For many GC riders the fifth stage of the 109th Tour de France will be one they would rather forget – or wish never happened. Ben O’Connor lost time, Jack Haig crashed out, Primoz Roglic dislocated a shoulder, Wout van Aert got confused… but still excelled, and an Australian won in a photo finish after a long breakaway.

Here is part 5 of the #ZacWilliamsGalleries from Le Tour of 2022.


– Tour de France Gallery, by Zac Williams: stage 5, Lille Métropole to Arenberg, Porte du Hainaut (157.0km)


The day the breakaway won… Simon Clarke leads Magnus Cort, Alexis Gougeard, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Taco van der Horn and Nelson Powless. (Photos: Zac Williams)

In the end, Simon Clarke got his solo stage win…! (Photos: Zac Williams)

There was a series of races all taking place within the one stage. Up ahead a quintet of escapees worked on building their advantage after breaking free early and using the tailwind to good advantage. Simon Clarke and his troupe of opportunists gained considerable time on the bunch and it would ultimately prove to be enough to contest the victory in stage five.

Behind, however, there was all sorts of chaos created by the cobblestones. Untimely mechanicals and crashes contributed to the drama and there were a host of victims from what became a rapid and dramatic stage.

Ben O’Connor (below) did what he could to rescue his bid for another good GC performance but his puncture on the second section of pavé put him on the back foot for much of the stage. He had team support and more riders from his AG2R Citroën Team would drop back to try and wrestle some time back but by the end of the stage, last year’s fourth place finisher had dropped well down the rankings.

O’Connor started the stage 1:26 behind Wout van Aert in the general classification and ended it with a deficit of 4:34. It is one of many hard luck stories from a stage that has all but wiped out the prospect of an Australian podium challenge in the 2022 TDF.

Jack Haig, a victim of a crash in stage three of last year’s Tour, suffered misfortune again in the opening week.

The official report from Haig’s Bahrain Victorious team explains the circumstances behind the first abandon of the 2022 race:

“Jack Haig abandons the Tour de France on stage 5 after sustaining injuries from a crash with 30 kilometres to go. A loose barrier was hit into the road, causing the crash, with several other riders hitting the deck.

“Haig was taken to hospital following the crash. Jack had multiple abrasions and bruises over the body and required stitches for a cut above the elbow. CT scans also revealed multiple non-displaced wrist fractures. Fortunately, Jack had no concussion or head injury and will travel home tomorrow.”

It is a desperate shame for Haig. He hasn’t crashed much during his impressive career; a collarbone fracture in last year’s Tour was his first major injury from a life of cycling. And now, after stage five, he will again watch the race from afar while he recovers from a crash that robbed him of a chance to climb with the world’s best later in the Tour.

Jumbo-Visma have enjoyed plenty of success in the opening week but it was struck with a hoodoo in stage five with mechanicals and crashes proving most taxing.

Neilson Powless started stage five ranked 25th on GC, 1:13 behind Wout van Aert. For a while it seemed like the American would inherit the yellow jersey… but he fell just shy of that coup and he starts stage six in second place just 13 second behind WvA.

Tadej Pogacar was one GC rider who relished the rough conditions. He dropped from 3rd overall to 4th but proved that he is on course for a third successive Tour title.

Jasper Stuyven leads Pogacar in their pursuit of the breakaway riders. With around 25km to go, this pair looked like they might challenge for the stage win but they would eventually finish 51 seconds behind Clarke and his cohort.

Jonas Vingegaard and Geraint Thomas (above) were two GC riders who also suffered setbacks in stage five. A mechanical problem forced the Dane to temporarily borrow the bike of Nathan van Hooydonck. This was only the start of the real troubles for Jumbo-Visma; thanks to Wout van Aert, the team still leads the Tour but the two GC specialists – Vingegaard and Roglic – have lost time to some of their key rivals.

Magnus Cort cannot resist the temptation to attack. He was in the break again in stage five.

Durbridge and O’Connor… two West Australian riders doing what they can to limit the damage caused by the cobbles.


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LeTour 2022:

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