Tour de France: Stage 5 reactions

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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), stage winner and new overall leader

“It feels great. The yellow jersey, I was never dreaming about this. It’s a big dream come true. I was happy with the stage win last year, now I’ve got a stage win and the yellow jersey. I think it’s once in a lifetime for me and I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible tomorrow.

“I felt pretty good. Grivko and Majka were not working, so me and Thomas did a really good job. We were the strongest guys in the break. We made the race hard and we made the gap big. We saw the peloton wouldn’t come back and on the steep climb I felt pretty good. I just went on my own because I was strong enough to hold it to the line.

“For me it was a big surprise that I’m riding tomorrow in yellow. I was hoping for it because I was still close in GC. I was still up there. Everything went perfect, and finally I got the stage win and a nice yellow jersey.

“I wanted to be sure I had the victory and the yellow. The last km I could enjoy it a bit, but before then there was so much suffering. You have to lose a lot to enjoy the time you are winning.

“Pyernees will be too hard for me. But one day is enough, afterwards we’ll see how long I can keep it.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff)

“It was better than I expected, I lost less time than I thought I would – I knew it was going to be a difficult stage, and I knew the other teams would make it tricky for me. The last part of the stage was really tough. I found it hard to breathe. I’ve lost some time, there’s no doubt about it. But every day I can recover some of that. I have to wait and see what I can do and I’ll give it my best.

“I’m feeling better than I was a few days ago. I felt pretty good towards the end of the stage. I’ve worked very hard over the last months to be here in the best condition I could. Obviously crashes in the opening stages is not ideal, but I feel like I’m bouncing back. I also feel I’ve done my best and that’s all I can do.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

“The team was phenomenal, we worked really well. It was quite a demanding first day in the mountains. We wanted to accelerate the race to test ourselves and test our rivals.”

Chris Froome (Sky)

“There were some tricky climbs and dangerous descents. From our point of view we’re happy with that, happy to stay out of trouble. One day down.

“It wasn’t in our interest [to put a rider up the road], it was more about keeping out of trouble. The big GC days are still to come. Today was selective but not a big showdown.

“I was surprised by Vincenzo [Nibali]; I’d have expected him to come here with his A game. With Alberto [Contador] that’s quite normal after the couple of big crashes that he’s had. No one wants to see that, myself included. I’d rather gain time in the mountains, not becuase he’s suffering with injury.”

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)

“It was very hard, a tricky day. It was hard to concentrate out there. At the beginning I felt Sky were controlling the race pretty well, but I’m not entirely sure how that developed. I have to say in the climbs I felt things were going very well. I feel pretty good and I hope that can continue.”

Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

“It was s super impressive ride. It’s great for the team and great for Greg. He’s had a difficult season and he really deserves it.

“Movistar really opened it up with a couple of climbs to go when it got steep. I wasn’t expecting them to go that hard because the breakaway was pretty much gone and they didn’t have the stage victor in mind. But it definitely softened up the legs for some of the guys.

“I think tomorrow we’ll help control the breakaway. I don’t think we’ll have to do much work in the wind because the sprinters’ teams will probably want to control affairs and pull the breakaway back for us. So I think we’ll just enjoy the day in yellow, stay relaxed and get prepared for the Pyrenees.

“Quintana looking good. Froome is looking good. They put their teams on the front and made it hard. I was surprised to see Nibali dropped. That’s a big shock, given that he just won the Giro. Contador, I don’t know if he’s playing games. He didn’t look at his best, but he could still be recovering from the crash.

David Brailsford (Sky manager)

“We knew it was going to be a difficult day. This area has hard roads, heavy roads, it’s up and down all day. Even a standard day would be hard, but a day like today was always going to be a bit grippy. Added into the mix is the early break, who’s going to be in there, who is going to take responsibility for the riding. The guys just kept it in check. Movistar took it up and rode hard up that climb. But the guys were good and in control, and there was no problem.

“Who knows [the Movistar] tactic for today, you have to be ready for it, different teams taking it up. They put one rider up there early on – but each team to their own, you have to be proactive. Our job was to get through in good shape without losing any time, and we did.

“The first day’s transition from the flat to the hills always has a few surprises. Some people find their rhythm, others are a bit blocked. When we selected the team, we have quite an array of climbers, the probability one or two will be not quite on a good day, and one or two are, and you can rotate them. Geraint [Thomas] and Mikel [Nieve] and Sergio [Henao] were there. Geraint has quite a substantial injury to his ribs, and for him to be up there to perform we didn’t expect that. Either he’s a super tough guy or he wants to get back early for the Welsh (football) match.”

Richie Porte (BMC)

“I felt really good, personally. It’s a great day for the team, firstly but it’s also nice to get into the climbs.

“It was Bardet who attacked on the final of that climb and I think that played a part in it. It was such a hot day but the main aim for us was to just stay safe. We both had a good day and Caruso was great as well. We’ve seen some good signs.

“There’s never an easy day in the Tour. It might look like it but it’s still stressful back there. Also that last 70 kilometres was full gas.

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