Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) during stage 5 of the 2022 Tour de France.

GC winners and losers after cobbled carnage of stage 5

It was a very good day for Tadej Pogačar and a very bad day for a few others, as the GC got a bit of a sorting out on the cobbles.

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The long-awaited stage 5, flush with cobbled sectors unfamiliar to much of the Tour de France peloton, brought several riders down to earth with a resounding thud. Some of the heaviest fallers were, inevitably, a number of general classification favourites.

While the invincible Tadej Pogačar seemed to glide over the pavé impervious to misfortune on his way to seventh on the stage, nearly every single one of his rivals had some bad luck to deal with between Lille and Wallers-Arenberg.

In short, stage 5 asked some big questions with implications for the rest of the race, and as the first mountains beckon, we’re beginning to get some answers.

General classification after stage 5

  1. Wout van Art
  2. Neilson Powless +13
  3. Edvald Boasson Hagen +14
  • (4th) Tadej Pogačar +19
  • (7th) Jonas Vingegaard +40
  • (8th) Adam Yates +48
  • (9th) Tom Pidcock +49
  • (10th) Geraint Thomas +50
  • (12th) Aleksandr Vlasov +56
  • (17th) Dani Martínez +1:09
  • (18th) Romain Bardet +1:10
  • (19th) Nairo Quintana +1:14
  • (20th) David Gaudu +1:15
  • (21st) Jakob Fuglsang +1:20
  • (22nd) Enric Mas +1:21
  • (37th) Damiano Caruso +1:59
  • (39th) Guillaume Martin +2:07
  • (40th) Rigoberto Uran +2:18
  • (42nd) Thibaut Pinot +2:25
  • (44th) Primož Roglič +2:36
  • (67th) Ben O’Connor +4:34
  • DNF Jack Haig

While some of those gaps look cavernous and would make sense as the results of Paris-Roubaix itself, the vast majority have actually held firm, bearing in mind that most rolled in with the yellow jersey. Losses were, as they say, limited.

The only movers and shakers in the end were Tadej Pogačar, Primož Roglič, Ben O’Connor and Jack Haig. While Neilson Powless and Edvald Boasson Hagen rocket up into the top three by virtue of breakaway success.

There’s nothing Pogačar can’t do

Maybe there’s a parallel universe in which Pogačar was the one to get his chain stuck, to crash, to suffer a badly timed puncture. Unlike Jumbo-Visma who experienced something of this fate today, that version of the 23-year-old phenom won’t have had a teammate’s bike at his disposal, nor their strength and power to pace him back into contention.

Pogačar was flying.

But in this universe, his burgeoning talent and astronomical good fortune held strong, and Pogačar flew over the cobbles with yet another dominant display. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) was all of us as he gave the young Slovenian a pat on the shoulder after leading the peloton through the first of 11 sectors. Pogačar was not just there to make it safely through, he would put his shoulder to the grindstone if he had to, or if the opportunity presented itself.

After going clear with Jasper Stuyven, Pogačar was the only GC favourite to finish in the top 10 on the stage, and though he only put 13 seconds into his rivals, he proved to them all that he was not messing around. And while they’re left choking on his dust, the young champion’s morale is sky-high.

One thing Pogačar can’t do? Surprise anyone with the scope of his talent.

Jumbo-Visma’s leadership dilemma solved?

Vingegaard was the first of Jumbo-Visma’s GC leaders to be struck by misfortune, succumbing to a mechanical issue outside 35 km to go. He lost time with a frenzy of bike changes, trying out two teammates’ bikes before finally getting one of his own from the team car.

“I bumped into another guy and something happened with my chain. It was stuck,” Vingegaard said after the stage. “Looking back maybe I should have just stopped and taken it out, but it’s bike racing and I was stressed.”

The young Dane spent the next 35-odd kilometres chasing with the help of several teammates called back to lend a hand, including yellow jersey-wearer Wout van Aert (who’d had a spill of his own much earlier in the stage).

Wout van Aert was called back to help Vingegaard regain contact, and still managed to hold onto the yellow jersey.

While Vingegaard thanks his lucky stars, Roglič will have something closer to ‘what might have been’ on his mind.

Just as Vingegaard was beginning his chase 40 seconds behind, Roglič was still in the peloton with Christophe Laporte, but just minutes after his teammate’s mishap, Roglič had one of his own, and with far greater consequences.

An unfortunate crash resulted in a dislocated shoulder for the 2020 Tour runner-up, and by the time he’d put his own arm back in its socket, his team had flown past with Vingegaard. He eventually got going and after a brief solo effort, Tiesj Benoot and Nathan van Hooydonck appeared to help out. But the deficit was too great.

Roglič finished in a group 2:59 after stage winner Simon Clarke, 51 seconds after a marauding Pogačar, and, perhaps more significantly, 1:55 after teammate Vingegaard. He can also expect to be fairly stiff after today’s antics, so it looks very much like the Jumbo-Visma toasting fork is down a prong. All-in for Vingegaard?

Aussie woes (and wins)

There was delight for one Australian, Simon Clarke taking a surprise victory just months after signing a late contract with Israel-Premier Tech. But for GC hopefuls Jack Haig and Ben O’Connor, it was a day to forget.

It was a hard day out on the pavé for Ben O’Connor.

Jack Haig came to his third Tour de France as Bahrain Victorious co-leader alongside Damiano Caruso, hoping for a better go at it after crashing out on stage 3 last year.

But it wasn’t to be. We think he came down in the crash that held up the Ineos Grenadiers, but it’s not absolutely clear and there were no images of the aftermath. Just as well, perhaps, because the post-stage medical report described some very unpleasant injuries: “Left elbow wound and significant erosion over the entire back. Evacuated to Valenciennes hospital.”

Ben O’Connor, on the other hand, fell victim to the Tour’s first-week demons, heavily affected by bad luck in the last 50 kilometres. A puncture held him up and with few teammates around and/or without the legs to help, O’Connor had to take matters into his own hands.

But there’s only so much a cobble-averse climber can do, and his gap went from a minute 50 kilometres out to over three minutes at the finish, dropping to 67th overall.

One silver lining is that 4:34 is a much longer leash and a stage win becomes a much more likely opportunity for O’Connor.

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