Tour de France: Greg Van Avermaet wins mountain stage

By The Sports Xchange

Belgian rider Greg Van Avermaet won the first mountain stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday to claim the overall leader's yellow jersey.

The 31-year-old BMC rider was part of an early nine-man breakaway before accelerating past fellow Belgian Thomas De Gendt with 10 miles to go to win his second career Tour stage.


The 134-mile fifth stage from Limoges to Le Lioran, France, featured five climbs, including the 5,213-foot Pas de Peyrol.

"It's special for me. It's the best jersey in the world," Van Avermaet said. "It's my first time and perhaps the last so I will enjoy every moment. It's the best moment of my career. Winning a stage is already quite something but this takes it to another level."

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Defending champion Chris Froome of Great Britain and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana finished in the main pack.

Van Avermaet does not consider himself a threat for the overall title. He plans to support BMC captains Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte in the Pyrenees and Alps.

"It's good to have good morale in the team and to take the pressure off," Van Avermaet said. "The main goal for us is having Tejay or Richie on the podium in Paris."

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De Gendt finished second, 2:35 behind, and Rafal Majka of Poland crossed third. Peter Sagan, who was wearing the yellow jersey for a third day, fell out of contention.

In the overall standings, Van Avermaet holds a lead of 5:11 over French rider Julian Alaphilippe, with Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde third, 5:13 behind.

Stage 6 on Thursday is a flatter 118-mile leg from Arpajon-sur-Cere to Montauban.

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