on the General Classification while Tejay van Garderen remains second, two seconds behind Van Avermaet.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Greg Van Avermaet:
"I was trying to win the stage that's for sure but it was pretty complicated. Phil [Gilbert] went early and he is up there on the GC so I couldn't let him go and I had to ride by myself. Then, I think I went a bit too early on the sprint. I thought the corner was closer to the finish and that's the thing that went wrong I think. However, we gave it a try and we also didn't lose any time with Richie. The team did a perfect job to put us into position in the final."
"It was a really demanding day for a lot of guys and I think the team did a great job all day. We spent a lot of energy but I think on these kind of days you can lose more time than on a mountain stage so it's better to do that. I think we did great today so we will see how it goes tomorrow. Having the yellow jersey gives us a little more space in the peloton and Richie is the kind of rider who likes to be in a good position up at the front all day. We are still focusing on the podium in Paris but will continue to take it day by day and try to make the best results possible as we go along."
"I've already raced here in Finistère this year and it was maybe worse then than it was today because when you're not 100% fit it hurts. But, the guys were fantastic today. They controlled everything and everybody played their part. It was a hot and tough little stage and it's just nice to get through it."
"I felt good today so hopefully tomorrow we can do something. Some of the climbs we did today were just as hard as the Mur de Bretagne, it's just about how fast you are going. Today we raced super fast and it was by far the hardest stage of this Tour so far."
Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"The guys did a great job keeping Richie in front and then Greg was able to be up there to try to go for the stage and was able to keep the jersey and even take some bonus seconds. The priority was to keep Richie safe in front and we did that well. Keeping yellow for another day is a bonus."
"Tomorrow could be more about GC riders so it will be important to try and keep Richie up there with the other contenders again but we know Greg can also try to fight to stay there."
Tour de France
Stage 5: Lorient > Quimper, 204.5km
Top 3: 1. Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) 2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) 3. Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 7. Greg Van Avermaet 18. Richie Porte 31. Tejay van Garderen