André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol has won his second consecutive stage of the 2012 Tour de France in Saint Quentin this afternoon as the peloton caught the four members of a day-long Stage 5 breakaway inside the final few hundred metres as they rounded the last bend. Matt Goss of Orica-GreenEdge was second, with Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank's JJ Haedo third.
Team Sky's Mark Cavendish was in the mix but couldn't match the German, although it's unclear whether that's because he couldn't find a way through or because he was still suffering from yesterday's crash. For the second day in a row there was a crash in the peloton around two and a half kilometres out, but this time Team Sky were at the head of the race and well out of trouble. The GC remains unchanged, with Fabian Cancellara still in the maillot jaune, seven seconds in front of Bradley Wiggins.
With Lotto-Belisol possessing arguably the strongest leadout train at this year’s Tour, Greipel, like Cavendish, was ahead of the crash towards the end of today’s stage. Not so lucky was Garmin-Sharp’s Tyler Farrar, who came down heavily and was struck by another rider as he lay on the ground as the team’s run of bad luck in the race continues.
Farrar’s crash, his fourth so far on this year’s race, also came on a day when manager Jonathan Vaughters had to deny rumours that Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie faced six-month bans after reportedly giving evidence in connection with the US Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation of Lance Armstrong and others.
Another rider involved in that crash was points classification leader Peter Sagan, brought down by a stray bike, and the Liquigas-Cannondale rider’s absence from the finale means that second placed Goss has moved to within 18 points of the Slovak, with Greipel a further five points back.
The crash did not however hamper the group’s pursuit of the four breakaway riders who had held an advantage of 45 seconds as they passed under the 10 kilometres to go banner and were still half a minute ahead with 5 kilometres left.
Cofidis rider Jan Ghyselinck jumped away to try and beat the odds for what would have been a rare solo win on a day that always looked set to finish in a bunch sprint, but after passing under the flamme rouge he was visibly tiring and was caught first by his three breakaway companions; moments the front of the peloton swept by as the sprinters left in contention fought it out for the win.
Absent was Argos-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel, struggling with stomach problems throughout the past few days in his debut Tour, who abandoned around 40 kilometres into today’s stage and is the fourth rider to see his race come to a premature end, with Team Sky’s Kanstantsin Siustou, Movistar’s Juan Joaquin Rojas and Maarten Tjallingii of Rabobank all suffering broken bones in crashes on Tuesday.
Earlier, at the day’s intermediate sprint, which came just after the halfway point at Breteuil, Cavendish once again saw off a challenge from his former HTC Highroad colleague and good friend, Matt Goss of Orica-GreenEdge, to pick up the maximum 11 points on offer once the four members of the day’s break had gone through.
With today being the only road stage of this year’s Tour not to feature a categorised climb, the intermediate sprint represented the only chance for the four men in the break to pick up a bonus, and it was FDJ BigMat’s Matthieu Ladagnous who led the quartet across the line. Also in the break besides him and Ghyselinck were Saur-Sojasun’s Julien Simon and Pablo Urtasun of Euskaltel-Euskadi.
Greipel becomes the first rider to achieve back to back stage wins in the Tour since Cavendish, who finished fifth today, achieved that feat in 2010.
That was the year in which the former Highroad colleagues exchanged words through the press with the German claiming that since he had the better early season form – Cavendish had been struggling as a result of an infection picked up during dental surgery as well as injuries sustained in a crash in the Tour de Suisse – he should be selected for the Tour.
Instead, it was Cavendish who was selected, the Manxman repaying his team management's faith by going on to win five stages despite a heavy fall in Brussels following a crash in the finale of the first road stage.
That argument was all forgotten last year after the pair went head to head for the first time in the Tour, with the narrowly beaten Cavendish the first to congratulate Greipel on his Stage 10 win in Carmaux, then getting his revenge the following day wih the positions reversed in Lavaur.
In keeping the maillot jaune, Cancellara will tomorrow spend his 27th day in the jersey he first wore in 2004 when, as this year, the Swiss rider won a Prologue in Liege; in doing so he achieves the notable landmark of being the rider who has spent the most days in yellow without ever having won the race.
Stage winner André Greipel, Lotto-Belisol:
"It was one of the most difficult sprints ever. I was nearly involved in a crash at a few hundred meters before the finish. I could just avoid a crash. I could barely stay on the bike and thought it wouldn't be possible anymore to sprint for the victory. But Henderson brought me back all the way to the front. At this sloping arrival I made the difference very clearly. I'm happy of course, you never get used to a victory in the Tour.
“The green jersey isn't a goal in itself. We only focus on stage wins. As a I said, competing with Sagan is not an option at the moment. I take back some points, but we don't consciously aim for green.
"I knew beforehand I could beat Cavendish. With such a strong team it had to happen sooner or later."
Points classification leader Peter Sagan of Liquigas Cannondale on today’s crash:
“In the images it is clear that a rider is determined to go, and his move is what brought us all down.
“This should not happen at this point in the race. I am angry because I lost points.
“When I came to the finish I was not scared. What's there to be afraid of? I was just angry. Then one of my team-mates, Sylvester Szmyd, lent me a wheel in order to race again. But it was too late to participate in the sprint.”
Maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara, RadioShack-Nissan:
“This run in yellow has been very enjoyable. After my crash early in the season I had to modify some of my goals, but I kept training hard and it has paid off. It’s pretty awesome! This has taken a lot of pressure off our team. In the second week of the Tour we can continue with less pressure. It was a great opportunity for us and we’ve taken maximum advantage of that. The team has performed so well.”
“Jens Voigt has so much motivation. He is unbelievable. His age might say 41 on his passport but he rides like he is 34, 32, I don’t know. He’s a super teammate and friend. I said to him ‘It’s impossible to think you’re close to retirement. I’d be so happy to turn back the clock a few years and continue riding with you and keep going.’ It’s a pleasure to ride with him and he’s always an inspiration to our team and to all of cycling.”
Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director:
“It’s another day down and another day closer to the mountains," he said. "It was an incident-free day for us and for most of the other teams which was what we had hoped for.
“The final didn’t work out quite how we wanted it but the guys were all there and they did a good job. We upped the ante and next time it will be better. Cav dropped back a bit at the finish and had a bit too much work to do at the end.
“We need to keep this going starting tomorrow and we will look to keep Bradley safe and set Mark up heading into the finish.”
Matthieu Ladagnous, FDJ-BigMat, winner of today’s combativity prize and one of the breakaway riders caught late on:
"It was possible. In the end, Ghyselinck has tried to anticipate as he knew he was slower than us in a sprint. After I told myself I would attack because it is better to lose trying to win, rather than just coming second. When the rider of Euskaltel attacked, I let him do his effort and I got back on track, but the peloton was right on us even thought we could see the finish line.
“This is the second time it happens to me when I've spent a day in the lead of a stage of the Tour. Of course I am disappointed. We had to play cat and mouse games with the peloton. It was no use to ride full-gas all day. But in the last 30 kilometres we gave it everything we had. It's a shame… but I will try to get in another breakaway, and try again to get a victory.”
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Tour de France Stage 5 result 1. GREIPEL André LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 04h 41' 30'' 2. GOSS Matthew Harley ORICA GREENEDGE All at same time 3. HAEDO Juan Jose TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK 4. DUMOULIN Samuel COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 5. CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING 6. VEELERS Tom TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO 7. FREIRE Oscar KATUSHA TEAM 8. PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE - ISD 9. HINAULT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE 10. GENE Yohann TEAM EUROPCAR 11. MOLLEMA Bauke RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 12. LADAGNOUS Matthieu FDJ-BIGMAT 13. BOZIC Borut ASTANA PRO TEAM 14. VAN HUMMEL Kenny VACANSOLEIL-DCM 15. MARTINEZ Egoi EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 16. BRAJKOVIC Janez ASTANA PRO TEAM 17. SANCHEZ Samuel EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 18. WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 19. MILLAR David GARMIN-SHARP-BARRACUDA 20. SCHÄR Michael BMC RACING TEAM Last man home on Stage 5 194. FARRAR Tyler GARMIN-SHARP-BARRACUDA + 00' 00'' General Classification after Stage 5 1. CANCELLARA Fabian RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 24h 45' 32'' 2. WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 07'' 3. CHAVANEL Sylvain OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 07'' 4. VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 10'' 5. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 11'' 6. MENCHOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM + 00' 13'' 7. EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 17'' 8. NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 18'' 9. HESJEDAL Ryder GARMIN-SHARP-BARRACUDA + 00' 18'' 10. KLÖDEN Andréas RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 00' 19'' Points Classification after Stage 5 1. SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 155 pts 2. GOSS Matthew ORICA GREENEDGE 137 pts 3. GREIPEL André LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 132 pts 4. CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING 119 pts 5. PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE – ISD 91 pts Mountains Classification after Stage 5 1. MORKOV Michael TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK 9 pts 2. BASSO Ivan LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 2 pts 3. SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 2 pts 4. DELAPLACE Anthony SAUR-SOJASUN 2 pts 5. MONCOUTIE David COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 2 pts Young Riders’ Classification after Stage 5 1. VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM 24h 45' 42'' 2. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 01'' 3. TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 12'' 4. SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 13'' 5. POELS Wouter VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 14''
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.