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Tour de France

Tour de France: Jumbo-Visma lick wounds after cobbles

The team must now regroup after its yellow jersey aspirations took a hit on stage 5.

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Highs in the Tour de France are fleeting. Tuesday’s winning and swinging Jumbo-Visma team encountered a much more troubled Paris-Roubaix stage on Wednesday in the Tour de France. The team’s three leaders all crashed at some point in the 153km long stage, although none crashed on the cobbles. The Dutch team was forced to make choices in order to limit the losses. Wout van Aert somehow managed to hold on to his race leader’s yellow jersey, in the end losing only 15 seconds, the same as team GC rider Jonas Vingegaard. Slovenian challenger Primoz Roglič ended up being the biggest victim, losing more than two minutes on his compatriot: two-time defending champion Tadej Pogačar.

Yellow jersey Wout van Aert was the first to crash as the pace picked up in the peloton, in between the intermediate sprint — where he picked up the necessary points — and the first cobbled section. Van Aert explained he mentally failed to fight for positioning and decided to drop back in the group.  The Belgian winner of stage 4 in Dunkerque suddenly tangled with teammate Steven Kruijswijk. Shortly after getting back on his bike he was distracted and nearly crashed into the DSM team car which had been forced to brake hard. Wout bridged back up to the main group but failed to throw himself into the mix and fight for his position, as he said in the post-race press conference.

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As the 11 pavé sectors were being tackled several riders punctured or crashed away and suddenly several Jumbo-Visma riders were running across the street between the villages of Émerchicourt and Abscon when Jonas Vingegaard had a mechanical. Teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck stopped to help him out but the 25-year-old Danish GC-rider decided to take his bike. Van Hooydonck is 1.93m (6’3″) and Vingegaard 1.75m (5’7″) so that ended up being a no-go as he was unable to sit down on the saddle. At that point he was surrounded by three teammates and he stopped again to get a bike that fit him better. He suddenly spotted the Jumbo-Visma team car and ran across the road to take his spare bike and start the chase on the peloton. “We suddenly saw our riders running across the road. They have to make decisions with a heartbeat of 200. It’s only normal that you’re not always making the best call,” director sportif Grischa Niermann said.

Vingegaard acknowledged that it wasn’t easy to make the right decision at that point of the race. “It was a stressful bunch,” he said. “Everyone was nervous. Another rider and I bumped into each other and I think he hit my front shifter. My chain dropped and got stuck. I took another bike. In hindsight, I should’ve stopped and pulled the chain out. Maybe I was panicking. I was stressed. I was nervous.”

At that moment nothing was lost and the Danish rider got a nice train to help him back on track. “Not everything was going up in smoke,” Vingegaard said. “There was still a long way to go to the finish. There was still a chance that we could come back. I had the best helpers in the world for this. At first I had Nathan, Tiesj and Wout pulling for me.”

Five kilometers later, the situation got worse. A hay bale that featured as road protection at the back-end of a roundabout had been touched. Stefan Küng was leading the peloton and narrowly avoided a crash but the hay bale had now moved into the middle of the ideal line, causing several riders to crash. Primož Roglič was among the casualties. “I didn’t see it very well but I think a motorbike touched the protection and then it was in the middle of the road,” Roglič explained. “I dislocated my right shoulder. I couldn’t put it immediately back in. I needed to sit down on a chair of a spectator and use a technique to pull it down to get it back in. I knew what to do.” Meanwhile the chase group with Vingegaard was blasting by.

“When Primož crashed, Nathan and Tiesj waited for him,” Vingegaard said. “I had Wout and Christophe. They did an amazing job to get the gap down to only 15 seconds. I have to thank them a lot for that. This stage was quite fun but it was a shit outcome. It’s a pity we lose time. Primož crashed, I had a mechanical. I lost only 15 seconds to Pogačar. I have to be happy with that, knowing how it looked at one point. It could’ve been worse but for Primož it’s a big loss. Now we’ll have to talk about all this in the meeting and see what we can do. I’m confident in my shape. I’m confident we can do something good when we get to the mountains.”

While Vingegaard still sounded somewhat positive, Roglič was more down-hearted. “I’ve felt better,” Roglič said, stating the obvious. “I’ve done some damage to my body. I dislocated my shoulder. Luckily nothing is broken. It was very difficult to continue but you do everything you can and then, afterwards, we would see how to continue. If I lost the Tour today? I haven’t thought about that just yet. The most important thing now is to see how I can recover from this crash,” Roglič said.
Roglič lost more than two minutes on Pogačar on Wednesday but Van Aert is still in the yellow jersey and Vingegaard trails the Slovenian golden boy by only 21 seconds.

“We have two team leaders for the GC and on a stage like today that was difficult to manage. If only one of them ran into trouble then we could’ve used more men to help him out. Now we were forced to split forces and help them both,” Niermann said.

Losing two minutes is a lot but Jumbo-Visma isn’t making conclusions just yet and wants to wait and see how Roglič can continue the race. “It’s not the first time he’s dislocating his shoulder,” director sportif Maarten Wynants said. “He had to sit down on a chair to relax and put it back in. He tends not to have much pain afterwards. It’s too early to say something about the impact on our picking order. I haven’t heard Jonas just yet. The most important thing is to gain back the momentum. The nice thing about the Tour is that there’s new chances coming up. We’ll go for it again with Wout, although I have to wait and see how he feels and maybe has injuries. But he certainly seemed to be going well in the pursuit of the peloton.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.