This article originally appeared on VeloNews
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) won the 2021 Tour de France stage 5 time trial and moved into second place on the general classification.
“Today was a really good day for me. I was a really good day today. I didn’t do any mistakes. It was perfect weather for me,” said Pogačar. “Sadly some guys had wet roads but luckily I had perfect conditions. Also, the temperature for me was perfect. So today was a really good day for me.”
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) defended his overall lead on a heroic race against the clock, surprising even himself.
“I surprised myself today. I have to thank the team. We worked ’til midnight to get the best position on the bike. It was one of my best days on the bike,” said van der Poel. “I was able to push myself beyond my limits today and I’m proud of what I did. I saved some energy [to] really force myself toward the end. I needed to keep something in the tank. When I said yesterday I would lose the jersey, it was not a lie.”
How it happened
Mikel Bjerg (UAE-Team Emirates) posted the early best time when he started in dry conditions early on in the start list, and was in the hot seat for the better part of the day.
As riders rolled out of the start house, weather conditions worsened throughout the day, making the 27.5km route, which had more than 300m elevation gain, very challenging.
The final two kilometers were very technical, and roads had an abundance of paint for traffic management, making them more slippery when wet than the unpainted road.
Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), the winner of the individual time trial at the 2021 Paris-Nice was on a brand new model Cannondale SuperSlice time trial bike. He nearly slid out on a very wet, 90-degree right turn, but made an amazing save and stayed upright.
Brendan McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates), the former world junior time trial champion, crashed on the slick roads and finished on his spare TT bike.
Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-Nippo) came through the finish line 15 seconds ahead of his teammate Bissegger, slotting into second overall.
When time trial specialist Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) came through the first time check, he was the fastest rider by more than 11 seconds, and would stop the clock as the fastest rider at the time by 36 seconds.
Improving conditions, faster times
As racing conditions improved — cooling temperatures, decreasing wind, and drying roads — GC favorite Richie Porte came through the finish in 3rd place. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) came through the second time check with the second-fastest time.
Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) rolled down the start ramp, on the course, and through the first time check, he was 10 seconds ahead of all others.
As the GC favorites came through the time checks, the overall classification changed as each rider went down the start chute, and through the two on-course time checks.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) came through the second time check in fourth place, and his finishing time slotted him into fourth place overall when he stopped the clock.
Pogačar blitzed the course, and came through the second time check 17 seconds faster than any other rider.
Van der Poel, who had previously said he had never spent any time in a wind tunnel, was just 22 seconds in arrears at the second time check, but still ahead on the overall.
Racing in his first time trial since recovering from a bout with appendicitis prior to the Tour, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) managed to ride into 4th place on the day, elevating him to third overall.
While Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) pulled out all the stops to try to move onto the top step, his time trial dropped him into fourth on the general classification.
What’s to come
Thursday’s 160.6km stage 6 from Tours to Chateauroux is similar to that of the 2013 stage from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond.
The finish is at the end of a flat, 1,600m straight on the eight-meter-wide Avenue de la Châtre.
This stage will be another opportunity for the sprinter, and for Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) to edge closer to Eddy Merckx’s 34 Tour de France stage wins.
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