• Richie Porte (middle) and Greg van Avermaet (left) both enjoy protected status within the BMC squad at the 2018 Tour de France. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
BMC's tactics of protecting the Yellow Jersey of Greg van Avermaet came under some fire yesterday as they tired out riders that may be useful to the ambitions of Richie Porte later in the Tour.
Cycling Central

12 Jul 2018 - 9:07 AM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2018 - 11:33 AM

It was a long toil for the peloton on the lumpy 204.5km stage from Lorient to Quimper, but it was hardest for BMC, who took it upon themselves to defend the Yellow Jersey of Greg van Avermaet and drive the pace for most of the day. 

The Belgian star pulled on the maillot jaune after BMC won the team time trial on Stage 3.

The efforts paid off, a strong breakaway was brought back and van Avermaet was even able to extend his lead slightly by picking up two bonus seconds at the bonus sprint point.

The Belgian star may have paid slightly for that effort, as he was out-gunned by stage-winner Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) in the finale and ended up finishing seventh after leading out the final sprint.

Van Avermaet explained how the split focus was working within the team dynamic on Stage 6.

"I was trying to win the stage that's for sure but it was pretty complicated," said van Avermaet. "Phil [Gilbert] went early and he is up there on the GC so I couldn't let him go and I had to ride by myself.

"Then, I think I went a bit too early on the sprint. I thought the corner was closer to the finish and that's the thing that went wrong I think. However, we gave it a try and we also didn't lose any time with Richie. The team did a perfect job to put us into position in the final."

Sagan a green monster on Tour fifth stage
Stage 5 of the Tour de France was tailor-made for a rider like Peter Sagan and the BORA-hansgrohe superstar did not disappoint his fans with a grinding victory to extend his green jersey lead.

A number of BMC riders were spent early in the chase, with Stefan Kung, Paddy Bevin, Michal Schar and Simon Gerrans all dropped well before riders of their ability would normally fall off the pace.

"It was a really demanding day for a lot of guys and I think the team did a great job all day,' said van Avermaet. "We spent a lot of energy but I think on these kind of days you can lose more time than on a mountain stage so it's better to do that. I think we did great today so we will see how it goes tomorrow.

"Having the yellow jersey gives us a little more space in the peloton and Richie is the kind of rider who likes to be in a good position up at the front all day. We are still focusing on the podium in Paris but will continue to take it day by day and try to make the best results possible as we go along."

Team sports director Fabio Baldato was a happy man after the stage finish.

"The guys did a great job keeping Richie in front," said Baldato, "and then Greg was able to be up there to try to go for the stage and was able to keep the jersey and even take some bonus seconds.

"The priority was to keep Richie safe in front and we did that well. Keeping yellow for another day is a bonus."

"Tomorrow could be more about GC riders so it will be important to try and keep Richie up there with the other contenders again but we know Greg can also try to fight to stay there."

Porte spoke to Cycling Central after the stage and was positive about the influence of van Avermaet wearing yellow. 

"Such a hard day," said Porte. "It was a blessing that Greg had the jersey because it gave us the right to stay up there. It was one of those stages that could have potentially ripped the race apart."