5th stage of the Tour de France – The peloton shudders in front of the cobblestones – David Gaudu: “We are afraid but we want to go”

Here we are. On the morning of the 5th stage of the Tour de France, the one that arouses so much fear among many runners, so much curiosity among the followers. The so-called “cobblestone” stage, as the Tour reserves for us sparingly. We’ve been waiting for it for four years… and Tadej Pogacar is rather impatient: “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun… but those who will be on their couch even more.”

It’s a day that scares everyoneconsiders David Gaudu in a different tone. It will take good legs and a bit of success“The leader of Groupama-FDJ will not, however, come forward for signing backwards.”We are scared but we want to go”he sums up about the feeling of excitement that reigns in the peloton and among the viewers, as “Pogi” mischievously suggested.

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The profile of the 5th stage: The day of the cobblestones and all the dangers

“I hope there will be no fall at home”

But Pogacar does not only think about the show. In a more polite speech, he predicts “a difficult step“: “I’m expecting a big day and I hope there won’t be any crashes with us. ” Before the start of the event, the 4th of the last Tour of Flanders – stunning for his discovery of the event – had refused to talk about the opportunity for him to make a difference. He had also brushed aside the idea of any fear, in a well-crafted communication.

We’ll have to run ahead, no worries, no stress“, had thus listed the outgoing double winner, about this stage which connects Lille to Arenberg. On the program of the day: 157 kilometers, including 19.4 of cobblestones, divided into eleven sectors. Not enough to raise eyebrows the duo Wout van Aert – Christophe Laporte, but perhaps enough to give some cold sweats to the leaders of Jumbo-Visma: Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard.

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The close guard of Roglic and Vingegaard

The stage doesn’t scare me, but for leaders it can be tenseadmits Laporte. Anything can happen: crashes, punctures or other incidents that can cause you to lose the race” Van Aert wants to be a little more optimistic, crowned with the yellow jersey and strong from a resounding success this Tuesday in Calais: “There will be a lot of nervousness, but we approach this day with confidence.”

Half of the team is made up of classic riders, who are used to the cobblestones”, continues “WVA”, in reference to his presence and that of Laporte, but also to Tiesj Benoot and Nathan Van Hooydonck. He assures him, Jumbo-Visma will not run on the defensive: “For us, the question will not be to finish without problem, or not. We have a real chance to do something.”

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The 2014 construction site

During the Grand Prix de Denain, last March, Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard worked on their pedal stroke on the cobblestones. In the wake of his brilliant Round, Tadej Pogacar had meanwhile posted a photo suggesting that he could line up with Paris-Roubaix. He was actually on reconnaissance. For several months, candidates for the coronation on the Champs have had Wednesday in the back of their minds.

In 2014, Vincenzo Nibali took advantage of the cobblestones, and a disputed stage in dantesque conditions, to hit hard, in his quest for consecration on the Grande Boucle. The Messina Shark was so dominating in the mountains that year that it would be going too far to say that it forged its triumph on the road to Arenberg. But his final victory is partly associated with this image of him braving the mud.

2014, the Hell of the North on the Tour

Cobblestones are part of the game

Tadej Pogacar was phenomenal in the Tour of Flanders, Geraint Thomas has already finished in the Top 10 in Paris-Roubaix“, recalls Bradley Wiggins, for Eurosport. In the eyes of the winner of the Tour de France 2012, knowing how to go beyond the paved paths is integrated into the baggage of the contenders: “I think most know that this is now an integral part of preparing for the Tour.”

Even if his team’s two best cards for the coronation are not “Flandriens”, Van Aert is delighted with the course offered on Wednesday: “I love having a stage like this in the Tour.” He does not say it innocently, since he could also glean a prestigious bouquet there.

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A challenge, too, for stage hunters

For some, the Tour is partly played there, with the objective of raising your arms. The French champion Florian Sénéchal, in particular, or his compatriot Adrien Petit, must have itchy calves. Lars Boom, in 2014, achieved an unmissable performance in his road career.

Consultant for Eurosport, Robbie McEwen believes that there is, for every rider “one of the biggest wins ever, because it’s going to be epic” The emotion of a reborn John Degenkolb, during his success four years ago, does not say the opposite. However, the German has two Monuments to his name. His stage of 2018 does not compete. But it is tinged with a particular cachet. We are there, at the threshold of the cobblestones.

The joy of John Degenkolb, winner of a stage of the Tour de France 2018, in Roubaix

Credit: Getty Images

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