The fifth stage of the Tour de France, known as the cobblestone stage, raises fears of the worst despite a last-minute arrangement.
D-10 for the Tour de France. And ten days before the start of the Grande Boucle, there is concern in the peloton. And not only because of the many cases of Covid which disrupted the Tour de Suisse, posing a threat to the Tour de France. But according to the riders, another danger awaits the peloton: the many pitfalls that will punctuate the first week.
The start of the race is really scary
“ The first week scares me”, thus entrusted Tadej Pogacar in the columns of the Gazzetta dello Sportthe Slovenian specifying: “There is a 12 kilometer bridge in Denmark over the North Sea, so there will be a risk of curbs and bad weather and then there is the cobblestone stage. It will be about survival.» An opinion shared by Romain Bardet. “The start of the race is really scary. At the end of three, four days, I expect to see already some big names coming home. The wind, the curbs, the cobblestones, the nervousness… I don’t really know what to expect. It’s going to be war”, he explained.
The fifth stage, that of the cobblestones, is particularly worrying. And the concern seems to be shared by the organizers. Evidenced by their decision to change the direction taken on the first sector, the famous Arenberg gap. “The installation of a new road obstacle at the entrance to the first cobbled sector (n°11) prompted the organizers to define a detour so that the race takes the sector in the opposite direction to preserve the safety of the runners”thus made it known the organization.
The second sector fears the worst
But it is another sector that worries. “The second cobblestone sector surprises me. If I was the organizer of the race, I would never have integrated it into the course »had confided in the spring Aart Vierhouten, the sports director of UAE. ” It’s dangerous “, he had added, pointing out that this “paved area is downhill”.
“There is no alternative path on the right or the left of the roadway. This goes against the safety that has been so hyped up lately, he again launched. Between the intermediate sprint and the first cobblestone sector, everyone will still be full of adrenaline. On the last sectors, we could end up with a group of around forty riders. But, on these first sectors, we will burn a whole peloton. It’s dangerous. »
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