Mark Cavendish finally got the win he wanted in Stage 5 of the Tour de France in Montargis this afternoon, delight clearly showing on the HTC-Columbia rider’s face as he crossed the line ahead of Milram’s Gerald Ciolek and Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen following a closely fought bunch sprint in Montargis.
The Manxman, whose victory today took him to 11 career Tour de France wins, desperately needed to succeed today after enduring a wretched start to the season through illness and injury.
One of the first riders to congratulate a beaming Cavendish after his win was Team Sky’s Brad Wiggins, suggesting that rumours of continued bad blood between the pair, said to date back to the Manxman’s disappointment at missing out on an Olympic medal when he rode with Wiggins in the Madison in Beijing, are wide of the mark.
Until today, Cavendish’s loss of form and run of misfortune, including a bad crash in the Tour of Switzerland just three weeks ago, seemed to have had continued into the Tour de France, with the 25-year-old coming off his bike on the final corner on Sunday’s Stage 1 in Brussels, while yesterday his legs seemed to give up as he attempted to lead the charge for the line in Reims in a stage won by Lampre-Farnese Vini’s Alessandro Petacchi.
That won’t matter right now as Cavendish and his HTC-Columbia team-mates celebrate today’s win, following a stage that appropriately enough began in Epernay, home of some of France’s leading Champagne houses.
However, their joy will be tempered somewhat by the fact that Cervélo TestTeam’s Thor Hushovd, winner of the green jersey in last year’s Tour de France and leader in the points classification this year, remains 52 points ahead of the British rider after marking him closely to come in fifth today.
Garmin-Transitions, with David Millar putting in a blistering turn at the front of the race as he looked to set up Tyler Farrar, had led the peloton coming into a tight, right-hand bend before the approach to the line, but once the riders had got safely through that corner, Mark Renshaw stepped on the gas to set up Cavendish’s successful charge to the line.
Alessandro Petacchi, winner yesterday in Reims and looking to claim his third win of this year’s Tour, was frustrated in his efforts as Farrar apparently moved across his line, forcing him to brake as he was pushed towards the left-hand barriers.
After the drama of Monday and Tuesday's stages that paid homage to the Spring Classics, today’s race like yesterday's followed the more usual script of a typical, sprinter-friendly stage in the opening week of the Tour de France, with three riders – Spanish national champion Jose Ivan Gutierrez of Caisse d’Epargne, Quick Step’s Jurgen van de Walle And Cofidis rider Julien el Fares – getting away in an early break.
The trio built an advantage of eight minutes by one point, until the peloton slowly started reeling them in as the sprinters’ teams ratcheted up the pace, with the final escapee, Guttierez, caught with four kilometres to go.
Top 20 Tour de France 2010 Stage 5
1. CAVENDISH Mark TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA 4h 30' 50" 2. CIOLEK Gerald TEAM MILRAM + 00' 00" 3. HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PRO CYCLING + 00' 00" 4. ROJAS Jose Joaquin CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 00' 00" 5. HUSHOVD Thor CERVELO TEST TEAm4 + 00' 00" 6. TURGOT Sébastien BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM + 00' 00" 7. McEWEN Robbie TEAM KATUSHA + 00' 00" 8. PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE - FARNESE + 00' 00" 9. MONDORY Lloyd AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 00" 10. FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 00' 00" 11. DUMOULIN Samuel COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 00" 12. OSS Daniel LIQUIGAS-DOIMO + 00' 00" 13. HONDO Danilo LAMPRE - FARNESE + 00' 00" 14. ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 00" 15. ARASHIRO Yukiya BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM + 00' 00" 16. FLECHA Juan Antonio SKY PRO CYCLING + 00' 00" 17. GRIVKO Andriy ASTANA + 00' 00"
18. HORNER Christopher TEAM RADIOSHACK + 00' 00"
19. CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA + 00' 00"
20. MARTINEZ Egoi EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI + 00' 00"
Top 20 on General Classification after stage 5
1. CANCELLARA Fabian TEAM SAXO BANK 22h 59' 45" 2. THOMAS Geraint SKY PRO CYCLING + 00' 23" 3. EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 39" 4. HESJEDAL Ryder GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 00' 46" 5. CHAVANEL Sylvain QUICK STEP + 01' 01" 6. SCHLECK Andy TEAM SAXO BANK + 01' 09" 7. HUSHOVD Thor CERVELO TEST TEAM + 01' 19" 8. VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 01' 31" 9. CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA + 01' 40" 10. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 01' 42" 11. ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 01' 42" 12. VAN SUMMEREN Johan GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 01' 47" 13. MENCHOV Denis RABOBANK + 01' 49" 14. WIGGINS Bradley SKY PRO CYCLING + 01' 49" 15. MILLAR David GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 02' 06" 16. KREUZIGER Roman LIQUIGAS-DOIMO + 02' 24" 17. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 02' 25" 18. ARMSTRONG Lance TEAM RADIOSHACK + 02' 30" 19. LÖVKVIST Thomas SKY PRO CYCLIN + 02' 34" 20. ROJAS Jose Joaquin CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 02' 35"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.