France’s TDF 2020 Queen, 18th July 2020 – stage 5 was the queen stage of the Virtual Tour de France and she did not disappoint. The 22.9km stage that took to the virtual slopes of Mont Ventoux shredded both pelotons with 1,205m of elevation to climb to reach the finish line at Chalet Reynard. Both GC leading teams went in guns blazing letting everyone know they were serious about staying in yellow going into the final stage on the Champs-Élysées tomorrow.
Up first was the women’s race that saw some strong attacks early on from Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope) to take the first QOM mid-way through the race and some aggressive racing from Danielle Christmas (Lotto-Soudal Ladies). Even as the peloton was whittled down on the infamous mountain slopes, losing the likes of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) early on, Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank made sure their riders remained at the front of the race to maximise GC points. Although in the final few kilometers Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) was too strong for yellow jersey wearer Sarah Gigante (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) to hold on, the Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank team placed their riders 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th securing the yellow jersey classification ahead of tomorrow’s final stage. Gigante and Moolman-Pasio battled it out between them until Moolman-Pasio’s accelerations became too much with her passing the 1km banner with a 19 second lead over Gigante. With today’s placings Drops Cycling have lost their lead in the polkadot jersey rankings to Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank who will take the race classification due to no QOM points on tomorrow’s stage. Whilst Canyon//SRAM Racing still hold the green and now also the white jersey classifications.
The men’s race played out in similar vein to the women’s losing some big names early on such as Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Rohan Dennis (Team Ineos) and Warren Barguil (Team Arkea - Samsic). Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin - Fenix) took the mid-way KOM but it was NTT Pro Cycling Team that showed they were serious about staying in yellow. With Mike Woods (EF Pro Cycling) pushing the pace at the front of the race a small group of 5 riders was soon whittled down to three, Woods, Louis Meintjes (NTT Pro Cycling Team) and his teammate Domenico Pozzovivo. Around 4km to go Pozzovivo attacked, leaving Woods having to chase to get back on, which he did. The acceleration, too much for Meintjes, left him gapped with 3.9km to go as Woods and Pozzovivo battled against each other. At 3.5km to go Pozzovivo started to lose Woods’ wheel and by the 1km banner Woods had 15 seconds on his chaser, going on to take the win. Like Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, NTT Pro Cycling Team took an impressive number of points on the line placing 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th meaning they will take the GC classification of the race. They now also hold the polkadot, green and white jerseys going into the final stage.
The most combative riders of the day were Danielle Christmas (Lotto Soudal Ladies) and Mike Woods (EF Pro Cycling).
For race images click here.
“It was a great win today for my CCC-Liv team, luckily no technical problems today like last week which was a bit disappointing, where I had a drop out on my internet, so it was good that it went right today and I was able to take the win. There is no doubt that she’s [Sarah Gigante] a great talent of course, it was a great ride from her, but I did feel confident about the win, I was keeping it smooth.
“I have a lot of appreciation for Zwift and their push to give women’s cycling a platform and do everything they can to make it equal, equal racing, equal exposure, it’s really great to have brands like Zwift, really forward thinking brands that are really pushing women’s cycling forward, because when we’re given the platform there’s no doubt that there’s an appetite to watch our racing, so hats off to all involved and thanks for this great opportunity.”
“It was certainly very important to get the victory, this is a big event for us, Zwift is a great platform and we’re happy we finally got one. Both Pozzovivo and Meintjes are super strong riders and normally in a race you can look them in the eye and see how they’re doing and get an idea of how they’re feeling, but instead you can just see the watts per kilo on the side [of the screen] and just kept on going trying to see when they would crack. I was hoping that they would crack a lot earlier than what they did but fortunately I managed to keep going and hang on.
“Zwift racing is a lot more of a sustained effort, I think that’s one of the reasons why I have success at it because it is quite similar to running, I know Freddy Ovett mentioned this a few days ago and had a bit of a tiff with JV, my team boss, but I actually agree with my team boss that it is a lot more similar to running and just a harder, higher sustained effort for a longer period of time, and I could stand basically the entire time on the trainer because you don’t have to worry about the aerodynamics, if you saw me on the video I was standing the entire time and was just able to basically run my way on the bike.”
Full Women's Overall Standings can be found here
Full Men's Overall Standings can be found here