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Van Aert and the Jumbo-Visma team lit up the race on the final cat 4. climb of the Côte du Cap Blanc-Ne, dropping all of their rivals in the process.
In scenes reminiscent of Paris-Nice, when Jumbo-Visma split the race and went 1,2,3 at the finish, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Tiesj Benoot put in the grunt work and narrowed down the front of the race to just a handful of riders. They dropped Tadej Pogačar and most of the GC contenders with only Adam Yates, Daniel Martinez and Geraint Thomas able to match the Dutch team. Even Roglič couldn’t make the pace of his teammates near the summit of the short but steep climb.
At the top of the summit only van Aert remained after he distanced last men standing, his teammate Jonas Vingegaard and Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers).
Despite only a handful of seconds of an advantage van Aert built up around 30 seconds on the chasing peloton and held on to win his first stage of this year’s race. His record in the race so far is simply phenomenal with three second places and a win after just four days of race. He leads the race by a full 25 seconds and has a 61 point lead in the green jersey.
“Yeah it’s crazy. He’s half human, half motor. We can’t wish for more. It’s really unbelievable,” Roglic said at the finish.
The sight of Roglič unable to follow the pace on the last climb does raise short term questions over his form, especially given the fact that his teammate, and last year’s runner-up Vingegaard managed to last longer in the lead group once van Aert put the hammer down. The Slovenian played down the importance of his performance, stressing that his positioning had not been ideal on the approach to the climb itself.
“I’m proud to be a part of it. We were just there, the situation was there, and the guys were super strong. Then it just happened. When he goes, no one can go with him.For sure it would have been good but he was just too fast. I wasn’t in a super position entering the climb and then I made it up and in the end there was a gap.”