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ARENBERG, France (VN) — Nothing seems to slow down Tadej Pogačar at the 2022 Tour de France, not even the 11 cobblestone sectors of stage 5.
The reigning Tour de France champion excelled on the rough road to Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut, going on the offensive to gain 13 seconds on many of his rivals.
“In the end, it was a really good day for me and the team,” he told journalists and broadcasters at the finish.
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Pogačar was often at the front of the race on the cobbled sectors, and he forced the pace as rivals Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard languished behind after a crash and mechanical misfortune, respectively.
He escaped with Belgian classics specialist Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) on the third-from-last sector and they were away together for the final 18 kilometers. “He almost dropped me a few times,” he said. “I struggled and held on his wheel and we finished in front.”
The UAE Team Emirates leader was grateful to Stuyven for his powerful contributions. “I’ll have to buy him a beer,” he said, laughing.
Thirteen seconds gained
Their lead on the chasing bunch approached a minute at one point. However, a ferocious rearguard action from Jumbo-Visma meant the eventual gain at the finish in Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut was 13 seconds.
Wout van Aert narrowly defended his maillot jaune, while Pogačar remains in the white jersey, fourth overall, 19 seconds behind. In terms of his closest challengers, he now holds an advantage of 21 seconds over Jonas Vingegaard, with Adam Yates 29 seconds back. It’s a strong start, with the steep finish at La Planche des Belles Filles on stage 7 promising to offer another considerable shake-up.
The Slovenian superstar had talked of worries about stress, crashes, and punctures before the stage, but he looked comfortable on the cobbles, a vision in white through the billowing dust at times.
It seemed so easy, one broadcaster remarked to him. “Oh, it was not easy at all,” he assured, adding later: “It was a really, really hard day. The cobbles were dusty and dangerous … I was in a good position through all the sectors and I felt good.”
Though Pogačar took the rough roads of northern France in stride, don’t expect him to dive headlong into the real Hell of the North. “Will I do Paris-Roubaix next year? No, you only had 11 sectors [today], that’s a big difference,” he said. “This was enough.”