Stage 5 ended with a relatively straightforward field sprint today with Mark Cavendish taking a well-deserved win. It looked hairy for the HTC boys at one point as their organization seemed to fall apart, but they recovered well enough to get their man to the line first. Cavendish still looks to be a step or below last year; he seemed to fade in the final surge to the line. But a win’s a win—I’m sure Cavendish will remember this one for a long time. The question now: will he do it again?
Is Tyler Farrar back? He took part in the sprint today, finishing tenth after coming around the wrong side of Robbie Hunter’s wheel. That said, considering it was thought his Tour was over after his fall in Stage 2, tenth is better than nothing for Tyler at this point in the race. Let’s hope he and his team get it right sometime between now and Paris.
Did you see Gerard Ciolek come way up the side to finish second today? It seems like Ciolek’s been around for years, but he’s only 23! Milram hopes he can turn the acceleration we saw today into a win or two by the end of the race—and in time for the team to find a new sponsor.
It’s also time to acknowledge the fastest Spanish sprinter in the peloton, although it’s not the person you might think it is. Caisse d’Epargne’s Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil has quietly scored some top-10 results so far in this year’s Tour, good enough to put him in fourth place in the point classification and within shouting distance of the leaders.
On the other hand, Oscar Freire—the man you might have been thinking about a few seconds ago—hasn’t enjoyed much success this week and failed to score a single point in today’s stage. Que pasa, Oscar?
And finally, Edvald Boasson Hagen continued to confirm his status as future (and present?) contender for the green jersey with his second consecutive third-place finish. As I mentioned yesterday, look for EBH to score more points than the rest on several of the transitional stages, possibly putting himself in a position to challenge Thor for the title in Paris.
But when it was all said and done, Stage 5 belonged to Boy Racer, Mark Cavendish. The win gives Cavendish 50 points in the green jersey competition—still less than half the amount of the leader and defending champion, Thor Hushovd.
Let’s take a look at the “Virtual Green Jersey” Classification:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 102
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 88
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 81
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 73
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team 64
6. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 59
7. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 59
8. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 54
9. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 50
10. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram 49
11. Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin – Transitions 30
12. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Transitions 23
13. Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin – Transitions 22
14. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 19
15. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 18
One final note about yesterday: I’ve never pretended to be perfect—my opinions and commentary are simply based on my experiences and background in the sport—and I do mistakes. First of all, I failed to catch Robert Gesink’s time in the official results—as an attentive reader pointed-out, he had a mechanical in the final 3km and received the same time as the winner.
But in hindsight, I also might have been a bit hasty in criticizing David Zabriskie for his performance as well yesterday. It’s likely DZ had done some work on behalf of Robbie Hunter and Julian Dean during the final 10km and sat-up knowing his job was done for the day. Based on what I saw from the team at the end of Stage 5, I bet that’s the case.
And as always, please share your questions, comments, and insights below.