Thursday 7 Jul 2016

"I was comfortable. Tejay and I have shown that we can work together and Damiano Caruso worked well and put us in a really good position. I knew that those descents were going to be crucial. At the end of the day, it's a great day for the team. It's not nice to have lost time like that [flat tyre on stage 2] but you know, you just keep fighting each day I suppose. The signs are good, I had good legs and it's quite exciting."

Stage 5 report
Greg Van Avermaet solos to stage win and into yellow
Belgian Greg Van Avermaet traversed the final two category climbs alone to take line honours and the yellow jersey in Le Lioran on Stage 5 of the Tour de France.

"Greg certainly looked like he had good form today. It was a super impressive ride and great for the team, and great for Greg as well with the season he's had, so he really deserves it. Tomorrow I'm sure we'll help to control the breakaway but I don't even expect us to have to do much work to bring them in because the sprinters' teams will probably want to pull back the breakaway. I think we'll just enjoy the day in yellow, stay relaxed and get ready for the Pyrenees."

 

“It wasn’t clear yet whether I would join the break this morning because I thought it might be wiser to save some strength for the final week. But it was obvious from the beginning that a few strong riders were willing to be part of the break so I decided to join them. We got a lot of advantage from the peloton because no one was a threat to the GC riders. Van Avermaet was the best placed rider at twenty seconds but the GC riders don’t expect that he will play a role in the mountain stages.

“The cooperation in the front group was gone after a while so we decided to continue the break with three riders. We weren’t sure whether Grivko would be good or not. Greg and I decided that he mustn’t win today’s stage because he didn’t do his part of the job. Eventually he was dropped on the fourth climb of the day. Van Avermaet accelerated on the penultimate climb and it was clear that he was stronger than me. I’m a bit disappointed of course but I realise that Greg was simply the best today. He really deserved this victory.

“It was clear that the KOM sprints would be today's goal from the moment that I was part of the break. I was able to win three sprints and I will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Wearing that jersey is a big dream. I was never able to wear a jersey in a Grand Tour so I’m really happy. Obtaining the prize of the most combative rider and the polka dot jersey is a nice consolation prize. I’ll try to defend that jersey for at least one day, after that it will depend on how the Tour will evolve.”

“I actually tried to go in the break early today but the group didn’t let me go. I think they were scared of me but it's impossible to do everything. The climbs didn’t matter for me as the break was a long way ahead at the front. I thought it was better to take it easy. The Tour de France is still very long. We will see day by day, now I’ve got the green jersey I’ll keep trying for it.”

“In the last part of the race the pace was so high we barely had a second to take a breath. We lost time and we have to take the race day by day and try to recover before the Pyrenees and the harder stages. I will give my best in the Alps and try to see what result we can achieve.

“The morale is good. I have been through tough situations many times in my life and one has to be strong. It's true that it's difficult when you have been preparing for so long, taking care of the smallest detail to be in the best form possible and then have two crashes in a row. If this stage had taken place five days from now it would have been different. However the race is what it is and we lost time.”

"The first mountain stage is a little bit of a shock to everybody and today it was even more difficult because of the scorching heat, which made the road melt in some places. To be sincere, it felt like you were riding through glue all day long. It was a difficult start to the Tour de France and nobody had the legs to attack on Wednesday, because people are already tired after just a couple of days and 18 hours in the saddle. The team rode well together and I am confident for the mountain stages which will come later in the week."

"For us it was about staying up front and not losing any time on those GC guys. Those descents were pretty tricky and dangerous. Obviously we knew the breakaway was going to stay away today and the jersey's gone to Van Avermaet, he did a pretty impressive ride there!

"From our side we're happy with that. We're happy to stay out of trouble and it's one more day down. It wasn't really in our interest today [to send guys down the road]. We wanted to stay out of trouble. The big GC days are still to come. Today was one of those days where, yes it was selective, but it wasn't necessarily going to be a big showdown between the contenders themselves."

"The public gave me a thrill, I have felt really supported today.

“When we were between le Pas de Peyrol and le Perthus col it was just like a dream. However, I tried not to be carried away by emotions. Therefore, I wisely stayed in the peloton in order to be attentive to different attackers. We climbed the Pas de Peyrol really fast and many riders could not follow the rhythm. Then there were only about twenty riders remaining in the peloton.

“Honestly, I thought it was possible for me to win but the three-man breakaway did an impressive race today. Fortunately, we are only at the beginning of the Tour."