Cavendish Takes Stage 5 of 2008 Tour de France
Matt Cavendish (Columbia) has won Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2008. Cavendish took a bunch sprint to win the flat, 232-kilometer run from Cholet to Chateauroux in 5:27:52. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) outsprinted Erik Zabel (Milram) for second. Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) remains the maillot jaune.
During the neutralized portion of the stage, Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) crashed for the second time in this year's Tour. Soler had crashed in Stage 1 and had soldiered on with a suspected broken hand. After 12 km, last year's King of the Mountains decided that he had suffered enough for one Tour and abandoned. Shortly before Soler abandoned, Lilian Jegou (Francaise des Jeux), Florent Brard (Cofidis), and French champion Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) set out on the escape of the day.
At 33.5 kilometers, the break led the bunch by 8:15. Gerolsteiner began to ride tempo in support of maillot jaune Schumacher. The fugitives' advantage fell to 7:40 and to 6:00 at 107 kilometers. At 85 kilometers, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) crashed and required medical attention but rejoined the peloton.
The gap between the escapees and the bunch continued to fall. Credit Agricole joined Gerolsteiner at the front, and the fugitives' lead was 3:00 with fewer than 70 kilometers remaining. With 45 kilometers left, it was under 2:00, and with 25 kilometers remaining, the lead was 1:30. At this point, Columbia, Credit Agricole, Liquigas, and Gerolsteiner led the pursuit.
With 20 kilometers remaining, the bunch was within 1:12 of the break, and with five kilometers left, 0:23 separated bunch and break. With 1.5 kilometers left and the peloton closing fast, Vogondy attacked.
For a time, Vogondy looked like a winner. With 300 meters to go, Vogondy still led. Columbia had taken over the chase on behalf of Cavendish. With 250 meters left, Cavendish saw Mark Renshaw and Thor Hushovd (both from Credit Agricole) drawing alongside of him. The British wunderkind bolted into the lead and held on for the win.
In the overall, Schumacher leads Kim Kirchen (Columbia) and David Millar (Garmin), respectively, by 0:12. Stage 6 might change the standings. The 195.5-km ride from Aigurande to Super-Besse will feature four Category 4 ascents and two Category 2 climbs, including the finishing climb. Will Schumacher keep the yellow jersey? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!