The seemingly gentle hills of central France turned stage five between Chablis and Autun into what could be a decisive day in this year?s race after overall favourite Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) crashed and lost 1-20 to his main rivals.
Vino tumbled 25km from the finish, landing heavily and hurting the inside of his left knee and his right buttock. He struggled to get going and even the help of seven team mates could not get him back on to the bunch on the slopes of the last climb as the racing exploded.
Vino caught a chase group and rode the descent, with Tom Boonen (Quick Step) helping him chase, but he crossed the line with his head bowed. He is now 81st overall, 2-10 behind race leader Fabian Cancellara, 1-37 behinds his team mate Andreas Kloden and a minute behind most of his overall rivals.
Earlier in the stage Kloden also took a tumble, landing on his back in a ditch. He was briefly treated by the race doctor and finished in the same time as Pozzato but may have hurt his lower back.
Italy?s Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) won the stage with an impressive sprint ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre). Pozzato weaved his way through his rivals in the final three hundred metres to take his second Tour de France stage win of his career. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) finished in the same time as Pozzato but the classy Italian moved up to third overall, 35 seconds behind Cancellara, and just two seconds behind second placed Kloden.
David Millar (Saunier Duval) made a late attack with 1.6km to go but was caught 500 metres from the line. However he kept his fourth place overall, 41 seconds behind Cancellara.
The rolling stage meant a hard day of racing for the peloton with both the climber?s and sprinter?s jersey changing hands. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) took the polka-dot jersey after being part of the stage-long break with Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux), while Erik Zabel (Milram) pulled on the green jersey thanks to his fifth place on the stage.
Like fellow sprinters Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Robbie McEwen (Predictor) Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) was dropped on the second category climb in the final part of the race and finished more than 22 minutes down.
Friday?s 199.6km sixth stage is from Semur-en-Auxois to Borg-en-Bresse and is the last flat stage for the sprinters before the Tour de France heads into the Alps.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2007: STAGE FIVE RESULTS
1 POZZATO Filippo (Liquigas) 182.5km in 4-39-01
2 FREIRE Oscar (Rabobank)
3 BENNATI Daniele(Lampre-Fondital)
4 KIRCHEN Kim (Ti-Mobile)
5 ZABEL Erik (Milram)
6 HINCAPIE George (Discovery Channel)
7 MORENI Cristian (Cofidis)
8 SCHUMACHER Stefan (Gerolsteiner)
9 TANKINK Bram (Quick Step)
10 PINEAU Jerome (Bouygues Telecom) all at same time
37 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval) at same time
124 WIGGINS Bradley (Cofidis) at 4-57
159 WEGELIUS Charly (Liquigas) at 11-15
172 THOMAS Geraint (Barloworld) at same time
181 CAVENDISH Mark (T-Mobile) at 18-32
OVERALL AFTER STAGE FIVE
1 CANCELLARA Fabian (CSC)
2 KLODEN Andreas (Astana) at 33 secs
3 POZZATO Filippo (Liquigas) at 35 secs
4 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval) at 41 secs
5 HINCAPIE George (Discovery Channel) at 43 secs
6 GUSEV Vladimir (Discovery Channel) at 45 secs
7 KARPETS Vladimir (Caisse d’Epargne) at 46 secs
8 ASTARLOZA Mikel (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 49 secs
9 DEKKER Thomas (Rabobank) at 51 secs
10 VAUGRENARD Benoit (FDJeux) at 52 secs
105 WIGGINS Bradley (Cofidis) at 5-40
154 THOMAS Geraint (Barloworld) at 12-22
159 WEGELIUS Charly (Liquigas) at 12-31
182 CAVENDISH Mark (T-Mobile) at 22-29
1 ZABEL Erik (Milram)
1 CHAVANEL Sylvain (Cofidis)