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Tour de France

Tour de France: Wout van Aert vows Jumbo-Visma will keep fighting after difficult pavé day

The Belgian retained his yellow jersey by a slim margin after a rollercoaster day for the Dutch squad.

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ARENBERG, France (VN) — Wout van Aert has vowed that Jumbo-Visma will continue to fight for the Tour de France GC despite suffering a difficult day on stage 5.

Van Aert narrowly retained his yellow jersey on what was a chaotic day for the Dutch squad after dropping back to help pace Jonas Vingegaard following a botched bike change after a mechanical issue.

Vingegaard only lost 13 seconds to defending champion Tadej Pogačar, thanks to a big effort from Van Aert. However, Roglič gave away 2:08 to the UAE Team Emirates rider after he crashed hard on the exit of a roundabout with 30 kilometers to go.

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“At one point when there’s no cars, no motos, nothing in front of you, you have the feeling you’re really far back but we always had good information on the radio, we just had to keep fighting to the line,” Van Aert said in his yellow jersey press conference.

“At this point in the race, a minute feels like a lot but when you hit the mountains it can change again. The first thing we should find out is if Primož is ok after his crash. We still have two of the strongest riders in this race and, luckily, Jonas has not lost too much time. We keep fighting like we did today.”

Roglič suffered a dislocated shoulder as a result of the crash, which appeared to happen after a race motorbike clipped a haybale on the side of the road, forcing it into the path of the group he was in. Roglič is currently set to continue the race, but it remains to be seen how he recovers in the coming days.

At the time that Roglič crashed, Van Aert had already been pulled in to help pace back Vingegaard to the group. The Slovenian had not remounted his bike when they passed through the spot where he crashed, but none of the Jumbo-Visma riders could see Roglič on the side of the road.

It was only later that Van Aert and company heard that Roglič had fallen. It capped off a difficult day for the team that had been marked by incidents and confusion.

“We had big plans today and this was not what we came for,” Van Aert said. “We had to fight in the chase and not put pressure on others, so that’s a shame. For my own performance, I am disappointed to not do more than the chase at the end.

“It’s just a shit day. Jonas had a mechanical, we had some struggles with the communication for the bike change. We passed the roundabout with the crash of Primož but we didn’t see Primož so it was also strange for us that Primož was down somewhere there. It was difficult to keep the overview.”

Van Aert also had his own issues during the stage after he collided with his teammate Steven Kruijswijk shortly before the opening cobbles sector. The pair came down and had to chase back onto the peloton before it reached the pavé.

As the pair was making its way back through the convoy, Van Aert had to make a quick avoiding maneuver after he spotted very late that a team car in front of him had applied the brakes. His speedy reactions prevented a much worse accident for the Belgian.

“They hit the brakes really hard in front of me and I couldn’t avoid riding into the bike of my teammate. That was a shame. I was a bit overwhelmed with what happened, I was talking with Stevie about what to do to move up and the guy in the car was braking and it was quite scary, I have to say. I was only centimeters away from some big damage,” Van Aert said.

Van Aert was not severely injured in the crash, but the mental toll of coming down in the bunch made him much more cautious when he did make it back to the peloton.

“I think I am feeling ok physically. Mentally after my crash it was difficult to fight for my position again and throw myself into the mix to fight for the position. I think that was more of the struggle. In the end, when we got even more bad luck with the team and we had to chase hard, I felt some good legs again. I’m hoping that I will not feel too bad,” he said.