Van Avermaet wins stage five and claims Tour lead

LE LIORAN (France) • Greg van Avermaet grabbed the coveted yellow jersey as he won yesterday's fifth stage of cycling's premier event, the Tour de France.

It was a second stage win for the cobbled classics specialist, who also won a stage last year.

The 31-year-old Belgian attacked countryman Thomas de Gendt 17.4km from the end of the 216km stage from Limoges to Le Lioran to also rip the yellow jersey from Slovak Peter Sagan.

He finished more than 2min 30sec ahead of de Gendt, with Pole Rafal Majka third over five minutes back.

The overall favourites rolled in just behind Majka after an attack from the peloton by Frenchman Romain Bardet 3km from home sparked some action.

Two-time former winner Alberto Contador lost more time, around 30sec, as he continues to recover from injuries suffered in crashes on the first two days.

But reigning champion Chris Froome and chief rival Nairo Quintana came over the line together.

Van Avermaet now leads Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe by 5:11 with Alejandro Valverde of Spain two seconds further back.

With 17.4km left, van Avermaet attacked de Gendt and left him for dead, going after stage glory and the yellow jersey as well, although his compatriot had already done enough to take the King of the Mountains (polka dot) jersey.

Majka, the 2014 King of the Mountains, and fellow Pole Bartosz Huzarski broke free from their two chasing companions, but they had 3min to make up and little chance of catching van Avermaet.

Having worked hard on the first second-category climb, Movistar stopped pushing at the front of the peloton and Sky set a more relaxed tempo on the 4.4km, 7.9 per cent average Col du Perthus.

But by then, van Avermaet's victory was assured as the peloton's gap hovered around the 6min mark without showing much desire to chase down the Belgian.

Bardet did create some late excitement but the final ramp up to the finish was neither steep, nor long enough to create gaps among the favourites, except for Contador.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Van Avermaet wins stage five and claims Tour lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe