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Gallery: Chaos on the cobbles as Clarke conquers on Stage 5 of the 2022 Tour de France

6 Jul 2022

The Tour de France returned to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and all hell broke loose with GC drama and a breakaway win

Words: Will Strickson Photos: Pete Goding

Swear words. What a day. The Tour de France returned to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix today and it turned out to be an all-time classic stage.

It was a 157km affair from Lille to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut – but sadly just passing next, and not through, to the famous Trouée d'Arenberg. There were 11 secteurs for riders to navigate, which broke the day’s action into several races in one as riders who normally would stay well clear of racing on cobbles had to face the music.

Unlike the past few days it was action from the jump, with mechanicals before the flag had even dropped. The day’s breakaway formed almost immediately, though a few more riders bridged across after our first three got away.

Magnus Cort, Neilson Powless, Taco van der Hoorn, Simon Clarke, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexis Gougeard were the group established. A strong group with bags of experience and two riders, in Powless and Boasson Hagen, that weren’t too far away on GC for a potential yellow jersey shift.

As the peloton hit the cobbles, the gap began to close but the escapees, although fracturing themselves and dropping Gougeard, held on.

Behind, every inch was fought over to lead the bunch into the pavé with accelerations made and brief attacks but nothing that stuck. It was a case of who could stay with it rather than who could attack.

Wout van Aert had mechanical issues, Jonas Vingegaard had a mechanical issue and subsequently an enormous borrowed bike, and Primož Roglič was taken out by a stray hay bale that was knocked into the road by the camera motorbike.

After their heroics on Stage 4 it was a bad day for Jumbo-Visma, who had to deploy riders to help bring Vingegaard back, with Van Aert himself putting in a huge shift. They didn’t have enough men to save Roglič too, however, and the Slovenian was forced to pop his own dislocated shoulder back in and fight on.

It ended up with the two big groups of Jumbo’s leaders chasing as Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven put in a powerful dig to establish a gap and Tadej Pogačar was the only one that could follow. Is there anything he can’t do?

The break – apart from Magnus Cort, who couldn’t quite hold on after being in the break every day of the Tour so far – came to the final kilometre together, 51 seconds ahead of Stuyven and Pogačar. Powless went long and got a gap as a final effort to make up the seconds needed to take yellow, Boasson Hagen rolled back the years and went over the top but looked to have given it all too early. Van der Hoorn started the sprint proper with his classic head bobble. But then Clarke pulled alongside and forced the photo finish, just about winning it on the throw.

At the start of the year the 35-year-old Clarke was without a team and staring down retirement. Now he’s just won the biggest race of his career for an Israel-Premier Tech outfit struggling for even a sniff. What a day.

In the end, Pogačar only gained 13 seconds on the main bunch, which may come in handy, but Roglič came home two minutes later and his Tour chances may be over once more. Vuelta 4 is on.

But you watched it because it was amazing, so you knew that. Here are the photographic highlights of another historic day on the cobbles from Pete Goding.

Big props to our first successful breakaway of the Tour. Each one of them deserves high praise and would’ve been worthy winners.

Rigoberto Urán tried to get in the break but it didn’t quite happen for him. That would’ve been a great story.

You have to feel for Roglič, he just has zero luck.

Peter Sagan struggled too, as did teammate Anthony Turgis who crashed several times and is now the Lanterne Rouge.

Just two cyclocross lads hanging out and that.

Adam Yates is one of three Ineos riders rounding out the top ten on GC, alongside Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas.

Fabio Jakobsen put in a strong ride to come in at the front of the main bunch just behind Jasper Philipsen, who didn’t celebrate today.

Good to see Tim De Clercq out supporting his teammates.

A photo finish after a stage like that is not fair, not everyone’s hearts can handle those kind of BPMs.

Signing Clarke may prove to be Israel-Premier Tech’s best ever piece of business

For all our coverage, head to our Tour de France hub