In what can only be considered a sleepy day in the Tour de France, Belgian standout Wout Van Aert dominated the sprint, while Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey after receiving a 20-second penalty for an illegal feed.
What, that is a sleepy stage you say? Well yes, for all intents and purposes, stage five from Gap to Privas, was one of the quietest days I have ever experienced on the Tour. And I can assure you that it was one of the most boring stages to photograph from a motorcycle. Nothing it seemed happened. There was no breakaway, and no team seemed inspired by the winds found in the final kilometers to attempt to attack and perhaps splinter the field into echelons.
Instead, everyone seemed perfectly happy to have an easy stage and give the sprinters their day, since they have so few opportunities in this year’s race. And that was just fine for Wout van Aert. The Dutchman, who won both Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo in August, is clearly here to work for his team leaders. But on a relaxed stage like today, he was freed by his Jumbo-Visma team to try his hand in the sprint, and he simply screamed across the line.
But that was only the beginning the and eventful finish, as it was announced only moments before Julian Alaphilippe stepped up on the podium to receive his yellow jersey, that he had been penalized 20 seconds for an illegal feed, hence losing his yellow tunic to British rider Adam Yates.
But Alaphilippe seemed unphased. “Hey James,” he said left the podium and rolled towards his team bus. “Désolé mec,” (sorry dude,) I said quickly. And then he responded, “Ah c’est pas grave,” (it’s not serious). If you know Julian, you know such a response is simply classic Alaphilippe. No one loves racing his bike more than this 28-year old. But he never forgets it is just sport.