By Nigel Wynn
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) strengthened his lead in the Tour de France points classification with his second stage victory in the 2015 race. The German in green powered past Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) to win in Amiens.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) also managed to launch himself past Cavendish to claim second place behind Greipel, just in front of the Manxman.
Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) finished safely in the peloton with all of the main overall contenders to maintain his overall race lead.
Martin sits 12 seconds ahead of Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the first day of the race where there were few changes to the general classification.
Although you would have expected to have seen a group of riders making the most of a flat stage and grabbing some TV air time for sponsors, the day's early escape ended up consisting of just one rider: Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement).
Perichon had originally been part of a French duo with Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), but Edet dropped back after a handful of kilometres, leaving Perichon on his own. It was a tall order for a lone rider to survive on such a blustery day, and he was caught with 98km still to go.
After the catch, the speed of the peloton picked up considerably with BMC and Sky forcing the pace in the crosswinds and splitting the bunch, although Martin, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all made the front group along with Froome (Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
There was then a lull in the action as the peloton rolled along without any attacks. Then, with 25km to go, a large crash saw the back half of the lead group all held up, including French overall hope Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
Many of the riders caught in the crash managed to bridge back up and the lead group once again swelled, and stayed together until the finale.
A succession of teams and riders hit the front of the peloton in the last few kilometres, with Cavendish losing the wheel of lead-out man Mark Renshaw and getting boxed in. Cavendish was then forced to pick his own way up through the bunch, somehow getting to the front and leading into the final 50 metres before being beaten to the line by Greipel and Sagan.
Once again, crashes punctuated the stage. French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni was part of a crash with several of his Cofidis team-mates after just 12 kilometres. Bouhanni was taken to hospital, his race over. Jack Bauer (Cannondale-Garmin) was another abandonment after crashing twice.
Before the stage start in Arras, Chris Froome and Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) laid a wreath on the Commonwealth Memorial in the town commemorating those that died during World War I.
The race continues on Thursday with stage seven, heading west along the coast from Abbeville to Le Havre on a hilly 191.5km route that features three category four climbs and a final uphill kick to the line.
>>> Tour de France 2015 full stage seven preview
Tour de France 2015, stage five: Arras to Amiens, 189.5km
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal in 4-39-00
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx-QuickStep
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
7. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
8. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
9. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing all same time
19. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
22. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx-QuickStep
28. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
32. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing
34. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar all same time
Overall classification after stage five
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx-QuickStep in 12-40-26
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 12 secs
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 25 secs
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 33 secs
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal at 38 secs
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 40 secs
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx-QuickStep at 46 secs
8. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 48 secs
9. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 1-15
10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx-QuickStep at 1-16
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