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Tour de France: Greg Van Avermaet takes lead with stage five win

Greg Van Avermaet wins Stage 5 and takies the Yellow Jersey at the 2016 Tour de France
Image: Greg Van Avermaet claimed victory out of the breakaway

Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet moved into the overall lead of the Tour de France by winning a hilly fifth stage on which Alberto Contador lost more time to his rivals.

Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) formed part of a nine-man breakaway but moved into a solo lead with 17km remaining and pulled away to win by 2min 24sec from runner-up Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and 5min 4sec from third-placed Rafal Majka (Tinkoff).

A heavily thinned-down peloton containing Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) crossed the line in Le Lioran three seconds after Majka, but Contador (Tinkoff) was distanced on the day's final climb and finished 33 seconds later. 

Alberto Contador, Tour de France, stage six
Image: Alberto Contador lost 33 seconds to his rivals for overall victory

Van Avermaet started the day just 18 seconds off the yellow jersey but now climbs to the top of the general classification and opens up leads of 5min 11sec over second-placed Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx - Quick-Step) and 5min 13sec over third-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Froome and Quintana are 5min 17sec down in fifth and seventh respectively, but Contador is now 6min 38sec back, 1min 21sec adrift of his two main rivals for overall victory.

Contador: I struggled to breathe
Contador: I struggled to breathe

Alberto Contador struggled to breathe on stage five of the Tour de France

Previous race leader Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) was distanced when the pace in the peloton soared over four back-to-back climbs in the final 50km, while 2014 Tour and 2016 Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was also dropped early as his general classification hopes collapsed.

Van Avermaet, who won a stage of last year's Tour, said: "It's a special moment, one of the nicest of my career.

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LIMOGES, FRANCE - JULY 06: Chris Froome (2R) of Great Britain and Team Sky heads towards the finish during the 216km stage five of Le Tour de France from L
Image: Chris Froome finished safely in what was left of the peloton

"Winning a stage of the Tour is so hard, so I'm happy I have a second one, but then taking the yellow jersey is once in a lifetime for me because, for my type of rider, there are not too many chances to take yellow.

"Today everything went perfect. If it's only one day in your career, you are so happy, so I am happy I have won."

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Stage five took the riders 216km from Limoges to Le Lioran ski station and did not look like a day for a breakaway winner given gaps in the general classification were still tight.

However, when Van Avermaet, De Gendt and Andriy Grivko (Astana) attacked out of the initial nine-man escape, they were bizarrely allowed to open up a lead of more than 15 minutes as Sagan's Tinkoff and rival teams Movistar and Team Sky engaged in a stand-off.

Greg Van Avermaet and Thomas de Gendt in action during Stage 5 of the 2016 Tour de France
Image: Van Avermaet left Thomas de Gendt (right) behind with 17km to go

Team Sky finally upped the tempo ahead of the final barrage of climbs, but then Movistar took over and set a savage pace that blew the peloton to pieces and led to the likes of Sagan, Nibali and Team Sky duo Mikel Landa and Wout Poels being dropped.

The Spanish team only slowed when the gap was down to six minutes, by which point Van Avermaet, who is not a good enough climber to challenge for overall victory, had attacked and was leading solo.

Nibali: 8min loss normal
Nibali: 8min loss normal

Vincenzo Nibali insisted the 8min 38sec he lost to the overall favourites on stage five was "normal"

It then looked like the favourites would finish together, but a small attack from Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) at the summit of the final climb prompted a rise in speed that Contador couldn't live with, while Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) also lost 16 seconds.

The Tour continues on Thursday with a 190.5km sixth stage from Arpajon-sur-Cere to Montauban. Find out more about the route in a our race guide and follow the stage with our live blog from 1pm BST.

Stage five result

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, 5:31:36
2 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal, +2:24
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff, +5:04
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, same time
5 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step, +5:07
6 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 18, st
7 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step, st
8 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, st
9 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
10 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, st
Selected others
15 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
22 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, st
23 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +5:23
30 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff, +5:40

General classification

1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, 25:34:46
2 Julian Alaphilippe (fra) Etixx - Quick-Step, +5:11
3 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +5:13
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +5:14
5 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +5:17
6 Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin, same time
​7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, st
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac, st
10 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step, st
Selected others
22 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +5:57
25 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff, +6:38

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