Thursday, July 08, 2010

TDF 2010: Stage 5: Sprint Finish Delivers Emotional Win

Photos: ASO (c)
 July 8, 2010
Today's 187.5 km mostly flat stage resulted in a nail biting field sprint and the first 2010 Tour stage win for the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish.

All of the top riders arrived in the field, and Fabian Cancellara retained his Yellow Jersey. Thor Hushovd keeps the Green Jersey with 100 sprint points, twice what Cavendish has at the end of the day.

At the start of this stage you can be sure Cavendish of HTC Columbia was burning up about his loss to Italian Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre Farnese in yesterday's stage ending in Reims.

“I’ve had doubts about myself, especially yesterday but we gave it a shot again and it’s nice to finally win," Cavendish told the press after his finish, while also tributing his teammates for his success.

Despite Canvendish's lukewarm performance at the Classics this spring, Bernhard Hinault referred to the Isle of Man born competitor as "an explosive rider" in Velonews, and predicted he would win today, now his 11th Tour de France stage triumph.

The emotional man who has been known to cry whether he loses or wins, had other personal events that hit him hard a few weeks ago: his grandmother died and Cavendish pulled out of the Tour of Switzerland to attend her funeral, saying he also felt stiff after a big crash two days earlier.

What's more, a lot was riding on today's stage: Cavendish and his teammates would not make the same mistake they made yesterday along the winding roads leading into Reims that forced them to start the sprint a few hundred meters too soon, enabling Alessandro Petacchi to benefit from the lead out, and besting Cavendish to the finish. One can only imagine the conversation in the HTC-Columbia team bus last night, full of recriminations and fits.

If you read the Manx Missile's book, Boy Racer (Velopress), you learn that he takes just about every defeat personally.

This is Cav's third Tour de France, and the fact that he had made it through two of the toughest stages is an accomplishment for the rider whose fast twitch muscles and lack of a lean climbing physique make him unlikely to win anything other than a flat stage.

The race started as most flat stages do, with three riders Gutierrez (GCE), El Fares (COF) and van de Walle (QST), forming a breakaway at 6 km from the start. Though the riders passed the Royal Chateau of Fontainebleau and other historic castles along the route from Epernay to Montargis, you can be sure it was all just a blur as the break drove the pace of the peloton behind them to an average of about 41.3 km per hour.

There were also two cat-4 climbs – the cote de Orgais-l’Abbaye at 18.5km and the cote de Mecrignes at 36.5km – and three intermediate sprints: in Vauchamps (27.5km), Ville-St-Jacques (126.5km) and Prefontaines (169.5km).

Kanstantsin Sivtsov spent about 100 km on the front of the peloton to reel back the break which at one point was more than 7 minutes ahead of the group. Sivtsov was then joined by O’Grady of Saxo Bank and by 60 km, the gain on the field was reduced to 4 minutes 45 seconds. 

At about 6.5 km from the finish Gutierrez valiantly attacked the lead group. With 5 km to go, Gutierrez led the peloton by 12 seconds. The peloton freight train then worked to reel in the break and caught Gutierrez about 4 km from the finish.

At about 3 km to the finish, the HTC-Columbia team tried to make its way to the front, but they were squeezed by the Garmin lead out boys trying to deliver their man Tyler Farrar, who had suffered from a broken bone in his wrist in Stage 2, to the front.  Then Bernhard Eisel of HTC Columbia came to the front and for about a kilometer or two he was leading out the Garmin team instead of his own riders.
Mark Renshaw came to the rescue and showed that he is one of the most valuable team riders when he allowed Garmin's lead out to burn out, and rode Cavendish out at 240 m to go. Cavendish spun into action and was chased all the way to the line by Gerard Ciolek and Boasson Hagen but they didn’t have the legs to get around the Manx Missile.
Seeing the 23-year-old finally win a stage of this year's Tour is heartening for anyone who has read his book.

For one, the autobiography written at such a young age makes one wonder how he could possibly have had the time to write a book given his bike training schedule. You also gain a much better sense of just how incredibly difficult it is for a anyone to get to the level where they are even allowed to compete in the Tour--by working much harder than most cyclists or human beings will ever work in their lives.

The final sprint brought out other interesting developments among the competing sprinters, a second place for Gerald Ciolek of Team Milram and third place for Boasson Hagen of Sky Team. 

“It is true that Boasson Hagen is perhaps spirited to become the main threat to my green jersey," said Hushovd who was squeezed in the turn at 600 m to the finish and burnt out before the final 50 meters. "It would be rather funny we might both be in the fight for the head of the points classification – or in a finish of a stage.”

Standings in General Classification at end of Stage 5:

1. CANCELLARA Fabian 13 TEAM SAXO BANK 22h 59' 45"
2. THOMAS Geraint 39 SKY PRO CYCLING 23h 00' 08" + 00' 23"
3. EVANS Cadel 121 BMC RACING TEAM 23h 00' 24" + 00' 39"
4. HESJEDAL Ryder 54 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 23h 00' 31" + 00' 46"
5. CHAVANEL Sylvain 131 QUICK STEP 23h 00' 46" + 01' 01"
6. SCHLECK Andy 11 TEAM SAXO BANK 23h 00' 54" + 01' 09"
7. HUSHOVD Thor 95 CERVELO TEST TEAM 23h 01' 04" + 01' 19"
8. VINOKOUROV Alexandre 9 ASTANA 23h 01' 16" + 01' 31"
9. CONTADOR Alberto 1 ASTANA 23h 01' 25" + 01' 40"
10. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 101 OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 23h 01' 27" + 01' 42"
11. ROCHE Nicolas 81 AG2R LA MONDIALE 23h 01' 27" + 01' 42"
12. VAN SUMMEREN Johan 58 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 23h 01' 32" + 01' 47"
13. MENCHOV Denis 191 RABOBANK 23h 01' 34" + 01' 49"
14. WIGGINS Bradley 31 SKY PRO CYCLING 23h 01' 34" + 01' 49"
15. MILLAR David 57 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 23h 01' 51" + 02' 06"
16. KREUZIGER Roman 44 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 23h 02' 09" + 02' 24"
17. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon 161 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 23h 02' 10" + 02' 25"
18. ARMSTRONG Lance 21 TEAM RADIOSHACK 23h 02' 15" + 02' 30"

Stage standings end of Stage 5

1. CAVENDISH Mark 111 TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA 4h 30' 50"
2. CIOLEK Gerald 142 TEAM MILRAM 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
3. HAGEN Edvald Boasson 36 SKY PRO CYCLING 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
4. ROJAS Jose Joaquin 169 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
5. HUSHOVD Thor 95 CERVELO TEST TEAM 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
6. TURGOT Sébastien 158 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
7. MC EWEN Robbie 75 KATUSHA TEAM 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
8. PETACCHI Alessandro 208 LAMPRE - FARNESE 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
9. MONDORY Lloyd 87 AG2R LA MONDIALE 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"
10. FARRAR Tyler 53 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 4h 30' 50" + 00' 00"

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