• BMC's Richie Porte was among the protagonists on Stage 5. (Getty)Source: Getty
Chris Froome took the yellow jersey on the fifth stage of the Tour de France but his BMC Racing rivals were smiling past the finish line in what was the first proper hit-out for title contenders.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
6 Jul 2017 - 5:04 AM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2017 - 5:06 AM

BMC controlled the bunch virtually from the start of the race to the decisive, six-kilometre summit finish at La Planches des Belles Filles despite Sky having the then maillot jaune Geraint Thomas.

Richie Porte jumped from 20th to fifth overall but his teammates during the 160.5km run were perceived to be expending energy unnecessarily when the onus was on Sky to control.

Road captain Nicolas Roche acknowledged his squad didn’t have to ride all day but noted it was to effect.

Aru the best in first mountain-top finish, Froome in yellow
Fabio Aru (Astana) claimed first blood in the battle of the climbers, bursting clear of the pack in the final kilometres of Stage 5 to La Planche des Belles Filles to take the stage win and move himself up in the battle for the maillot jaune. Chris Froome (Team Sky) did enough on the stage to ensure that the yellow jersey would remain within his squad, inheriting it from teammate Geraint Thomas.

“It wasn’t the plan initially this morning but the beauty of a bike race is so much is actually decided outside the team bus,” Roche said.

“The boys did an amazing job; Stefan [Kung] and Micky [Michael Schar] maintaining that gap [to the break] to two-and-half to three minutes all day long and obviously, coming into the finish, where you need to go really deep, we had the rest of the lads. I think everybody contributed as much as they could and I think Richie gave it all in the last two kilometres.

“Obviously in the finish it would have been great to have me with Richie a little bit more, I cracked just under the two-kilometre barrier. I would have liked to try and ride to keep that gap but anyway, that’s today, there is a lot more to come.

“The team today showed that as a team we’re in it.”

Froome clearly had the most support at his disposal on the final climb, which he placed third behind stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana) and Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors). Thomas held on long enough to limit his own personal losses and now sits second overall – 12 seconds in arrears of his team leader.

But BMC here today appeared happy just to take a bit of time and morale from a confident display, with more toil and harder mountains on the horizon.

“…You don’t want to be over confident, that would be a big, big, big mistake at the Tour. A slight bit of over confidence can put you in the ground, or completely destroy you,” Roche said.

Porte, fourth on the stage, was assertive speaking to reporters at the finish. The Tasmanian had firstly an answer for questions pertaining to Aru.

“In the Dauphiné, he was there but hardly figured, now he is going well. We saw last year, he took it up and then exploded on one of the last stages. I tip my hat to him for today, it was a good ride, but it’s going to put more pressure on him,” he said.

And then to Froome and the rest of his former Sky teammates.

“When he [Froome] did his usual squeeze there he dropped quite a few guys. He’s obviously going better than he was the last race we saw him, but I think Team Sky were not quite what they were probably last year,” Porte said.

“They’ve got plenty of work coming up. In the big mountains, Froomey has got the jersey now and they’re going to have the pressure.

“They’ve had to have the jersey since the start of the race and that’s going to take its toll – I hope.”

In recent years, La Planches des Belles Filles has proved an accurate indication of the winner announced in Paris. However, just 40 seconds currently separate the top five of the race.

“I think we learned it’s a very level playing field in this Tour de France,” Martin said.

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