[(Wednesday 8th July 2009)]

2 Le Tour de France – STAGE FIVE
Cap D’Agde – Perpignan

3 Paul Francis reports. 3

Stage five of Le Tour de France began in Cap D’Agde. I was lucky enough to be a guest of the Gendarmerie Nationale. We left Cap D’Agde as part of the ‘Caravane publicitaire’ – hundreds of sponsors, organizers and support vehicles. The Caravane is the perfect recruitment vehicle for the Gendarmerie
Nationale, a fact that they exploit to great effect.
So many nationalities were in evidence along the route – Norwegian, Swedish, Swiss, Czech, Australian, Kiwi, Scottish, Welsh, German, Scottish, English…..so many happy flag waving happy people cheering on the riders.
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler broke early in the 196.5km stage from Le Cap D’Adge to Perpignan.
Voeckler made a dash for home with five kilometres remaining and went on to win by seven seconds.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish came third to retain the sprinters’ green jersey. Fabien Cancellara kept the leaders’ yellow jersey from Lance Armstrong.

Voeckler, made his break from the peloton with Anthony Geslin, Marcin Sapa and Fumiyuki Beppu in the opening kilometres, but Japan’s Beppu dropped back quickly.
Team Columbia, Cavendish’s team, chased down the leaders on a relatively flat stage in the south of France, where a strong crosswind played its part, and they soon whittled it down to under four minutes.
Lance Armstrong’s Astana team helped pull the peloton to within 45 seconds of the leaders with just under 40km remaining. That was as close as they got.
Ignatiev found enough energy to hold off the peloton for second, with Cavendish leading home the sprinters in third.
“I had almost ceased to believe in my chances of winning a Tour stage,” said Voeckler.
“I went in the finale because I was not the best sprinter in the break and 300 metres from the line I realised that was it. I was helped by the wind, I would never have succeeded otherwise.”
Race leader Cancellara finished in the main pack with Armstrong and retained his yellow jersey, while Cavendish stays in green.
Thursday’s stage travels south to Spain for the southernmost stage in Tour history – a 181.5km ride from Gerona to Barcelona.

3 Stage Five results: 3

1. Thomas Voeckler (France/BBO) 4 hours 29 minutes 35 seconds
2. Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia/Katusha) + 7 secs
3. Mark Cavendish (GB/ Team Columbia) same time
4. Tyler Farrar (USA/Garmin)
5. Gerald Ciolek (Ger/Team Milram)
6. Danilo Napolitano (It/Katusha)
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Caisse D’Epargne)
8. Lloyd Mondory (Fra/AG2R)
9. Oscar Freire (Spa/Rabobank)
10. Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo)

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