Cavendish storms to stage victory

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish celebrates his 16th stage win in the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish won the fifth stage of the Tour de France on a day marred by crashes to the likes of Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins.

Cavendish powered to the front in a frantic sprint finish to come home ahead of Philippe Gilbert and Jose Joaquin Rojas.

Norway’s Thor Hushovd was 10th and retains the yellow jersey.

RadioShack leader Janez Brajkovic was forced to retire while Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas finished fifth.

Cavendish, who won five stages in 2010, came around the outside of the pack after HTC-Highroad team-mate Tony Martin led into the final straight.

The Manxman timed his charge to the line with absolute perfection to take his 16th stage victory in the Tour.

“It was proper hard, my legs were going at the end,” said Cavendish. “I am really happy with that.”

Tristan Valentin, Sebastien Turgot, Anthony Delaplace and Jose Ivan Gutierrez made the initial break, the quartet leading by almost six minutes at one point.

Turgot claimed the intermediate sprint, with Valentin second, although Cavendish raised his arm in protest after being squeezed out of contention near the line.

And with around 100km to go of the 164.5km stage from Carhaix to Cap Frehel there were a string of crashes.

Team Sky rider Wiggins was one of the first to suffer but was able to continue after a change of bike.

Soon after, Brajkovic was involved in a big crash when he slipped on a white line on the roadside.

Brajkovic lay still on the ground before being attended to and although he was able to stand up, he was taken to hospital with his team later saying that he should withdraw from the event.

“It’s a hard day but there’s nothing you can do,” said RadioShack team director Alain Galopin. “It’s the Tour de France, it’s a lottery. Almost everybody crashed. We were hoping to have four leaders in the Pyrenees and there will be only three.”

Defending Tour champion Alberto Contador also took a tumble on the tight roads in Brittany, with the Spaniard also requiring a bike change.

Nicki Sorensen, Contador’s team-mate, was then pulled down when his handlebars became entangled in a photographer’s motorbike, although he was able to continue.

At the front, the quartet were caught with 45m to go, although Thomas Voeckler and Jeremy Roy attacked with 32km remaining.

The duo managed to carve out a one-minute lead but they were hunted down, Voeckler’s lead being extinguished 1.7km from home.

Gilbert was one of the riders who charged for the line but it was Cavendish who prevailed, coming off the wheel of Thomas to secure victory.

Stage 5 result:

1. Mark Cavendish (Isle of Man/HTC – Highroad) 3hrs 38mins 32secs

2. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium / Omega Pharma – Lotto) same time

3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain / Movistar)

4. Tony Gallopin (France / Cofidis)

5. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky)

6. Andre Greipel (Germany / Omega Pharma – Lotto)

7. Sebastien Hinault (France / AG2R)

8. William Bonnet (France / FDJ)

9. Daniel Oss (Italy / Liquigas)

10. Thor Hushovd (Norway / Garmin)

Overall standings:

1. Thor Hushovd (Norway / Garmin) 17hrs 36mins 57secs

2. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) +1″

3. Fraenk Schleck (Luxembourg / Leopard) +4″

4. David Millar (Britain / Garmin) +8″

5. Andreas Kloeden (Germany / RadioShack) +10″

6. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky)

7. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky) +12″

8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway / Team Sky)

9. Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark / Leopard)

10. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg / Leopard)

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