Greg Van Avermaet secured a superb breakaway victory on stage five of the Tour de France to take ownership of the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.

The BMC Racing rider, who won a stage at last year's Tour, was part of an initial trio of riders including Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) who established a huge gap over the peloton.

And Belgian Van Avermaet 31, broke clear on his own with 17 kilometres remaining of the 216km trek from Limoges to Le Lioran, which included four categorised climbs in a difficult final 45km, to seal a brilliant solo win that puts him over five minutes clear in the overall classification.

"It feels great. It's a dream come true," said Van Avermaet.

"I was happy with the stage win last year but now to have a stage win and the yellow jersey, it's once in a lifetime and I'm going enjoy it as much as possible tomorrow."

The early stages of the race were somewhat sedate with riders jostling for position, but eventually a nine-man break materialised.

However, there was little cohesion among the break and De Gendt, Van Avermaet and Grivko soon formed a three-man lead group.

Further back there was a tangle in the peloton, including Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) who had started the day with the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountains leader, but no one appeared harmed.

With just over 70km remaining the three leaders held a lead of 15 minutes to the peloton.

As the stage became significantly more uphill the peloton was able to chip away at the lead - the final gap coming down to just over five minutes - and Grivko was dropped with a little over 30km to go.

Back in the peloton, Movistar set a relentless pace to try and make a move, which saw Peter Sagan – who started the day with the yellow jersey - dropped, while 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) also struggled badly and lost over eight minutes on the main yellow jersey contenders.

It soon became apparent that one of Van Avermaet or De Gendt would take the stage, though, and it was the former that accelerated away to take up the challenge alone.

There was still work to do, but Van Avermaet had the legs to reach the line first and take the yellow jersey, while De Gendt had the consolation of the polka dot jersey after coming home second, two minutes and 34 seconds back.

The rest of the challengers approached the line and a series of mini attacks led to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) - who has crashed twice in a torrid Tour so far - struggling to respond.

Contador finished 6 mins and 38 secs off the winner, but more crucially lost one min and 12 secs to defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) and the other main general classification contenders.