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Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 5: Vittel – La planche des belles filles, 160.5km. Fabio Aru’s classy win

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Mont-Saint-MichelIt may seem like scant evidence to base a major assertion upon but from what happened in the Stage One time trial – and yesterday’s first significant ascent of the race, La Planche des Belle Filles, Chris Froome (Sky & GB) has the 2017 Tour de France won barring disasters or acts of God.
Sardinia’s favourite son, Fabio Aru’s win was classy and encouraging in winning the stage; and good to see that Astana have reverted to the classic Italian champion’s jersey – that thing they had Nibali wearing wasn’t the answer.

Not that we’ll see it today, the Italian will be in polka dots thanks to the mountains points he picked up atop La Planche des Belle Filles.

Aru was a surprise in the Dauphine and that injury enforced early season rest may have done him a service, he certainly looked fresh yesterday.

He’s been on the podium in the Giro and won the Vuelta, so he has three weeks in his legs – but as we all know, ‘The Tour is the Tour.’

La planche des belles filles
Fabio Are won the stage solo. Photo©Pierre Froger/ASO

Froome has three Tour wins worth of experience behind him and his team is head and shoulders the strongest; but you have to wish Aru ‘bon chance’ – anything to prevent Sky processions.

There were few surprises on the climb yesterday, with Dan Martin (QuickStep & Birmingham), Richie Porte (BMC & Tasmania), Romain Bardet (AG2R & France) and Simon Yates (Orica & GB) all there or there abouts; Martin even getting the better of third placed Froome.

With Yates taking the white jersey as best young rider off the shoulders of French hope Pierre Latour (AG2R).

Alberto Contador (Trek & Spain), Rafa Majka (Bora & Poland), Louis Meintjes (UAE & RSA) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar & Colombia) were all a little further back than they’d like to be with Quintana’s stone face on the turbo as he warmed down telling it’s own story.

And it does look like Jakob Fuglsang’s (Denmark) Dauphine was but a purple patch – let’s hope he comes back, albeit it should be ‘all for Fabio’ at Astana after yesterday.

Kiwi, George Bennett (Lotto Jumbo) wasn’t a million miles away – remember he won the Tour of California?

La planche des belles filles
The ubiquitous Sky train in action today. Photo©Pierre Froger/ASO

OK, let’s go to the ‘elephant in the room’ – the ‘Sagasassin’ incident – or should it be ‘Cavacide’?

I popped some pictures up on my FaceBook page of the crash and have had dozens of ‘likes’/comments/’shares’ and all I can report is that the overwhelming feeling is that it was a ‘racing incident’ and there was no intent from Sagan and his expulsion was an overreaction.

And there are comments from men like Australian Six Day legend Danny Clark who knows a wee bit about sprinting.

This won’t satisfy the Cav fans – and I did get ‘pelters’ from a few Glasgow Cavanistas but the weight of opinion we’re seeing here at VeloVeritas backs up our thought from minute one that Cav went for a gap that was at best closing rapidly, at worst suicidal.

We don’t apportion ‘blame’ however; when you have some of the fastest and most highly motivated sportsmen in the world with tunnel vision for that finish line and the win – then ‘s##t happens.’

The best decision would have been to relegate Sagan to last on the stage and keep him in the race – he’s a huge loss to the Tour, as is Cav and as was Valverde.

And for all the Cav/Sag debate has anyone looked at Demare’s line in that finish sprint – straight it certainly was not.

But I forgot – he’s French.

Good to see a French stage win early however and Demare is class – no ‘duds’ ever win Milan-Sanremo.

And we have to repeat the ‘conspiracy theories’;

  • Cav knew he wasn’t going to win the stage and couldn’t round the Tour so he decked himself.
  • The ejection of Sagan is a French conspiracy to give Demare a clean run at the green jersey.

Don’t shoot the messengers, we’re only repeating them.

La planche des belles filles
The local farmers got into the TdF spirit, as usual. Photo©Pierre Froger/ASO

Next up? Stage Six, 216 kilometres, Vesoul to Troyes via a sprint at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises home and last resting place of General Charles de Gaulle and two fourth cat. climbs.

Most likely between Demare and Kittel both of who’s teams will have to work harder now that Bora and Dimension Data have no reason to.

A demain.

La planche des belles filles
Your typical TdF wheat field image. Photo©Pierre Froger/ASO

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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