The fifth stage of the Tour de France between Changé and Laval (Mayenne), Wednesday June 30, had airs of déjà vu. Ten months after his astonishing victory at the Planche-des-Belles-Filles (Haute-Saône) – which won him the coronation on the Champs-Elysées – Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) has put the cover back: again knocking out the competition for the outcome of the first individual time trial of this 108e editing.
With an average of 51 km / h, the young Slovenian is 18 seconds ahead of his runner-up of the day, the Swiss Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). He also climbs back to second place in the general classification, eight short seconds behind Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). The Dutchman, who however had little illusions about his chances of keeping the yellow jersey at the end of this Mayenne stage, offers himself the luxury of wearing it one more day on the Grande Boucle.
This fifth step is going to be “Crucial”, prophesied Tadej Pogacar, Tuesday, June 29. Since 2008, we had not seen such a long individual time trial – 27.2 kilometers – in the first week of the Tour. “An offering to the rollers”, for the director of the event, Christian Prudhomme, who then insisted on his wish to “Vary the scenarios and the opportunities to question established positions”.
It was without counting on “Tamau Pogi”, who reinforced from this Wednesday his posture of big favorite to his succession. It must be said that after the first days “Chaotic” in Brittany, marked by falls in the series, its rivals announced in the general standings took the start weakened. He, had been relatively spared by these events, seeing himself however a little delayed by the fall in the final of the third stage, between Lorient and Pontivy (Morbihan), which cost the Tour to the Australian sprinter of Lotto-Soudal, Caleb Ewan. At the start today, the Slovenian was in sixth position in the general classification.
Roglic 1 minute 40 from Pogacar
Limiting the gaps and catching up a bit: that was the goal of Jumbo-Visma leader Primoz Roglic. The Slovenian, who lost the Tour in 2020 on the time trial, had decided to focus much of his preparation on this exercise. He had even come to recognize the two “chronos” of this edition, as early as April in the wake of his victory in the Tour du Pays Basque. In their only time trial this year, in this same Tour of the Basque Country, Primoz Roglic won the stage by beating Pogacar (5e) 28 seconds at the end of 14 kilometers.
But today, he accused a disbursement of more than a minute on the yellow jersey at the start of this fifth stage. And despite a good performance on Wednesday – seventh in the stage at 44 seconds – he is now tenth in the general classification, 1 minute 48 behind the leader “VDP” and 1 minute 40 behind Tadej Pogacar, second overall.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), who had come to make a reconnaissance of the route the day before, does not repeat his feat of 2019. Transcended in Pau, “Loulou” had won in front of pure specialists like Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers ). He finished 14e from the stage to one minute 11. For his part, the Welshman, winner in 2018, thrown to the ground at the start of the third stage and who had dislocated a shoulder, ranks 16e at 1 minute 18. The Belgian Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), whom many observers saw in yellow this Wednesday evening, finished fourth in the stage 30 seconds behind Tadej Pogacar… But climbed to the third step of the provisional general podium .
Tomorrow, the peloton should be able to recover a little from its emotions with a flat stage of some 160 kilometers between Tours and Châteauroux.
Our selection of articles on the 2021 Tour de France