Vincenzo Nibali, Mr Popular, cheers up the peloton by losing a load of time

2016 Tour de France, stage five

Vincenzo Nibali is, by many accounts, not the most popular rider in the peloton. It’s the general air of thinking he’s somehow better than everyone else that people seem to object to. Maybe he’s misunderstood.

It’s rumoured that team-mate and fellow Italian Fabio Aru would be quite far back in the queue were the Sicilian to somehow find himself ablaze in a urinal. Aru may therefore have been quite pleased to see Nibbles dropped from the group of favourites with 35km to go. He lost eight minutes. The hierarchy at Astana now seems pretty clear.

Alberto Contador also lost time. Just 33 seconds, but still a solid blow to his prospects. Considering he struggled on a much easier stage just a couple of days’ ago, it was hardly surprising and if anything he’s recovering rapidly – but how much time can he really afford to lose? Probably none – and he’s already shed way more than that.

The stage winner

Greg Van Avermaet! He got in the break, which built up a mega-lead, and then he ditched all his companions to take the stage and the yellow jersey.

You lose so often,” he said afterwards. He could, perhaps, have gone with an “I”. Then again, things have been going so well for him this year that he might even have worked out how to celebrate properly by now.

Stage six

The calm before the storm really. There’s a disruptive bump with about 11km to go which might shed a few riders, but it’s a probable sprint finish ahead of a long, tough weekend in the Pyrenees.

Specialities of this region include a load of cheese, a load of delicatessen-type stuff and a bunch of desserts. None of the dishes mentioned are particularly funny which is why I’m being so vague.

2016 Tour de France, stage six