Lars Boom has taken the win in stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour, and with it the overall lead of the race from Stefan Kung.  The Dutchman won the stage for LottoNL-Jumbo ahead of Peter Sagan of Bora-Hasgrohe and Greg van Avermaet.

The 164.9km that comprised stage 5 of the race would be rough to say the least.  Starting and finishing in Sittard-Geleen, the race took in around a dozen climbs en route to the finish including the climbs of the Cauberg and Kruisberg, two of the Amstel Gold Race’s iconic obstacles.  The race was illuminated by a breakaway of seven riders, with Huub Duijn of Verandas Willems-Crelan, Jesper Asselman of Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij, Jos Van Emden of LottoNL-Jumbo, Mathias Brandle of Trek-Segafredo, Jon Ander Insausti of Bahrain-Merida, Michael Hepburn of Orica-SCOTT and Mads Wurtz Schmidt of Katusha-Alpecin making the move.

 

Sunweb put the hurt on peloton

 

With Bora-Hansgrohe and Cannondale-Drapac on the front along with Team Sunweb the gap to the leaders was allowed to sit at around 3 minutes with 60km of racing to come, but that was all to change in the final 50km of racing.  The race’s narrow roads claimed a few crash victims over the course of the day, with a number of riders hitting the deck.  Safety was not helped by the pretty relentless pace that teams like Sunweb exerted almost immediately in a bid to rattle the field.  At one point they’d managed to cause a split with just a handful of riders in the front, themselves, Greg van Avermaet of BMC Racing, Sep Vanmarcke of Cannondale-Drapac and a teammate, and Tim Wellens of Lotto Soudal in the front split.  But Peter Sagan led the chase to regain contact with Andre Greipel putting in another strong and proactive ride.

Dion Smith in action during stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour, photo Sirotti

All this mean that the breakaway’s advantage had almost halved in the space of 3km.  The peloton, or what was left of it, were well and truly strung out all over the road, with splits developing in places.  Team Sunweb looked full of intent, but they were unable to shake some of the key names who would challenge later on in the day.

 

Kung hits troubles break reeled in

 

Before the commencement of the final lap disaster struck for race leader Stefan Kung as he suffered a mechanical issue at a crucial moment.  Only Greg van Avermaet was up ahead, and he wasn’t going to play domestique to the Swiss rider, with a stage win up for grabs.  Eventually, after a few kilometres of frantic chasing he dropped back to the second peloton on the road, and hoped that maybe the Roompot-led second peloton might be able to catch up with Team Sunweb and Lotto Soul who were continuing to drive matters up ahead.  The chances were slimming though.  At 35km to go the gap between the first peloton and the second was sitting at just over 30 seconds and Kung was beginning to see his hopes of retaining the race lead fall away.

Shortly before 20km to go Team Sunweb led the way to the tail end of the breakaway, picking up some of the stragglers.  But as the breakaway began to be swept up, amazingly the Kung group caught back up with the peloton, but how much had the chase taken out of them?  Counter attacks began very quickly as contact was made between the two large groups, with one or two of the original move still up ahead.  Petr Vakoc of Quick-Step Floors leapt out of the peloton and joined lone leader Michael Hepburn at the front of the race, with the Australian the last man standing.

 

Dynamic race as leaders continue attacks

 

With 19km to go their advantage stood at 25 seconds as Cannondale-Drapac took over the pace setting duties.  More attacks were inevitable though with the difficult course, and sure enough eventually with 13km to go Vakoc and Hepburn were joined by Tim Wellens of Lotto Soudal, Michael Valgren of Astana and Alexis Gougeard of AG2R La Mondiale.  The group was a strong one, and this was clearly just the kind of terrain that suited Tim Wellens down to the ground; and the peloton behind them knew it.

Despite Wellens’ pace though another nine riders were able to come across and join the front, with riders from the peloton getting closer all the time.  The leading group now contained  Tom Dumoulin, Sep Vanmarcke, Peter Sagan, Lars Boom and more.  The group clearly had the pedigree to go all the way to the line, but shortly after joining the head of the race, Peter Sagan opted to stretch his legs and push the tempo a little.

Peter Sagan found himself up against the repetitive problem of having little support in chasing moves, photo Sirotti
Who will help Sagan?

 

At 9km to go the lead group appeared to relax a little in terms of pace, due largely to the fact that there was not complete cooperation within the leading group.  AG2R La Mondiale led the way, but it was clear that some were not prepared to work, to the annoyance of riders like Peter Sagan.  Next to try a little flurry was Jasha Sutterlin of Movistar who was countered by Tim Wellens and Sep Vanmarcke, but for now no quarter was to be given.

The last climb of the day came with 6km to go.  Tom Dumoulin led the way but Peter Sagan was waiting in the wings to attack.  It was a fierce move, but came with too much attention from the other riders.  Despite driving the pace, Tim Wellens and Lars Boom led the chase to catch him.  Next another move went clear with Jasper Stuyven of Trek-Segafredo and Jan Bakelants of AG2R La Mondiale.  This time the duo looked like they might have timed their move just right.

Peter Sagan was visibly irritated at the fact that he was being leant on a lot; a typical scenario for the world champion.  Eventually Tim Wellens came through to take over the pace setting and lead the group towards the leaders along with the Slovakian.  With 2.3km to go the race at the front was back together, and a bit of uncertainty set in as riders awaited the next move; with Sagan still on the front.  Next to go was Sep Vanmarcke with 1.9km remaining.  

 

Lars Boom times attack perfectly

 

Vanmarcke’s attack didn’t last but then Lars Boom made his move with 1.6km remaining.  This time the road seemed to open behind him as finally riders came through to support Sagan at the front.  The Dutchman, however, had timed his move brilliantly; and despite Tim Wellens chasing it looked like Boom had done enough.

Dylan Groenewegen leads the chase peloton across the line, Dion Smith is to the left, photo Sirotti

Boom time trialled onwards and continued to grow his lead, finally sitting up and able to savour a sweet victory in front of a home crowd.  Peter Sagan led the sprint behind him for second place out of a group that contained Philippe Gilbert, Wellens, Dumoulin, Greipel, Bakelants and co.  In the next group of the road came Dion Smith in the company of Elia Viviani, Dylan Groenewegen, Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra et al.  Groenewegen led the group across the line while Dion Smith took 22nd on the stage.

Sam Bewley crossed the line in a group that contained Alex Dowsett, Tom Jelte-Slagter and Dayer Quintana.

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