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Boom takes a fantastic solo victory on a hugely dramatic day on the cobbles while Nibali drops his rivals and gains more than 2.30 on Contador; Froome crashes out of the race

Photo: Belkin Pro Cycling Team

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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JAKOB FUGLSANG

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TEAM VISMA | LEASE A BIKE

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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09.07.2014 @ 18:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lars Boom (Belkin) took the biggest win of his career when he conquered the Paris-Roubaix cobbles on a hugely dramatic fifth stage of the Tour de France, arriving solo at the finish in front of the Arenberg finish. The other big winner was race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who used a strong team to blow the race apart, finished third on the stage and strengthened his hold on the leader’s jersey by making huge time gains on all his rivals. Chris Froome (Sky) crashed twice and abandoned the race after his final tumble.

 

Lars Boom has long been described as a future Paris-Roubaix winner but so far the Dutchman has been unable to live up to his lofty promises. Today he proved his great potential when he won the highly anticipated fifth stage of the Tour de France that included several sections of Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

 

Rain and wind blew the race to pieces as several crashes constantly split the peloton but Boom always avoided the trouble, staying near the front and making all the crucial selections. Going into the final two pave sectors, he found himself in a 12-rider lead group that was being driven forward by an impressive Astana team.

 

The Kazakh squad had no less than three riders in the group, race leader Vincenzo Nibali, Jakob Fugslang and Lieuwe Westra who had been part of the early breakaway, and found itself in a great position as Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was the only other GC rider in the group. Behind, a big group with most of the race favourites, including a suffering Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), was already more than 2 minutes behind and continued to lose ground.

 

At this point, the race had already lost its biggest favourite as Chris Froome had crashed twice before the race had even reached the cobbles and after his second incident, he abandoned the race, clearly in a lot of pain. Instead, the British team shifted their attention to Richie Porte who ended up being one of the winners of the day.

 

On the penultimate pave sector, Westra set a brutal pace that drew clear the Astana trio. Always looking as the strongest rider in the group, Boom easily bridged the gap while Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) were both unable to match the speed.

 

Westra sacrificed himself for his teammates while Saga, Cancellara, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) formed the nearest chase group. As Westra had fallen off the pace, Boom attacked on the final pave sector and rode away from his Astana rivals to take a hugely convincing solo victory.

 

19 seconds later Fuglsang and Nibali crossed the line as the big GC winners of the day while Sagan beat Cancellara in the sprint for fourth. Having been set back a bit earlier, Kwiatkowski made a big comeback to cross the line in 7th as another big winner among the GC contenders.

 

Behind, Contador was struggling and he could not even keep up with the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Tejay van Garderen, Rui Costa and Thibaut Pinot in the finale. The Spaniard ended up losing more than 2.30 to Nibali and was one of several big loser of the day.

 

Driven forward by Geraint Thomas, Porte jumped from group to group in the finale and ended up as another winner of the day, moving into 8th in the overall standings. Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) did even better and now finds himself in 6th.

 

The race should calm down a bit in tomorrow’s sixth stage which is a mostly flat affair ending in Reims. Only two small category 4 climbs will challenge the riders and we can expect a big bunch sprint on the boulevard in Reims.

 

A feared stage

The Tour de France continued with one of its most exciting stages as the riders were set to travel over 155.5km from Ypres to Arenberg Porte-du-Hainaut. While completely flat, the stage contained no less than 9 pavé sectors in the second half that were set to split the peloton to pieces.

 

As it was raining heavily all day, the organizers were forced to alter the course, removing two pave sectors from the route and reducing the distance to 153.5km. However, there were still plenty of challenges for the 194 remaining riders who took off under torrential rain.

 

An aggressive start

Right from the start, the attacking started, with Tony Martin (OPQS) making the first move. Ben King, Westra, Samuel Dumoulin, Marcus Burghardt, Jens Voigt and Simon Clarke were among the early attackers but for some time, no one managed to get clear.

 

After 5km of racing, Rein Taaramae attacked and he was joined by Dumoulin. Later Janier Acevedo and Clark also made the junction and finally a group with Martin, Westra, Mathew Hayman, Tony Gallopin and Burghardt also made it across.

 

A nervous peloton

The 9 riders worked well together but as the peloton was extremely nervous and all the team wanted to stay near the front, it took a long time for them to build a gap. After 20km of racing, they were only 1.20 while Brice Feillu (Bretagne) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) made a failed attempt to bridge the gap.

 

NetApp-Endura was among the teams to feature prominently near the front but there was no chase going on. Instead, the speed was kept high by the extreme battle for position.

 

Froome goes down

After 33km of racing, Cedric Pineau (FDJ) and Froome went down in a crash. The Brit seemed to be okay but took some time to get going and it took even longer time before he got some assistance from his teammates. At that point, he was already more than a minute behind and it took a long time for him to rejoin the peloton.

 

In the break, Martin and Acevedo both went down and while the latter fell back to the peloton, Martin tried to chase back. He picked up Dumoulin who suffered a puncture, and the duo finally managed to get back to the front.

 

Kristoff crashes

BMC asked Burghardt to drop back to the peloton that was constantly around 1.30. Afte r50km of racing, one of the favourites for the stage, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) went down and he didn’t get any help to rejoin the group.

 

The peloton finally took a small breather which allowed to gap to grow to 3.00. That was too much for Cannondale who wanted Sagan to win the stage and so Jean-Marc Marino, Alessandro De Marchi and Elia Viviani started to chase hard.

 

More bad luck for Kristoff

At that point, Kristoff had a mechanical and as the peloton was splitting due to the many turns, he found himself off the back with a group of climbers (and Arnaud Demare) and never rejoined the peloton.

 

André Greipel, Sebastien Minard and Demare were the next riders to go down while Cannondale continued to set a hard pace. However, the real drama happened 70km from the finish when riders readied themselves for the first pave.

 

Froome abandons

A crash in a roundabout brought down the likes of Valverde and van Garderen who both got assistance from most of their teammates. Meanwhile, Tinkoff-Saxo took control of the peloton that had now split to pieces as they wanted to reel in a small group with most of the Cannondale team and Costa that had got a small gap.

 

At that point, Froome went down for the second time and this time there was no coming back. The defending champion stepped into his team car and left the race.

 

Cannondale up the pace

The Cannondale group was caught as Bennati led the peloton over the first pave sector.  He got some assistance from Marco Marcato (Cannondale) while a group with Costa and Talansky managed to rejoin the bunch that was down to just 29 riders.

 

Behind, BMC led a second group with van Garderen while Movistar was on the front of a third bunch with Valverde. Cannondale set the pace in the main group with Kristijan Koren and Marcato.

 

Points for Sagan

Sagan was allowed to win the sprint of the peloton to take 8th in the intermediate sprit while Westra had taken first place uncontested. The BMC and Movistar groups joined forces and with 53km to go, they rejoined the peloton.

 

On the next pave, Hayman upped the pace in the front group which caused Taaramae to fall off. Behind, Sebastian Langeveld set the pace for Garmin-Sharp before Sep Vanmarcke took over for Belkin.

 

Contador struggles

The classics specialist split the peloton to pieces and as they exited the sector, he found himself in a group with the likes of Sagan, Fuglsang, Nibali, Kwiatkowski and Boom. Contador was suffering a lot and found himself in a group with several teammates far behind the leaders.

 

A group with Talansky, van den Broeck and Cancellara joined the Nibali group and now Lotto and Astana started to work hard with Lars Bak, Dmitriy Gruzdev and Maxim Iglinskiy. They constantly gained ground on the Contador group while van Garderen was in a group in between.

 

Belkin prove their strength

On the next pave sector, Vanmarcke and Boom escaped on their own while Talansky and van den Broeck both crashed out of the group. Sagan led the chase while Nibali found himself in a group further back. In the Contador group, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo were riding hard to limit the losses for Contador and Valverde.

 

Westra dropped back to assist Nibali who rejoined the Sagan group while Dumoulin crashed out of the front group. The Contador group was now more than 1 minute behind and had caught van Garderen’s group, meaning that BMC also started to chase.

 

Bad luck for Vanmarcke

With 28km to go, the Nibali group caught the front group and now Clarke sacrificed himself completely for Keukeleire and Hayman. He swapped turns with Westra for a little while but when they hit the next pave, OPQS took over.

 

Vanmarcke was unfortunate to puncture out of the group as Trentin set the pace. Moments later, Sagan, Boom, Kwiatkowski and Fuglsang got a gap while Nibali led the next group.

 

A 12-rider front group

Boom took off on his own bout was brought back by the Sagan trio while Westra did an impressive job to bring his ground back to the front. Contador was now 2 minutes behind the Nibali group that was made up of Sagan, Boom, Cancellara, Kwiatkowski, Trentin, Renshaw, Keukeleire, Hayman, Lemoine, Westra, Fuglsang, Nibali.

 

On the next pave, Porte and Geraint Thomas attacked from the Contador group and quickly bridged the gap to the Talansky group that was in between the two main groups. A bit further up the road, van den Broeck was the main name in another group.

 

Boom takes off

Westra rode so hard that the Astana trio got clear but Boom managed to bridge the gap. Behind, Keukeleire, Sagan, Cancellara and Lemoine joined forces but they continued to lose time to the leaders.

 

Westra sacrificed himself for his teammates before dropping back to the chasers and the front trio worked well together until they hit the final pave. Here Boom proved his skills by riding away from everyone and he held on to take a big solo win.

 

19 seconds later Fuglsang led Nibali across the line while Sagan beat Cancellara in the sprint for fourth. Over the next minutes, all the favourites followed in different groups, with Contador being one of the big losers.

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