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Defending champion Tadej Pogacar claimed a dominant time trial victory on stage five as Mathieu van der Poel narrowly retained the yellow jersey.

Pogacar, 22, finished the 27.2km course in 32 minutes – 19 seconds quicker than Stefan Kung in second on the day.

The Slovenian’s stunning ride saw him put more time into his rivals and almost claim the overall race lead.

But Van der Poel produced a defiant effort to finish fifth in Laval and is now eight seconds ahead of Pogacar.

“It was a really good day for me, luckily I had perfect conditions,” said Pogacar, who now has four stage wins at the Tour overall.

“I gained time so I’m super happy and excited for the whole Tour.

“I would love to have the yellow jersey too but it also looks super nice on Mathieu.”

Pogacar is now likely to take the yellow jersey before the week ends, having claimed it on the penultimate stage last year by overhauling compatriot Primoz Roglic in a thrilling time trial.

Defending it over two weeks will represent a new challenge for him and his UAE Team Emirates squad, but he already has an imposing lead over his main rivals.

Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic, who is heavily bandaged after being caught up in crashes on the first few days, produced a fine ride to finish seventh on the stage.

He has moved up to 10th overall but is already 1:48 down on his fellow pre-race favourite.

It was a tough day for Ineos Grenadiers’ leaders as 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, who sustained a dislocated shoulder in a crash on stage three, recorded 33:18 to finish 16th.

The Welshman is now 12th overall, 1:54 back on Pogacar, while Richard Carapaz just had to limit his losses, with the Ecuadorian slipping from third to ninth overall, 10 seconds ahead of Thomas.

“I went out conservatively, maybe too conservatively, but it’s just what I had,” Thomas told ITV4.

“I didn’t feel 100% but I don’t want to bang on about that. I tried to do what I could and it wasn’t enough.

“I woke up this morning and felt terrible but once I got going it was better. I’ve just got to crack on and deal with it.”

Stage five results

Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 32:00Stefan Kung (Swi/Groupama-FDJ) +19secsJonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma) +27secsWout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) +30secsMathieu van der Poel (Ned/Alpecin-Fenix) +31secsKasper Asgreen (Den/Deceuninck-QuickStep) +37secsPrimoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) +44secsMattia Cattaneo (Ita/Deceuninck-QuickStep) +55secsRichie Porte (Aus/Ineos Grenadiers) Same timeAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana) +1min

General classification after stage five

Mathieu van der Poel (Ned/Alpecin-Fenix) 16hrs 51mins 41secsTadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) +8secsWout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) +30secsJulian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-QuickStep) +48secsAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana) +1min 21secsPierre Latour (Fra/Total-Energies) +1mins 28secsRigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education Nippo) +1min 29secsJonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma) +1min 43secsRichard Carapaz (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) +1min 44secsPrimoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) +1min 48secs

Selected other

12. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +1min 54secs

SOURCE: BBC Sport – Cycling RSS   (go to source)
AUTHOR: By Jack Skelton
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