Tour de France Stage 5 Preview: A Day for the Time Trial Specialists
Stage 5 – Changé to Laval Espace Mayenne – 27.2km – Wednesday, June 30
Stage 5 brings the first of two individual time trials in this year’s Tour de France and the longest first-week ITT since 2012 when Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins won Stage 9 ahead of the Tour’s first Rest Day (and after the first mountain stage).
The 27km stage begins in the north-western commune of Changé and heads further north toward Saint-Germain-le-Fouilloux. Once they turn east, the riders should benefit from a slight tailwind through the first time check in Saint-Jean-sur-Mayenne. The course is more exposed here, making this a stage for the Tour’s time trial specialists, powerful riders able to push a big gear on rolling roads. After the second time check in Bonchamp-lès-Laval, the stage makes a sharp turn west, where a headwind should face the riders as they approach the finish in Laval. Riders who don’t pace themselves well could blow up here, losing time on their way back to Laval.
The stage isn’t very long, but given the rolling course, climbers could lose 2 to 3 minutes, making this a potential GC showdown that will determine how riders and teams tackle the Alps at the end of the week. Had they not crashed in the Tour’s opening stages, it would have been a perfect stage for Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers), but the injuries they’ve sustained could limit their ability to take full advantage of an opportunity to distance themselves from the other contenders.
As far as the yellow jersey is concerned, we’ve never really seen Mathieu van der Poel target a time trial. Perhaps the yellow jersey will inspire him, but with proven time trialists Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) only 8 and 31 seconds behind him, respectively, he might have his hands full.
Riders to Watch
Van Aert is a top contender. As one of the sport’s best time trialists, the Belgian is perfectly suited for a course like this and has the added incentive of perhaps pulling on the yellow jersey at the end of the day. Other contenders include Switzerland’s Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) and Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), both accomplished time trialists who have likely been targeting this stage since the start of the Tour. We’re also keeping our eyes on young American Brendan McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), a former ITT world champion at the under-23 level who’s been targeting this stage as well.
When To Watch
The rider in yellow, van der Poel is the last rider to start the stage, and the majority of the favourites leave within half an hour of him, if you want to watch the battle for Yellow, it will all take place towards the end of the stage.