Thursday, 6 July 2017
2017 Tour de France: Aru wins, Froome in Yellow. Stage 6 Preview
Stage 5 result: fine and convincing win by Fabio Aru
Overall standing: Chris Froome takes Yellow from Geriant Thomas
The first mountain stage was won in convincing fashion by Fabio Aru who attacked with some two kilometres to go. Prior to this Team Sky had been setting a fast pace up the Planche des Belles Filles. After hesitating a while Chris Froome set off after Aru with Richie Porte, Dan Martin and Romain Bardet, while dropping Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Geraint Thomas.
After initially starting to catch Aru, the Froome quartet eased up and started looking at each other, while Aru motored on up. This allowed some of the dropped riders to close the gap on the quartet.
Aru won the stage, his first TdF stage win by 16 seconds from Dan Martin who finished strongly with Froome next (20 seconds) and Porte at the same time. Other riders Bardet (24 secs), Simon Yates (26), Rigoberto Uran and Contador (26), Quintana (34) and Thomas (40). Froome now takes over the Yellow Jersey with Thomas in second place. It was clear in the ride up the Planche des Belles Filles that Froome was Sky's protected rider. Will Froome now wear Yellow all the way to Paris?
Although dangerous to read too much into this first mountain stage, it does look like Fabio Aru, Dan Martin and Richie Porte are Chris Froome's biggest rivals with Aru just (14 seconds behind) and Martin on 25. There are now question marks over the form of Contador (52 seconds down) and Quintana (54 secs).
You have to question the tactics of Richie Porte and BMC yesterday who spent a large part of the 160 kilometres leading the peloton chase of the strong breakaway group using up a lot of energy. Although the time gap yo-yoed between about 2.50 and 1.30 it was back to about 2.40 as the final climb approached and other teams joined in. BMC wasted a lot of energy and Porte didn't make an attack on the climb. Although he finished with the same time as Froome it was Froome who got third place and the four bonus seconds.
Stage 6 Preview: Vesoul to Troyes: 216 kms
This is going to be a long, hot, fairly flat stage with a couple of Category 4 climbs. I expect a break to go early only to be swallowed up close to the finish where the sprinters will fight it out. The finish is flat but with a roundabout around 120 metres from the line, which could make the sprint dangerous. Hopefully there won't be any big crashes.
Favourites today: Marcel Kittel, Arnaud Démare, Michael Matthews and André Griepel. In addition to getting the stage win the sprinters will be up for the Green Jersey competition in the absence of Peter Sagan.