Since the route was announced, a piece of traffic-calming road furniture has been added to the original run-in to the sector, which will see high speeds and furious jockeying for position. The new construction made the original route unsafe, according to Thierry Gouvenou, the Tour’s route chief.
“A development has been installed with the aim of improving road safety, but poses safety problems for a cycling peloton, which will most certainly be at high speed when approaching the first cobbled section,” Gouvenou said.
The first sector, outside Bugnicort, will now be run in the opposite direction. The rest of the route remains unchanged.
The 11 cobbled sectors tackled in stage 5 will be the first for the Tour de France since 2018 and were ominously described by Tour director Christian Prudhomme as the most “acrobatic challenge” of the opening week.
Both Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič took time in the spring to get some bone-juddering experience under their belts, and of the two Roglič was the more impressive.