Europcar’s Christophe Kern soloed to victory to take the fifth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné at the top of the second category Les Gets climb this afternoon, as Bradley Wiggins kept hold of the yellow jersey following another assured display.
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Frenchman Kern jumped out of the peloton with 2km of the 210km stage remaining, and managed to hold off Chris Anker Sorensen’s desperate attempt to catch him.
Thomas Voeckler led the peloton home, giving Europcar the one-three for the stage, but in the battle for overall glory, Wiggins survived the first of three tough stages that will decide the race.
After setting off from the Parc Des Oiseaux, a popular bird-sanctuary, the peloton flew through the first two hours of racing, cover 45.9km in the first 60 minutes, before an ever more impressive 50.2km in the second.
Undeterred by the fast start, RadioShack’s Jason McCartney leapt out of the peloton and soon gained an advantage of 12 minutes, helped greatly by a significant slowing in the main field.
Team Sky did not respond to McCartney’s sizeable advantage, as the American sat some 23 minutes behind Wiggins in the overall standings.
McCartney’s long and winding road
As soon as Katusha started working to reel the lone leader in, it was clear McCartney’s efforts were never going to see him take the stage.
With 40km remaining, he led by over seven minutes, but the gap was a little as 2-30 going into the final 15km.
McCartney was caught on the lower part the Montée des Gets, and dropped out the peloton almost immediately.
A flurry of attacks came once McCartney had been reeled in; the first was from HTC-Highroad’s Tony Martin, who was not only caught by the peloton, but also dropped from it.
Leopard Trek’s Oliver Zaugg tried his luck too, but faded badly with 3km remaining.
Kern took advantage of a dormant peloton and made his move as the race approached the summit, quickly gaining a comfortable lead.
Sorensen sought to catch him, but Europcar played out a tactical masterclass by asking Voeckler to cover the move.
Wiggins had no team-mates to help him by this point, but promptly responded to tame attempts from Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) to get away.
Cadel Evans, the Brit’s nearest challenger, looked far less comfortable than Wiggins on the climb, but managed to stay in the same group as the Sky rider.
Kern holds on
With his stocky frame, Kern hardly strikes you as being the most natural of climbers, but he managed to hold off the attempts from those behind him to take the first French win of this year’s race.
Wiggins did not make any efforts to go for third, but he didn’t need to waste any energy after riding so well all day.
No doubt he will have also had an eye on the weekend’s stages, both of which culminate with mountain-top finishes.
Crash for Roche
Irishman Nicolas Roche’s hopes for a high overall finish were dashed after the Ag2r rider crashed heavily during the stage. After spending several minutes on the road and being checked by the race doctor, Roche re-mounted his bike. He finished the stage over 25 minutes down on Kern and slipped from 16th to 131st overall.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011, stage five: Parc des Oiseaux – Villars-les-Dombes -Les Gets, 210km
1. Christophe Kern (Fra) Europcar 5-05-03
2. Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard at 7 secs
3. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 9 s ecs
4. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
8. Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervélo
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10. Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack all at same time
Overall classification after stage five
1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky in 18-02-27
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-11
3. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 1-21
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 1-56
5. Rui Da Costa (Por) Movistar at 2-12
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 2-28
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 2-45
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack at 2-46
9. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 2-52
10. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 2-52
Jason McCartney on his solo effort
Second place overall, Cadel Evans
Another good day for race leader Bradley Wiggins
Christophe Kern takes the stage win in solo style
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Related links
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Stage reports
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Photo galleries
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three ITT photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson