Mark Cavendish made it two wins in two days with a dominant sprint in Guegnon today. When he started his sprint he was instantly a bike length clear of American Tyler Farrar (Garmin), and neither he nor Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) were able to make any inroads in to his lead.
It was a clear indication that Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) is getting better and better as the race goes on, and the win sees him make up ground in the green jersey competition. He is now up to fifth, just 33 points behind leader Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) who could only manage tenth today.
But as good as Cavendish was a the end of today’s long hot stage, he owes the win to his lead out man Mark Renshaw. The Aussie was brilliant through the tight turns in the last kilometre and didn’t panic when the three-man Garmin train got a small gap in the last 500 metres.
Then in the final straight the Lampre rider in front of Renshaw sat up unexpectedly, but quick as a flash he was past him and on the wheel in front.
Without hesitation he then started his sprint before Cavendish jumped round him in the dash for the line. The overhead camera showed how far clear Cavendish was within just a couple of pedal revolutions and put to bed any fears that he, his team or anyone else may have had over his ability.
He may not be in the form he had last year when he won six stages, but he still has the best turn of speed in the peloton.
The temperature soared in to the mid thirties today as the race made its way south in to the middle of France as the peloton had to endure it’s longest day in the saddle. 227.5km took them over four category four climbs and countless bumps in between.
The daily three man break – that today was made up of Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma Lotto), Mathieu Perget (Caisse d’Epargne) and Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel Euskadi) – enjoyed the limelight today, but even getting reinforcements from Dimitri Champion (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) over the top of the final climb couldn’t save them from their fate.
Although HTC-Columbia had to once again do the lions share of the work, they were helped in the last ten kilometres by a stiff crosswind. With memories of last year’s stage to La Grande Motte still fresh in rider’s minds, all the favourites were suddenly at the front of the bunch.
First Cadel Evans (BMC), then Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) were seen in the front line of riders. At one point Alberto Contador was second wheel as Astana stretched the bunch.
With the contenders teams constantly moving to the front there was no need for HTC to set the pace. They came back to the front within the last kilometres but were soon overwhelmed by Lampre and Garmin. The American team seemed to have the initiative when three of them lead through the right and left hand bends just inside the last kilometre.
It looked like a perfect lead out for Tyler Farrar, but they hadn’t banked on Mark Renshaw.
Tomorrow the race hits the mountains as the race route heads east to Station des Rousses in the Jura mountain range near the Swiss border.
The profile has a category four climb, two category three climbs and three category two climbs, with the finish at the top of the third. Both race leader Fabian Cancellara and Brit Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) will be expected to fall down the general classification.
Thomas gained three seconds on Cancellara today as a small split opened up behind the sprinters.
Tour de France 2010, stage five: Montargis – Guegnon, 227.5km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Columbia 5-37:42hrs
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Transitions
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre Farnese
4. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha
5. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram
6. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
9. Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin Transitions
10. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
11. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
32. Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team at 3 seconds
40. Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test Team
131. Stephen Cummings (GBr) Team Sky
135. Charly Wegelius (GBr) Omega Pharma Lotto
157. David Millar (GBr) Garmin Transitions all at same time
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank 28-37-30hrs
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 20 secs
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 39 secs
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Transitions at 46 secs
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step at 1-01 mins
6. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 1-09 mins
7. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team at 1-16 mins
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 1-31 mins
9. Alberto Contador (Esp) Astana at 1-40 mins
10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto at 1-42 mins
14. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 1-49 mins
15. David Millar (GBr) Garmin Transitions at 2-06 mins
66. Stephen Cummings (GBr) Team Sky at 3-44 mins
107. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC Columbia at 9-08 mins
146. Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test Team at 19-23 mins
171. Charly Wegelius (GBr) Omega Pharma Lotto at 27-15 mins
Points: Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
Mountains: Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
Young rider: Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky
Sebastian Lang heads the escape trio
Sunflowers: Every Tour photographer’s dream
HTC-Columbia and Saxo Bank work at the front of the bunch
Mark Cavendish makes it two in a row
Fabian Cancellara maintains the race lead
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