- The race 2011
- All about the race
He may have missed on two days ago when a stage finished in a bunch sprint but Mark Cavendish was not going to let that distract him from his mission: winning stages. In Cap Fréhel he proved – yet again – that he is “the fastest man in the world” when he came from 10 places back in the final sprint to overtake the world champion, the Belgian champion, and all others who dared take him on in his domain. This was a flat stage and that’s when the Manxman shines. It might have been a complicated race to the finishline but he managed it perfectly and collected his 16th Tour de France stage win in style.
This was how the stage ended but many will remember it as the day when many favorites fell. Contador, Gesink, Chavanel, Boonen, Leipheimer and Brajkovic all crashed… and while only the latter was forced to abandon, the effects of the incidents in the middle of the stage are bound to play a roll in how the rest of the race is ridden.
The Progress Report
With overcast conditions but dry roads, the fifth stage of the 2011 Tour de France – a 164.5km journey from Carhaix to Cap Fréhel – began at 1.49pm. There were 197 riders at the sign on. The stage featured on categorized climb, the cote de Gurunhuel (cat-4 at 45.5km) and the intermediate sprint was in Goudelin (at 70km). The attacks began as soon as the flag was waved with Saur-Sojasun, Vacansoleil and Euskaltel riders the aggressors. It wasn’t until the fourth kilometer, however, that an escape gained a real advantage. The instigator of the move was Gutierrez (MOV) who was joined by Valentin (COF), Turgot (EUR) and the youngest in the race Delaplace (SAU). By 35km their lead was 5’00”. The average speed for the first hour was 43.2km/h. Delaplace surged ahead to take the only climbing point on offer today; Garmin led the peloton over the top 5’30” behind the four escapees.
Wiggins, Leipheimer, Chavanel, Contador and Sorensen Caught Up In Crashes
Around the 60km mark, there was a crash that involved about 12 riders including Chavanel (QST), Wiggins (SKY), Ten Dam (RAB), and Leipheimer (RSH). Soon afterwards Liquigas riders assembled just behind Garmin at the front of the peloton. The pace dropped a little and the escapees advantage blew out to 6’00” – this was the maximum gain of the escape. Around the 63km mark, there was 1’00” between the peloton and Leipheimer’s group. Movistar and HTC led to the intermediate sprint and Boonen (QST) hit out by sprinting up the left of the road. By the time he reached the line, he was on the far right. Cavendish gestured with his right hand in frustration at what was a far from rudimentary sprint. Feillu (VCD) raced passed Boonen to claim fifth-place points; the Manxman was 13th in Goudelin, while a rival for the green jersey, Rojas (MOV) was ninth.
Brajkovic (RSH) crashed along with Gesink (RAB) at 71km the Dutchman took some time to remount his bike but the Slovenian abandoned the Tour with head injuries and was taken away in an ambulance. At 72km, Contador (SBS) was caught in a fall. The peloton didn’t appear interested in easing off the pace to wait for any of the fallen riders. Leopard-Trek was at the front of the bunch not long after the spate of crashes but, as Contador, Gesink, other fallen riders and their team-mates returned, Garmin assumed position back at the front of the peloton that was 3’00” behind the four escapees.
Soon afterwards Nicki Sorensen (SBS) was clipped by a passing moto and crashed on the right of the road. He too rejoined the peloton after an impressive chase on a replacement bike. Around the 90km mark, Kern (EUR) abandoned the Tour.
At 102km Boonen and Steegmans (QST) as well as Boom (RAB) were caught up in a crash. It took some time before the 2007 green jersey winner remounted his bike. The average speed for the second hour was 46.8km/h.
Escape Ends 45km From the Finish…
The crashes contributed to a sense of urgency for riders vying for a position near the head of the peloton. This, combined with a tailwind, contributed to a rapid pace for the third hour. The escapees were unable to hold on to any advantage and they were caught with 45km to go. With 33km to go, Roy (FDJ) attacked and was followed by Voeckler (EUR). There was no reaction from the peloton and with 25km to go, they were 40” ahead. The finale featured two distinct groups: one chasing the stage win, the other trying to keep their GC contenders safe. BMC, Astana, Saxo Bank-SunGard and Liquigas spent most of the time at the front of the peloton until the HTC Express arrived with about 10km to go. Still, the two Frenchmen insisted with their efforts, not surrendering until they absolutely had to. Roy retreated into the peloton with 3km to go, Voeckler lasted another kilometer but then the sprinters began to work their magic.
Martin led Goss under the ‘Flamme Rouge’ and the German TT specialist opened up a significant gap. Boasson Hagen responded, chased him down and then tried to catch the pure sprinters off guard and surged into the lead with about 800m to go but he was caught by Feillu who also started his sprint too soon… only to fail to maintain his speed. Hushovd then found himself in the lead but not for long as Gilbert came around him in the final 300 meters. At this stage Cavendish was behind and in about 10th place but he turned on the turbo and put himself where he wanted to be: in the lead in the final 25 meters. He claimed his 16th stage win since in the Tour de France.
Hushovd finished 10th and Evans 11th ; the Norwegian will wear the yellow jersey in stage six.
The fifth stage was a day for OmegaPharma-Lotto. Philippe Gilbert was beaten by some climbing specialists on theMûr-de-Bretagne and by sprinters in Cap Fréhel but the Belgian champion stillfinished second in a final that also suited André Greipel who came sixth. Asthe riders for the general classification also have to remain vigilant and tryand keep themselves out of trouble and not lose time, Jurgen van den Broeck was15th making him the third man from the squad sponsored in part bythe Belgian national lottery. They beat their counter-parts from France – FDJ,another team backed by a lottery that put three riders into the top 20: WilliamBonnet (8th), Arnold Jeannesson (13th) and Anthony Roux(19th). Depsite their gains, there was no majorchange to the team classification as Garmin-Cervélo remain in the lead with atwo-second advantage over Sky and four seconds ahead of Leopard-Trek.RadioShack is still in fourth, 10 seconds behind but they’re going to find ithard to defend their place after the retirement of an injured Janez Brajkovic.
The first Australian to wear the polka-dot jersey in the Tour de France was one of the general classification specialists to not crash in the fifth stage… but plenty of others did. Cadel Evans is grateful for the support from his team that helped him survive – and finish 11th in a stage for the sprinters.
"It was a stage on really windy narrow roads…and it was fast. In the sprint, I saw Cavendish well back with about 300 or 400meters to go and I thought he’d quit for the day. This gives us some idea ofwhat kind of finish it was: very hectic! “We worked hard all day to stay in thefront but I kept hearing over the radio ‘Crash! Crash! Crash!’ and then I sawguys like Gesink coming back to the peloton all covered in dirt. It was adangerous day I think. “Guys like [Manuel] Quinziato and particularlyBurghardt – those who are used to riding the Classics, and riding in the wind –they are used to dodging traffic islands, that’s their speciality and I’m verygrateful to have them here for that as well as their other roles in the team.”
With crashes claiming even some of the most protected riders in the peloton no one was assured of a safe ride to the finish… but the overall leader, Thor Hushovd, found himself in the lead of the stage with 300 meters to go. Still, it didn’t mean he was destined to win.
"I raced in the front to defend the jerseyand also so I didn’t have any risks and with 250 or 300 meters to go, I kind ofended up in the front and I said to myself, ‘Okay, try…’ but it was too longand I really didn’t have the legs today to do a good sprint. It was a sprintfor the strong guys and I’m impressed that Cavendish was able to get up thereand take the win. “This morning the main aim was to defend theyellow jersey and stay safe at the front of the peloton. So the team worked allday to take us to the finish and make the best of the situation. The stage wasdangerous because it was windy, I think that’s the most nervous I’ve been atthe Tour de France. “As for the sprint, it was intended to befor Tyler but at five kilometers from the finish he said he was not in greatshape and I could do my won race so I went but I went too soon and I just didn’thave the speed… I’m paying for my efforts yesterday on the Mûr-de-Bretagne.”
Now that he’s won a stage, one reporter pondered, is there a sense of relief? “No,” said Mark Cavendish, “I’ve still got more stages to win! And hopefully a green jersey.” His tally of stage victories in the Tour now stands at 16 but expect that to grow before the end of the 2011 edition…
“It was hard. It was a proper hard stage!Not just the last couple of kilometers but the last 20 kilometers but myteam-mates were incredible. They were keeping me there, they were riding hard,they were riding in the wind… and they did a great job. Even though I gotpushed back near the end, they were keeping the pace high so it was all strungout and I was able to come from behind so I’m really happy with that. It wasdifficult and I’ll need a good massage tonight but I’m really pleased. “It was a difficult finish and there were alot of other guys up there for the finale – Geraint Thomas in the white, BradWiggins, Thor Hushovd, Rojas, Gilbert… it was a difficult sprint from only asmall group. It was hard to stay at the front. I had to go 100 per cent to winthat one!“I was pushed back with a couple ofkilometers to go. André Greipel came in with his big legs and kind of knockedme, and we saw the other day that, when there’s a big guy on me, I can’t doanything. I was just behind and I thought, ‘That’s it… now I’ll just have to gofor the green jersey points.’ I just thought I’d salvage a few points but BradleyWiggins was there, Geraint Thomas was there and they just went! With a coupleof hundred meters to go I had to give it everything. I really didn’t think I’dwin but I got my acceleration – I got the jump alongside Gilbert and, really,my legs were burning… it was really hard actually. I was coming, coming, comingand I was really surprised that I won. I came from quite far back but I’mreally happy. “It was uphill man! Coming up to threekilometers to go, that was hard! That was a climb and I was on the edge of mysaddle and then it went down and it was quite technical – and we like technical– but the uphill in the final kilometers really hurt. I’ve won harder before butI’ve also been dropped on easier… so at least it’s a sign that my form is good.”
The top five of the fifth stage of the 2011 Tour de France is: 1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) THR 2. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) OLO 3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) MOV 4. Tony Gallopin (FRA) COF 5. Geraint Thomas (GBR) SKY
Cavendish was about 10th with 300 meters to go. The sprint had well and truly begun with Hushovd and Gilbert leading the charge to the line but the Max missile never surrendered. The "fastest man in the world" burst into the lead in the final 50 meters and took a fine victory ahead of Gilbert and Rojas.
Nothing could put Mark Cavendish off. He has responded to the early accelerations with panache. He has raced around Gilbert and Hushovd in the last meters of the stage to claim his 16th stage victory at the Tour de France.
Boasson Hagen has started the sprint from about 700m out. He has Feillu right on his wheel but now it’s up to Thor to lead it out for the second surge of sprinting...
The sprint has effectively begun. For now it’s the lead-out specialists Hondo and Martin ahead of the bunch as it goes under the 1km to go sign.