STAGE FIVE: Le Cap d’Agde – Perpignan
Wednesday, July 8
WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
The course continues to flank the Mediterranean, heading west towards the border with Spain.
After a rather undulating and technical team time trial yesterday, today’s route is significantly flatter. There are just two fourth category climbs on the agenda today; after that, it’s almost completely flat, with a slight rise on the finish into Perpignan.
Mark Cavendish already boasts a commanding lead in the green jersey competition and may be looking to scoop up a few more points along the way to bolster his lead before the race heads into the mountains.
Estimated finish time – 17.13 CEST
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
Despite the flat parcours, it will be a nervous stage for the bunch. As they stick close to the Mediterranean coastline, the stiff wind will continue to pose problems.
After the Columbia-initiated split on the road to La Grande-Motte, the main contenders and sprinters will be dead-set on ensuring that they stay at the head of affairs if the bunch fragments again.
Providing that the sprinters’ teams get their acts together, it should be a bunch sprint into Perpignan, giving the fast men another chance to play “Beat Cavendish”.
MEN TO WATCH
Mark Cavendish – The Manxman has already won two stages in this year’s Tour, showing that he is by far and away the fastest sprinter in the peloton. It will take either a breakaway, or for somebody to spoil Columbia’s lead-out train, for him to be beaten.
Tom Boonen – So far, the Belgian has been almost invisible in this year’s race, but the former green jersey-winner can never be discounted and will be looking to get one up on Cavendish.
Oscar Freire – More erratic than the weather in British summer time, the Spaniard is also one of canniest, most tactically astute and fastest sprinters in the bunch.
Thor Hushovd – The Cervélo man has made it through difficulties on both of the Tour’s opening road stages to emerge as Mark Cavendish’s main rival for the green jersey. After fourth and second places in recent days, will it be third time lucky for Thor?
Tyler Farrar – Farrar showed his potential with second place in Brignoles. However, he may have to pre-empt Cavendish and go early – following the Manxman only guarantees second place.
Romain Feillu – Though not an A-list sprinter, the diminiutive Frenchman is dab hand at picking the right wheel. He will favour a more chaotic sprint.
CW’S TIP TO WIN
Until another sprinter beats him, we’ve got to say Mark Cavendish.
WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS?
Yellow – Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
Green – Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC)
Polka-dot – Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux)
White – Tony Martin (Team Columbia-HTC)
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS
Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
Tour de France stage four TTT coverage
Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
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