Van Aert bounces back to victory in a thriller
June 9 th 2022 - 16:49
"I love to win", Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) claimed on Wednesday, and so he did on Thursday, in Chaintré, after a thrilling finale to cap off stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, covered at blazing speeds.
The Belgian star, narrowly beaten on the past three days, outsprinted Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) with a minimal margin after the attackers were caught inside the last 100 metres! Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) rounded out the podium.
The 10 bonus seconds see Van Aert increase his lead in the overall standings ahead of the final three stages.
The start from Thizy-les-Bourgs sees 148 riders set off towards Chaintré, with 162.5 rolling kilometres on the menu. Attackers are inspired and the battle for the breakaway is a very intense one, with 46.2km covered in the first hour!
3+2=5 riders at the front
After many attempts, the first ascent of the day, Col des Escorbans (cat.3, summit at km 27.9), serves as a springboard for three riders to launch themselves at the front of the race: Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies), followed by Jan Bakelants (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis).
Two more attackers set off in pursuit, the polka-dot jersey Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) and Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis). They bridge the gap to the leaders at the bottom of the 2nd ascent of the day, Côte de Dun (cat.2, km 52.3). Jumbo-Visma control the gap under 3 minutes.
Full-on battle between the bunch and the break
Rolland takes the 5 KOM points at the summit and then drops back to the peloton while Dylan Groenewegen’s BikeExchange-Jayco start pulling behind the four attackers remaining at the front. They bring the gap down to 1’15’’ with 70km to go.
The attackers accelerate cover 47.1km in the third hour and their lead is back up to 2 minute with 30km to go. Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) sets the pace in the bunch as they face the penultimate climb of the day, Col du Bois Clair (cat.4). The Italian star cuts the gap down to 1’25’’ at the summit (km 138.2).
A thrilling finale
Ineos Grenadiers maintain a hard pace on the final ascent, Côte de Vergisson (cat.4, km 149.6). Groenewegen is dropped in the last km of ascent. At the summit, the peloton trail by 35’’. And the Dutch sprinter is 35’’ further behind.
Thomas, Doubey, Bakelants and Schönberger are still 10’’ ahead as they enter the last kilometre. Even Primoz Roglic has to take a turn at the front of the bunch. The attackers are eventually caught inside the last 100 metres, when Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) powers to victory just ahead of Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Van Aert: "If even GC guys with 60kg pull..."
"Until the last kilometre, I was focused on catching the break and then I quickly shifted to trying to do a good sprint. Luckily Christophe [Laporte] did a master pull in the end and before I asked the boys to do everything they could. If even GC guys with 60kg pull in the front, you know you have to finish it off. It’s huge to win again on the Dauphiné. Today it was really hard again to catch the break. I needed all my teammates to bridge the gap and it worked out in the end. I’m really proud of my teammates."