Australia’s Simon Clarke claimed his maiden Tour de France stage victory as the early breakaway remained at the front. The Israel-Premier Tech veteran, aged 35, pipped Taco van der Hoorn on the line while Edvald Boasson Hagen rounded out the podium. Wout van Aert who crashed before the cobbled sector and waited for Jonas Vingegaard who had punctured retained the yellow jersey by the margin of 13 seconds over breakaway member Neilson Powless.
SIX RIDERS IN THE LEAD, INCLUDING MAGNUS CORT ONCE AGAIN
176 riders started stage 5 in Lille Métropole at 13.59. Polka dot jersey holder Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) went on the attack again even without any KOM point on offer. Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) and Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) went with him. Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) launched a counter-attack. He was joined by Neilson Powless (EF Education-Easypost) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM). They formed a six-man breakaway at km 21.5. Van der Hoorn won the intermediate sprint at Mérignies (km 37.2) where the deficit of the bunch was 2’40’’.
VINGEGAARD PUNCTURES, ROGLIC CRASHES
Van Aert crashed in the middle of the bunch at km 57. He was back to the pack before the first cobbled sector where a maximum time difference of 4’15’’ was recorded at km 75. The time difference was 3’ between the first and second cobbled sectors. Ben O’Connor was the first of the GC contenders affected by a mechanical 50km before the end. While stage favourites like Peter Sagan and Mathieu van der Poel had got dropped, Jonas Vingegaard sustained a flat tyre with 37km remaining. Van Aert who was also in difficulty waited for his Danish team-mate. Next on the ground was Primoz Roglic before the cobbled sector 5.
The leading group was reduced to five men after Gougeard got dropped with 26km to go. Jasper Stuyven attacked on the cobbled sector 3. Pogacar joined him, looking really at ease albeit without any team-mate alongside him. Boasson Hagen, Cort, Powless, Van der Hoorn and Clarke reached the 10km to go mark with 45’’ lead over Pogacar and Stuyven. Cort lost contact on the last cobbled sector with 5km to go. Powless who was the virtual Maillot Jaune in the finale surprised his breakaway companions by attacking them from behind under the red flame of the last kilometre but he got overhauled with 400 metres to go. Boasson Hagen took a bit of an advantage, then Van der Hoorn looked to have it but Clarke pipped him on the line. The Australian was already in the breakaway of stage 5 to Arenberg in 2014 but it didn’t work out that time. Thanks to the huge amount of work Van Aert produced at the service of Vingegaard along with their team-mates, the Belgian retained the overall lead while Roglic lost over two minutes to Pogacar.
Simon Clarke: "I thought today was maybe the day..."
“I mean, after winter I had, I had no team and Israel-Premier Tech rang me up. I was given that chance… Today is the reality check that everything can happen if you take the opportunity. The first few days of the Tour, I was looking after the team. But this morning, the team director said: ‘Clarkey, today is a breakaway day!’ The stages I won at La Vuelta and the pink jersey I had at the Giro all came in the first week of the race. So I thought today was maybe the day… But I still can’t believe it. I passed Taco less than 50 meters to go. I gave my bike the biggest throw I could. My stages at La Vuelta came in similar finishes. I chose to sit back and hope for the other guys to crack before. I really had to chase Edvald down. We’ve been sprinting since the last corner. I went as hard as I could until the line. I moved to Europe for racing when I was 16 and I’ll turn 36 on the second rest day of the Tour, so after 20 years, now the dream comes true. Hi to everyone in Australia and thanks for the support through all those years!”