Stage 5 Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille 228.5km
The missile hits home..
Now that the TTT is out the way (thank god) we can get back down to some real racing. Not to say we don’t love a good time trial, they are a vital component of a stage race, it’s just that they don’t make for the best TV viewing. We would prefer to see highlight packages of Ullrich or Jalabert or even Ullrich again over watching a TTT.
Stage 5 was always going to be a cracker. A rolling parcours with the Côte des Bastides and uncategorised Col de la Gineste only 13km from the finish were always going to provide some excitement for the day.
At the start line poor Ted King, after being dropped during the first km of yesterday’s TTT lost time on his team and was classified outside of the time limit for stage 4. Despite this being only 7 seconds, King was told that, “non”, he couldn’t start the stage. C’est La Vie.
The theme of the evening was Carlton Kirby on Marseille: “Destination Marseille….not the prettiest place on the planet, let’s just leave it at that.”
In keeping with the format of this year’s Tour the break went, yes you guessed it, from the start. De Gendt initiated the movement and soon enough the UN of cycling was formed up the road with Arashiro, Reza, Sicard, Delaplace and Lutsenko joining him.
The gap increased dramatically early and soon it was sitting above 10 minutes. De Gendt stamped his authority on the break by fighting wildly for every point available for the stage, KOM or Sprint.
Back in the laughing gear poor old Bouhanni must have had a dodgy Coq au Vin the night before and was struggling with a gut ache which surely has to be the worst thing on a bike. Especially at the Tour. In a club race you just duck behind the nearest tree and bang you are done. At the Tour it would be up on Twitter in no time.
Speaking of things going directly up on twitter, here’s a fan collecting the ticket of another fan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dxfdlm4owss
There were a number of incidents along the way that need to be mentioned. Klodibear took a tumble after mixing handlebars with teammate Zubeldia with about 77km to go. Rest assured that we have been in contact with Bakelants who was not nervous for his friends Klodibear or Jensie, but rather concerned about the state of the bitumen and for poor delicate Zubeldia who risks the wrath of Bakelants for doing a ztooopid by making Klodibear crash.
With 50km to go, De Gendt, who obviously still had ants in his pants, began to up the pace and lost Sicard and Delaplace and hence a couple of bodies to help roll turns till the end. In the group the main sprinters teams were beginning to surge to the front with angry legs and a slow stage pace leading to optimism and hope for a win.
At 20km to go the gap was dropping fast. This seemed to motivate Reza to go at it alone which surely has to be Big Mistake number 1 in a break. OK fine if you have been carrying the break the whole way, but maybe its not a great idea to attack a bloke like De Gendt who obviously had good legs.
This only saw the gap drop even faster and even a crash in the group couldn’t stop the slow death of the break appearing before our eyes. But Lutsenko didn’t think so and with 12km to go he attacked and Reza bridged across with some ease.
Once the group hit the top of the climb Quickstep were all over the front with Chavanel driving the pace LIKE A BOSS. And wasn’t it a beautiful descent into Marseilles. Carlton Kirby on Marseille: “Like Birmingham only hotter”.
With 4km to go it was all back together and for really the first time this Tour we had a bonafide full out drag race for the finish. Quickstep, Cannondale and Lotto all spent time at the front (and Euskatel for some reason…) but when it mattered, 400m from the finish, big Geerty Steegmans just opened up the throttle with Cavendish on his wheel. They quickly got a gap on Higgs Boasson Hagen and then it was basically good night nurse. Greipel had been sniffing around CERN’s wheel and Sagan had opened it up wide. Both had no chance once Cavendish lit the afterburners.
Of course a group kick in the first week of the Tour wouldn’t be complete without a massive crash in the final 3km. Once the stage was over there were people piled up near the final turn. It seems all is good at the time of reporting though poor old Rolland had come down again after crashing with 20 odd km to go as well.