After four days on flat roads, the riders got their first taste of the mountains in the Massif Central on the stage 5 216 km route from Limoges to Le Lioran.
In the Tour kitchen Gab’s prepared duck fillet with porcini mushrooms and green peppercorn sauce. Er, Gabs, I’ve run a few checks over the recipe and no butter – again. What happened to the supply from Normandy? Have you been secretly gnawing away on the butter all this time? ‘Year of the butter.’ Yeah, maybe for YOU Gabs!!!
Robbie dashed to the caravan of commentary after catching up with Tomo. Robbie described the ‘arsephalt’ surface of the road as being a bit rough.
The temperature had been steadily rising all morning and Robbie confessed that he would have liked a dip in a creek and a nanna-nap on the grass on a hot day when he was racing.
That may have been you Robbie put the nine man early breakaway wasn’t taking this stage lying down.
Andriy Grivko, Rafal Majka, Cyril Gautier, Greg Van Avermaet, Serge Pauwels, Bartosz Huzarski, Thomas De Gendt, Romain Sicard and Florian Vachon built a lead on a peloton happy to sit back while the breakies knocked themselves out. The lead bunch split again with Greg, Grivko and De Gendt taking off up the road.
At around 73 km to go GVA, Grivko and De Gendt had built a 15 minute lead and wondered if the peloton had stopped for a quick dip in the creek and a nanna-nap. It was clear the breakaway would survive but there was some tough climbing ahead.
Phil and Paul caught Robbie and Mattie at about 50km to go. Phil looked at the geography of the Massif Central and worried about the 6 million year old puys or extinct volcanoes rumbling back to life during the stage. Paul reassured Phil that, “there are ‘happy geologists’ taking a look at the plugs of extinct volcanoes.” Let’s hope they don’t pull any.
Paul was more concerned with the ‘heavy’ roads of the region slowing down the bikes. Perhaps they should have been made from lighter arsephalt?
The Skybots turn the tables on the Moviestars
At 35km to go the peloton, sensing it’d better hurry up or fall outside the cut-off time, stepped on the gas led by the Moviestars, who gave the Skybots a very Hollywood slap in the face.
Grivko couldn’t hang on to GVA and De Gendt on the climb of the Puy Mary. Back in the peloton Peter Sagan cracked and kissed goodbye to yellow as he was dropped. Sagan was still smiling for the cameras, or was he hiding a grimace?
A stage like today can be pretty tough for a sprinter and Paul noted of the climbs, “if we were in a hot air balloon we’d be throwing out the sandbags to get height”. We’ll be needing to turn off the hot air if we ever want to get back down again.
The Skybots turned the tables on the Moviestars giving them a slap or two. Meanwhile Julian Alaphilippe, (currently second in the GC standings) was, in the classic words of Paul, “fighting with his machine.”
Paul said GVA had 'a job in hand' to get the yellow jersey but he got the better of De Gendt and soloed away on the Col de Perthus. The ‘magnet of the maillot juane’ drew him ever closer to the finish. There was one tricky right hand turn that, according to Phil, if you didn’t make it you’d “go in for the full on barbecue”, but GVA went on to win the stage and slip on the golden fleece for the first time.
You could say it was a massif win for GVA, and on a sprayed BMC bike too. Previously, as Phil noted, the BMC team had ridden naked carbon.