Tour de France 2023
Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) won a tumultuous stage 5 of the Tour de France in Laruns to move into the yellow jersey, but Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) is now the clear favourite for overall victory after he dropped Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on the Col de Marie Blanque, gaining more than a minute on his rival in the process.
Vingegaard is now up to second overall, 47 seconds behind Hindley, and the Dane is already some 53 seconds ahead of Pogačar after an ominous show of force on the Tour’s entry into the Pyrenees. Paris is still two and a half weeks away, but the road to overall victory very clearly runs through Vingegaard.
The Basque Grand Départ meant the first high mountains of this Tour arrived much earlier than normal, but there was nothing cagey about the peloton’s approach to a day that produced spectacle from start to finish, with Hindley part of a dangerous split that went clear before the road had even started to climb.
Powered by strongmen that included Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), that sizeable group built up a maximum lead of four minutes over the top of the Col de Soudet and they still had 2:30 in hand at the base of the Col de Marie Blanque.
Four kilometres from the top of the Marie Blanque, Hindley tracked an acceleration from Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroën) and the 2021 Giro d’Italia winner then proceeded to drop the Swiss rider to crest the summit alone and drop to the finish in Laruns as the stage winner.
“I was sort of improvising out there and enjoying bike racing and I just managed to find myself in that group,” said Hindley, who is making his Tour debut. “I enjoyed it out there today. It’s really incredible. I have no words – I really have no words.”
Further down the mountain, Jumbo-Visma had taken over the pace-making in the yellow jersey group from UAE Team Emirates, and when Sepp Kuss went into overdrive on the upper slopes of the Marie Blanque, only Vingegaard and Pogačar could follow.
Vingegaard was clearly encouraged by what he saw. 1500m or so from the summit, he delivered a familiar acceleration that Pogačar simply could not match. While Pogačar battled to limit his losses, Vingegaard zoomed ahead into the mist, picking off the remnants of the break as he set about closing the gap to Hindley.
“We didn’t think this was the perfect stage for me, but, yeah, then when they started riding on the last climb, I had the feeling I had good legs,” Vingegaard said. “I said to Sepp that maybe he goes on the front. He did and I decided to attack as well.”
As simple and as complicated as that. The defending champion crested the summit 1:05 down on Hindley but 36 seconds clear of Pogačar, and he continued to improve his position on the 18.5km that remained to the finish in Laruns.
Vingegaard caught Gall, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek) in the closing kilometres, coming home fifth on the stage, 34 seconds behind the Australian.
Pogačar, meanwhile, waited for overnight leader and teammate Adam Yates on the descent off the Marie Blanque, but the damage was still considerable by the finish. In the Basque Country at the weekend, Pogačar picked off the bonus seconds, but the momentum of the race is suddenly all with Vingegaard, who confessed that he was surprised by his gains.
“Actually, yes,” Vingegaard said. “I wanted to test him a bit. And my legs were good and I’m super happy with where I am. I’m super happy with taking a minute, that’s a good time gain for me.”
The opening instalment of the Pyrenean doubleheader saw the race encounter its first hors categorie ascent, but in keeping with the anarchic, ‘new normal’ of the modern Tour, the first defining moment of the day came even before the climbing had even begun.
The flat terrain after the start Pau encouraged a rapid start, and the peloton split after 15km or so during which Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was always prominent towards the head of the bunch.
Once the dust settled, Van Aert was part of a 35-strong front group that also included Jumbo-Visma teammates Tiesj Benoot and Christophe Laporte, as well as GC dangerman Hindley, who had quality support in the form of German champion Emanuel Buchmann. The 37-strong group would proceed to amass a lead in excess of two minutes over the bunch before the Col de Soudet.
The UAE Team Emirates squad of Pogačar and yellow jersey Adam Yates took up the reins of pursuit, given that Vingegaard teammates up ahead, but their efforts failed to prevent the leaders from stretching their advantage to four minutes over the top of the mist-shrouded Soudet after Van Aert had briefly gone off the front with Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny) and Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek).
Gall attacked atop the climb to nab the mountains points, with Hindley looking very comfortable indeed, and the front group split up still further over the other side. Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech) would slip away, later joined by Van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) over the Col d’Ichère, but they were pinned back by the rest of the break at the base of the final climb, the Col de Marie Blanque.
At that point, the Hindley et al had 2:30 in hand over the UAE-led peloton, but the AG2R contingent were keen to press on the pace on behalf of Gall. When the Swiss rider attacked 4km from the summit, only Hindley could follow. After working together for a time, the Australian opted to proceed alone.
At that point, the question seemed to be whether UAE Team Emirates could make inroads into Hindley’s buffer or indeed whether Pogačar would take matters in hand himself. Instead, it was Jumbo-Visma who laid down a marker in the yellow jersey group once Van Aert had dropped back, and their forcing created a selection that saw Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Romain Bardet (Team dsm-firmenich) and Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) among those quickly distanced.
Adam Yates, Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) were the next to go, and once Sepp Kuss came to the front on the upper reaches of the climb, only Vingegaard and Pogačar were able to follow. It was a striking selection given that this was still only the fifth day of the Tour, and an even starker message arrived shortly afterwards when Vingegaard pressed clear of Pogačar to strike the first telling blow of their prize fight.
It is far too soon, of course, to couch this as a knock-out blow, but Vingegaard’s early advantage on the scorecard is a sizeable one all the same. Pogačar, meanwhile, found himself relying on help from the undercard to stay in the contest, reaching Laruns in a group that included the Yates brothers, Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos).
Others suffered even more sobering afternoons, including Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën), who lost 1:57, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), who conceded 2:55, and Egan Bernal (Ineos), who shipped 3:22.
The day and the jersey belonged to Hindley, who confirmed his credentials as a contender for the biggest prize, but Vingegaard already looms with intent. “We’ll just do our best,” the Dane said at the finish. “We’ll see what it ends with in Paris.”
At 144.9 kilometres, stage 6 of Le Tour travels from Tarbes to Le Cambasque above Cauterets. The finishing climb is 16 kilometres long and averaging 5.4%, while two giants – Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aspin – account for the lion’s share of the total elevation of almost 4,000 metres.
The riders clip into their pedals in Tarbes to enter the Pyrenees. Following an opening on the flat, a warm-up climb on the Côte de Capvern-les-Bains (5.6 kilometres at 4.8%), and another flat phase, the first big climb on the route is the Col d’Aspin (12 kilometres at 6.5%). The riders then descend into the valley of the Adour River, only to go up again on the most used climb on the Tour de France. The Col du Tourmalet adds up to 17.1 kilometres, while the average gradient sits at 7,3%. After descending to Luz-Saint-Sauveur the route follows the Gave de Gavarnie upstream to Pierrefitte-Nestales. That’s where the finish climb kicks in.
The first part is not very special, it all comes down to the last 4 kilometres. That’s were a section of 2.5 kilometres at double digit gradients kicks in. The climb then evens out for a bit before the final kilometre goes up at 6.6%. The entire climb is 16 kilometres long and averaging 5.4%.
Le Tour finished twice before in the mountains above Cauterets. In 1989 it was Miguel Indurain who triumphed at Le Cambasque, in 1995 Richard Virenque took the spoils on the nearby pass Les Crêtes du Lys.
Stage 5 result:
- Jai Hindley (AUS, Bora-Hansgrohe) 3hr 57’07”
- Giulio Ciccone (ITA, Lidl – Trek) +32″
- Felix Gall (AUT, AG2R Citroën Team) +32″
- Emanuel Buchmann (GER, BORA – hansgrohe) +32″
- Jonas Vingegaard (DEN, Jumbo-Visma) +34″
- Mattias Skjelmose (DEN, Lidl – Trek) +1:38″
- Daniel Felipe Martínez (COL, INEOS Grenadiers) +1:38″
- Tadej Pogacar (SLO, UAE Team Emirates) +1:38″
- David Gaudu (FRA, Groupama – FDJ) +1:38″
- Carlos Rodríguez (ESP, INEOS Grenadiers) +1:38″
- Jai Hindley (AUS, Bora-Hansgrohe) 22hr 15’12”
- Jonas Vingegaard (DEN, Jumbo-Visma) +47″
- Giulio Ciccone (ITA, Lidl – Trek) +1:03″
- Emanuel Buchmann (GER, BORA – hansgrohe) +1:11″
- Adam Yates (GBR, UAE Team Emirates) +1:34″
- Tadej Pogacar (SLO, UAE Team Emirates) +1:40″
- Simon Yates (Team Jayco AlUla) +1:40″
- Mattias Skjelmose (DEN, Lidl – Trek) +1:56″
- Carlos Rodriguez Cano (ESP, Ineos Grenadiers) +1:56″
- David Gaudu (Groupama – FDJ) +1:56″