Defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won his first stage in the 2021 Tour de France with a smashing individual time trial victory in Stage 5, and leap-frogged into second place in the overall GC standings behind Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

Tour de France Stage 5 Time Trial Tadej Pogacar
Tadej Pogacar from UAE Team Emirates surged to second place overall after an impressive time trial win in Stage 5 for the defending Tour de France champion. (Image: AP)

Van der Poel, who admitted was not at the top of his time trial game, posted a strong ride to finish fifth in Stage 5. He retained the overall lead by eight seconds and held on to the yellow jersey for at least one more day. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ), one of the co-favorites to win Stage 5, finished in second place during a day that saw a downpour of rain in the middle of the time trial.

2021 Tour de France – Stage 5 Results
  1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 0:32:00
  2. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) +00:19
  3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +00:27

The peloton finally departed Brittany after a controversial four stages that included numerous crashes due to poor road conditions and terrible course planning in Pontivy. The peloton protested at the commencement of Stage 4 and delayed the start until Tour officials agreed to listen to their gripes.

Stage 5 time trial: Change > Laval Espace Mayenne

A fresh start for everyone after four ugly days in Brittany. The first time trial of this year’s Le Tour featured a rider-friendly, smooth and steady course with a 27.2 km ride from Change to Laval Espace Mayenne. Laval has one of the oldest castles in France with Chateau de Laval. Their museum also hosts the most famous Rousseau painting from his collection.

Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) came into Stage 5 as the favorite to ship his first stage of this year’s Le Tour. However, he looked a tad off during the time trial. Van Aert finished in 32:30, but that was a half-minute behind Pogacar, and he settled on fourth place in Stage 5.

Pogacar had one of the later starts and missed the rain. He ran a near-perfect time trial to secure the victory.

“It was just a really good day today,” said Pogacar. “I didn’t do any mistakes. It was perfect weather for me but sadly some guys went out on wet roads. I had perfect conditions and perfect temperature.”

Jonas Vingegaard, van Wout’s teammate at Jumbo-Visma, finished third overall and just 27 seconds off the leader. King posted a 32:19 time trial, but Pogacar was still 19 seconds faster.

On deck, Stage 6: Tours > Chateauroux

Keep an eye out for Mark Cavendish at the end of Stage 6. He won a sprint finish at Chateauroux in the past, so he knows the road well. He’s fresh off an inspiring and heartwarming sprint victory in Stage 4, so he’s one of the favorites to take down the flat Stage 6, which is a 160 km ride from Tour to Chateauroux.

2021 Tour de France – Overall GC Standings
  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 16:51:41
  2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +00:08
  3. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +00:30
  4. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +00:48
  5. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) +01:21

Julian Alaphilippe struggled with a 12th-place finish in Stage 5. An ugly time trial meant he slipped to fourth overall in the GC and now trails van der Poel by 48 seconds, but Pogacar opened up a 40-second gap on him.

Pogacar rocketed into second overall, but most importantly, he gained time on the main GC contenders — Alaphilippe, Roglic, and Carapaz. He’s expected to overtake van der Poel as soon as the race reaches the first mountain stages this weekend in the Alps.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos) currently sits in ninth overall, but he’s 1:44 behind the leader and 1:36 behind Pogacar. The banged-up Primoz Roglic slipped to 10th overall and now has to make up 1:40 on Pogacar.

Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2021 Tour de France.