Great tour so far, main contender Frank Schleck is out, and Cavendish only gets his first win today!
@Letour.frHis team insisted that Mark Cavendish was still the fastest man in the world despite a hiccup at the finish of stage four and in Montargis, the rider from the Isle of Man bolted ahead of all his rivals with 240 meters to go in the 187.5km stage from Epernay to claim his 11th stage victory in the Tour de France, his first in 2010. HTC-Columbia joined forces with Cervelo and Lampre to reel in the escape of the day and then Garmin-Transitions tried a sneaky move in the final three kilometers. Although it had numbers, Farrar was unable to finish off the job and he had to accept 10th place at the finish behind a group of sprinters that was chasing Cavendish all the way to the line. Tears fell as he stood on the podium a more humble man than the dominator of last year’s sprint stages. ‘Cav’ is back and he’s crying with joy…!
The Progress Report
The start of the 187.5km fifth stage of the Tour de France, from Epernay to Montargis, was at 12.53pm. There were 188 riders at the sign-on with Txurruka (EUS) the non-starter. On the menu on this hot day of racing, when temperature was 33 degrees Celsius at the start, were two cat-4 climbs – the cote de Orgais-l’Abbaye (18.5km) and cote de Mecrignes (36.5km) – and three intermediate sprints: in Vauchamps (27.5km), Ville-St-Jacques (126.5km) and Prefontaines (169.5km).
Gutierrez Takes Virtual Lead
At the 6km mark, Gutierrez (GCE) attacked and was joined by El Fares (COF) and van de Walle (QST). The Spaniard was the best ranked of the escape group, 50th at the start of the day, 3’24” behind Cancellara. By kilometer 21, Gutierrez was the virtual leader of the Tour as the peloton’s deficit to his escape was 5’50”. The maximum gain of the escape was 7’55” at the 28km mark and then HTC-Columbia sent Sivtsov to the front of the bunch; he was then joined by O’Grady (SAX). By 60km, the gain was reduced to 4’45”. These two were responsible for the pace of the peloton for about 80km. The average speed for the first hour was 41.2km/h; 38.3km/h for the second hour; and 41.3km/h for the third.
Setting Up The Sprint
With 50km to go, Lampre sent one rider to the front of the pack to assist in the pursuit. By then, the advantage had been reduced to 2’10”. Cervelo joined in the chasing duties with 27km to go. From there the advantage dropped steadily: 25km to go – 1’25; 15km to go – 1’10”; 10km to go – 40”. When the peloton got to within 20” (6.5km from the finish) Gutierrez attacked the lead group. With 5km to go, Gutierrez led the peloton by 12”. He was caught 4km from the line.
Garmin Lead It Out, Cavendish Takes The Win
The HTC-Columbia team didn’t have it all its way for the finale: it had the numbers at the head of the peloton but the Garmin squad squeezed up the right of the road with 3km to go. The team of Farrar had a force of five there for the final 2km and had three left as they led the peloton around the tight final turn with 600m to go. But then the wheels fell off for what looked like it might have been a surprise by the squad that hadn’t contributed to the chase of the escapees at all. Mark Renshaw proved that he is one of the the finest lead-out men in the world when he remedied what he said was an “error” from stage four – delivering Cavendish too soon – and this time he timed it to perfection. He dropped his leader off with 240m to go and then ‘Cav’ hit the turbo. He was chased all the way to the line by former team-mates Ciolek and Boasson Hagen but they didn’t have the speed to get around the master of sprinting. It is Cavendish’s 11th stage victory in the Tour de France.
Fabian Cancellara finished 32nd in the stage and will keep the yellow jersey for another day.