Stage five of this year’s Tour de France takes place on Wednesday with the riders going through another hilly stage from Lille to Arenberg.
It is a distance of 157km they will travel as the Tour begins to take shape following the first four stages, where that has already been plenty of excitement.
On Tuesday, Belgian rider Wout van Aert (9/2 to win Stage Five) won his first stage of the year to follow up a trio of second-places meaning he currently leads the general classification.
The Jumbo-Visma ride has been a model of consistency so far this season and finally managed to secure victory in a stage thanks to a magnificent late burst.
With around 10km to go, the 27-year-old went on the attack in the final climb and built up enough of a gap to hold on and win the first hill stage of this year’s Tour.
He finished eight seconds clear of the pack and is now 25 seconds clear overall, with stage one time trial winner Yves Lampaert second and Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (4/6 to win outright) third – seeking to win a hat-trick of Tour de France titles.
Speaking after stage five, Van Aert said he decided to take the risk by splitting from the pack and admits it was gruelling work.
“I didn’t want to take the risk anymore,” he said – referencing his photo-finish defeat in stage three.
“We were in a perfect position thanks to Nathan (van Hooydonck) and Stevie (Kruijswijk), then Nathan opened up on the climb, Tiesj (Benoot) took over and we heard on the radio there was some damage.
“So I decided to go on alone, and then it was 10km of all-out suffering.”
Stage five is likely to be a tough one for the field with 11 stretches of cobbles putting pressure on the peloton.
They total almost 20km of the final 80km so it will be another test of stamina on Wednesday.