SAN DIEGO, July 9, 2014 – “The day’s over. The Tour starts new now because many things have changed.”
Tour veteran Fabian Cancellara of UCI Trek predicted “chaos” on this stage and he was right, summing up Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France as the dreaded route over the cobblestones became even more treacherous with the addition of rain throughout the day.
Cyclists not used to riding on road bikes over the rough terrain struggled, slipped, and in many cases, crashed. Most were happy simply to make it through the stage. Critics wondered why this tricky stage was included so early in this 21 day race, especially after looking at the day’s results.
Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome of Team Sky is out of the race. He started the race with a heavily wrapped and braced left wrist after crashing the day before. He hit the pavement twice early in the stage, and had to declare his Tour over for the year, a huge disappointment.
It blew open the possibilities for other GC contenders like Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Americans Andrew Talansky and Tejay Van Garderen, and long shot Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.
Wearing the yellow jersey inspires the rider who wears it. Current leader Nibali took advantage of the situation, riding the cobbles beautifully, gaining time on his rivals by finishing second on the stage and extending his lead. Nibali proved he is a well-rounded rider by coping well with the conditions and the stress of the stage.
Dutch rider Lars Boom of Belkin Pro Cycling, a cyclocross racing champion, might have been the only cyclist who enjoyed the ride today, elated as he crossed the finish line to win his first ever stage of the Tour de France.
Following behind Boom and Nibali in a group one minute and one second behind were Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara; GC contenders Talansky, Valverde, Rui Costa, and Richie Porte of Team Sky who is now the team leader with the departure of Froome are within two minutes of the leader Nibali.
Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo struggled to stay with the leaders, falling 2:37 behind and sitting in 19th place.
Van Garderen of BMC Racing was critical after the stage.“It was insane. I hear Froomie’s out of the Tour. You guys got your drama but it takes the whole race down a notch when you have a favorite who’s out. In theory it makes the race more exciting at the end, but the ASO (international cycling association) needs to rethink putting these kind of stages in the race.”
Nibali remains the Tour leader in yellow with a surprising lead. Peter Sagan retains the green sprinter’s jersey as well as the best young rider’s white jersey. Cyril Lemoine of Confidis keeps the polka dot jersey.
Cyclists will use Stage 6 to recover both mentally and physically from Wednesday’s wild ride. It is a long stage from Arras to Reims with a few minor Category 4 climbs. Ambitious competitors with gas left in the tank may try for a long breakaway victory, and the leaders will be glad to let them do it.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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