Mads Würtz Schmidt did well to sprint to fifth place on the challenging stage 5 of Critérium du Dauphiné. Israel Start-Up Nation’s team leader Ben Hermans also finished in the reduced peloton to keep his 17th place overall.
On paper, Thursday’s stage was another good opportunity for a strong break to make it all the way. Multiple riders tried to get up the road early on and, ultimately, five riders managed to get a gap. However, the peloton never let the group get more than a two-minute advantage and as the pack took on the final steep climb, it all came back together again.
With gradients of nearly 20%, many riders got dropped due to the fast pace at the front, leaving a select group of riders to fight for the stage win. Würtz Schmidt was well-positioned leading into the sprint and the strong Dane put on a great performance to take fifth place on the line. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) won the stage after a late attack, while Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA – hansgrohe) kept his overall lead.
Mads Würtz Schmidt: “This was a warm and hot day! I tried to get in the break at the beginning of the stage, but we didn’t get a big enough gap. Then Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quickstep) went away and because he was so close in the GC, the peloton never let the break go. We went fast all day, which made for a hectic day as well as the wind was quite strong too. On the last climb, I just kept my own pace, making sure not to get dropped and to make it over the top with the group. When Thomas attacked, I was actually thinking about going as well. In hindsight, I should probably have done that. In any case, I’m glad I was up there today and had the legs to race hard.”
— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com