Thanks for following today's live blog - and be sure to return tomorrow for the first big GC summit with seven climbs and the mountaintop finish at La Planche des Belles Filles.
Saint-Dié-des-Vosges - Colmar
Tour de France - 10 July 2019
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It's worth noting that Van Aert's second place earns the Belgian six bonus seconds which puts him within 14 seconds of Alaphlippe on GC.
Yellow jersey Julian Alaphlippe sneaking into the top 10 there.
A gloriously inevitable win there for the Slovak showman, who flexes his abs in celebration after beating Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) in a reduced sprint.
Victory for Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe!
Now Sagan moves forward as Mitchelton-Scott set up Trentin...
Under the flamme rouge and it's Trek-Segafredo on the top for Stuyven, who hung on at the end of the climb...
Sagan is still quite far back. Sunweb are on the front but Bahrain now edging forward for Colbrelli.
Just a few seconds now for Costa, who looks over his shoulder and shakes his head. And that's that. He's caught.
Now Bora and Jumbo-Visma have come to the front for their men Sagan and Van Aert. Still 11 seconds for Costa.
Costa has 12 seconds as he passes under the 5km barrier. It's unlikely that he can pull off a win, but at least he's had a pop.
Rui Costa attacks! The Portuguese veteran zips clear to take advantage of a lull in the peloton. He's won three stages in the Tour but he hasn't won on a Grand Tour since 2013 and his last five years have been largely underwhelming since winning the Worlds. Nominally, it's a climber, but he's attacking on the flat. Sunweb lead the chase with three riders ahead of the Ineos train.
Carlton Kirby's tip, Alberto Bettiol, is still in this pack.
The reduced peloton passes under the 10-to-go barrier - and Boasson Hagen has the back of the pack in his sight. What a story this would be...
The last time the Tour came to Colmar, 10 years ago, the victory went to Heinrich Haussler, who soloed to glory in the rain to take his only Tour stage win - making up for that slender Milan-Sanremo loss to Mark Cavendish earlier in the season.
Boasson Hagen hasn't given up but he's not making up much ground on the descent.
Matteo Trentin is right up there in second place behind a Sunweb rider and ahead of Alaphlippe. The Italian from Mitchelton-Scott is another good bet for the win today.
Boasson Hagen comes over the top one minute down. The climb carries on for a bit beyond the KOM summit, but now Ineos and Jumbo-Visma have gathered on the front ahead of the descent. Alaphilippe is right there, too. He won two stages last year; could he repeat that today in the opening five days? Blimey, Fabio Aru is also there with Dan Martin, his UAE Team Emirates teammate.
Xandro Meurisse has come to the front to pick up an extra two points in the KOM standings. That will put him onto 6pts, in third place behind Wellens and Skujins.
Jasper Stuyven is digging deep to hold on - and the summit is coming up so he may be ok. Boasson Hagen, for all his efforts, is getting further back. We're hearing he had a mechanical just ahead of the climb, which took the wind from his sails.
Team Sunweb have now taken control of the pack working for their man Michael Matthews. The Australian will be one of the favourites now for the win alongside Sagan, Van Aert, Colbrelli and Alaphilippe.
Skujins is about to be caught and takes his frustration out on a fan who is running alongside him: wagging his finger at him and telling him not to be such a douch (or words to that effect). Meanwhile, off the back go Lilian Calmejane and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Oh, and Ilnur Zakarin who, like Simon Yates, is really suffering from his Giro efforts.
We're onto the final climb of the day, the Cat.3 Cote des Cinq-Chateaux (4.6km at 6/1%).
Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey, remains alert through a roundabout - picking the shorter option while most others go around the long route. The pack is just 25 seconds behind lone leader Skujins now ahead of the final climb, with the other remaining escapees now swept up.
There's still one more climb before the final descent and flat run to the finish - but with so many of the sprinters distanced, it's looking good for Peter Sagan. Although Sonny Colbrelli is still there, as is Alaphilippe and Wout Van Aert, so it won't be plain sailing.
Toms Skujins goes over the summit to take 5pts. Wellens and Clarke pass before the reduced peloton, who are led over by Xandro Meurisse, who adds the final point to his KOM tally. But Wellens will keep the polka dot jersey today provided he completes the stage.
Skujins has 15 seconds on Wellens and 40 seconds on Clarke. Wurtz Schmidt has been caught by the pack, which is 1'10" back.
They may have lost Viviani, but Deceuninck-QuickStep are also setting tempo on the front through Kasper Asgreen. Maybe they think Alaphilippe can win again today. Off the back goes Simon Yates, who is clearly entering this race overcooked from his efforts in the Giro.
Meanwhile, the first casualty from the break is Mads Wurtz Schmidt of Katusha, who has been dropped. And then Toms Skujins puts in a dig to ride clear of Wellens and Clarke.
Most of the pure sprinters have already been dropped: the likes of Elia Viviani, Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen, Andre Greipel and Alexander Kristoff are all off the back. This is exactly why Bora-Hansgrohe are riding hard - to make things easier for their man Peter Sagan should it come down to a reduce sprint.
The gap for the four leaders is 1'28" as they start the Cat.2 Cote des Trois-Epis (4.9km at 6.8%). This climb is apparently renowned in motorsports circles, although I wouldn't know anything about that.
With the next climb approaching, some of the teams of the big GC riders have come to the front - most notably Team Ineos.
Meanwhile, Martin and his chums are fighting back to rejoin the peloton.
Mechanical for Dan Martin of UAE Team Emirates, who has stopped on the side of the road with three teammates. Meanwhile, tempers flaring at the front of the pack with Max Richeze having a pop at Marcus Burghardt - we're not quite sure why.
The leaders look to be wilting in the sun. It's not particularly hot - around 21 degrees - but they have been out there for a bit over a few climbs. The gap is 1'40" as they crest the top of a leg-streching hill ahead of the next climb.
There may be another reason why Mads Wurtz Schmidt is in the break today - the Katusha rider (and all his teammates) needs to put himself in the shop window, if you believe the rumours.
The peloton is strung out in one lone line on this descent ahead of the next hill ahead of the next proper climb. The gap is down to 1'35". Things are about to get feisty.
Over the top goes the peloton, 1'40" in arrears. Caleb Ewan is off the back with his Lotto Soudal teammate Maxime Monfort, and will need to fight back into the peloton on the descent.
Wellens is now dancing on the pedals as the summit gantry comes in sight. And no one contests him for the 5pts over the top - he takes them ahead of Skujins, Clarke and Wurtz Schmidt.
There's a bit of stalemate on the climb with Bora, Sunweb and QuickStep continuing to set tempo in the pack, and the four escapees sharing the load two minutes up the road. Expect Wellens to pounce for the points on the summit, mind.
We're onto the first Cat.2 climb of the Tour, the Cote du Haut-Koenigsbourg (5.9km at 5.8%).
After that frantic start to the stage - which featured a real battle for the break to form - things have settled into a routine now. It's become rather sedate, to be fair, but should get a bit spicier with the two Cat.2 climbs coming up. The gap is 2'20".
The break pick up musettes in the feed zone with a gap of just over two minutes.
QuickStep, Bora and Sunweb all have men on the front now to keep this break in check. Wellens is having a pull as the gap grows to 2'15". They riding through the town of Epfig.
Here's how Viviani beat his rivals in that intermediate sprint.
When the pack come to the sprint, it's Viviani who's led out for fifth place - and 11pts - ahead of Sagan (10pts) and Matthews (9pts). So, Sagan extends his lead in many respects, but also sees it slashed by one point to his nearest rival, Viviani.
That said, it's the elder statesmen of the break, Clarke, who zips clear on the uphill drag to the line to take the points and prestige in the sprint. The gap is back to 1'58".
One kilometre until the sprint for the leaders, who probably won't contest it given none of them are in the hunt for the green jersey. A reminder of our four leaders: Belgium's Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Germany's Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin), Australia's Simon Clarke (EF Education First) and Latvian national champion Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo).
Another mechanical for Valverde, who needs to drop back to change his bike after that earlier wheel change didn't sort out the problem. He'll be able to join forces with the French national champion Warren Barguil, who is also off the back. Valverde's a good bet for the win today - provided he can sort out his wheels.
Puncture for the world champion Alejandro Valverde as the peloton passes through Obernai ahead of the intermediate sprint. Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora have come to the front for their men Viviani and Sagan, who are second and first in the green jersey standings.
Who are you backing? I think I'll go for Peter Sagan today - although Julian Alaphilippe could do something special. I think Carlton Kirby must have been paid by Alberto Bettiol to suggest him so frequently... Van Aert and Schachmann are good shouts, too.
The riders are passing through dense woodland and forests of the Bas-Rhin in eastern France - an area which used to be part of Germany before the War. Indeed, the borders have regularly changed over the years so the locals don't really know if they have to say 'bonjour' or 'guten Morgen'. The gap is down to 1'25" and so it's not looking good for this break, in all fairness.
It's Wellens who inevitably takes the 2pts going over the summit of the climb ahead of Skujins. Behind, it's big Marcus Burghardt who leads the chase for Bora on the front of the pack, which trails the leaders by two minutes over the top. They clearly want to keep things in check with a view to Peter Sagan having a sniff at the win today.
Poor Anthony Perez - the Frenchman drops back to the Cofidis car to pick up water bottles for his teammates, and he just gets on his way laden with bidons when he picks up a flat. A quick wheel change later and he's on his way, but somewhat weighed down and in need to catch up with the pack on the climb while in water-carrier mode. [Insert joke about Mark Cavendish being on the Tour after all... ho ho...]
And we're onto the first of those categorised climbs, the Cat.3 Cote de Grendelbruch (3.4km at 4.9%). The gap is 1'55".
Wellens has a polka dot steed and helmet to match his jersey today - but thankfully he hasn't gone full Pierre Rolland and worn spotty shorts, gloves and socks too. The Belgian leads the KOM standings on 7pts, with his nearest challenger, Xandro Meurisse, on 3pts. There are 14pts up for grabs today.
The peloton is all strung out behind as the Bora-Hansgrohe team of green jersey Peter Sagan bring the gap down to 1'45" in the lead into the first categorised climb of the day.
It seems like the peloton has finally accepted the state of play as the four-man move builds up a lead of two minutes.
And once again, it's back together - and once again, De Gendt is replaced by Wellens on the front of the race. Lotto Soudal are clearly up for today's stage. The Belgian is joined by Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin), Simon Clarke (EF Education First) and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) off the front.
Another dig from De Gendt, who goes clear with Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida).
That Wellens move comes to nothing. A fast and frantic start to the stage, with the riders now over an uncategorised hill and on a fast downhill segment.
That move comes to nothing and Tim Wellens now takes the baton from Lotto Soudal teammate De Gendt with a dig off the front. The Belgian was in the break on Monday when he picked up the polka dot jersey amid the vineyards of Champagne.
An early move sees Thomas De Gendt, Oliver Naesen and Ben King zip off the front. It's fair to say, today's terrain is ideal De Gendt ground.
Although the news on the ground is that Viviani is set to leave QuickStep for Cofidis next season, taking leadout man Max Richeze with him too... Filling his boots at the Belgian team is reportedly going to be the Irishman Sam Bennett of Bora-Hansgrophe.
Another good day for Deceuninck-QuickStep yesterday with Viviani adding a successive win after Julian Alaphilippe's ride into yellow on Monday.
And they're off!
Here's the official profile for today's stage - with a succession of lower-category cols likely to draw out some adventurists and wily opportunists...
Yesterday, Italy’s Elia Viviani put to bed his Giro d’Italia nightmare with a maiden win on the Tour, the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider powering to Stage 4 success in Nancy ahead of Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan. Victory for Viviani completed a Grand Tour hat-trick for the former Italian champion, who added a belated Tour scalp to his previous five wins on the Giro and three triumphs at the Vuelta a Espana.
Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour de France - breakaway heaven as the race tackles 175.5 rolling kilometres through the hills of the Vosges.