TDF 2012: Stage 5: Greipel Gallops into St. Quentin

German rider Andre Greipel clinched the fifth stage of the Tour de France, this time in a straight match

Andre Greipel wins stage 5 TDF 2012, man to man against Cavendish this time around (see the Cav pictured behind him in white) (Photo: ASO)

against his arch rival and former teammate, Mark Cavendish.

It was an exciting finish to a mostly flat stage where the biggest news of the day went on behind the scenes.

That news concerned allegations that several riders in this year’s Tour will be testifying against Lance Armstrong, their former teammate, in exchange for reduced penalties for alleged drug use in a legal action by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

But this time it could be said that Greipel won the sprint fair and square after yesterday’s anti-climatic win when he learned that Cavendish had fallen in a crash 2.6 km from the finish and had not competed in the final lead up to the line.

Greipel prevailed despite Sky Team’s reversal of their previous hands-off attitude for the Manx Missile, who up to this stage has been left largely on his own, unprotected, without barely a lead-out from fellow Sky Team members, the sprinting star forced to freelance for a wheel on every sprint.

In stage 5 five Sky teammates including Bernie Eisel attempted to bring Cavendish to the line. But it was not to be the Cav’s day. It seemed the die has been cast, and the lackluster performance by Team Sky to bring him to the line is a reflection less of willingness than ability.

It was also a sad day for sprinter Tyler Farrar, who crashed about 1 km from the finish, and hobbled in after the action was finished. Matt Goss who has not been able to score a first in any final sprint was also beaten by Greipel.

The break stayed out in front of the peloton for almost the entire stage, with two riders contesting at the finish in St. Quentin (ASO)

At 9. 2 Km from the finish into Saint Quentin, a four-man breakaway was still ahead by 44 seconds.

The teams began to power up to a speed of 46.8 km per hour, almost 10 km more than the average speed recorded in the middle of the stage.

Team Sky was organizing for the first time for their sprinter Mark Cavendish.  Five Sky riders were ahead of the Road World Champion, including Edvald Boasson Hagen who holds the White Jersey for most promising young rider and at several points has actually been sprinting against his teammate.

Team Lampre were also up front for Alessandro Petacchi, and BMC were keeping their General Classification leader, Cadel Evans near the front and away from last minute crashes.

Garmin Sharp’s Johan Vansummeren came to the front for his teammate Tyler Farrar who would also be making a run for the sprint finish.

At 3.4 km to go, the acceleration was coming from Lotto-Belisol for Andre Greipel. He was looking for a repeat of yesterday’s trimphant win.

A crash in the peloton at 3 km, brought down Tyler Farrar from Garmin Sharp, started by a touched shoulder. That crash put Sky Team back in control, but with two left hand turns into Saint Quentin, the groups still had not caught up with the break leaders.

One of those break riders, Belgian Cofidis’ Ghyselinck took a flyer off the front about 1 km from the finish, which

Map stage 5 TDF 2012 (ASO)

was a climb, a nail biter to see if he could make it to the finish before the peloton.

Greipel’s team was organizing behind him, but ahead, Urtasun took a flyer past the Cofidis rider, as the sprinters came up behind them.

It really seemed Pablo Urtasun, a Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, might make it in the last 100 meters, a win that would have been heroic. Urtasun was third overall in the 2012 Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

But neither Urtasun nor Cavendish, nor Matt Goss had the kick they needed as Andre Greipel lead out by Lotto-Belisol teammate Greg Henderson, powered up the hill, and finished to the line first.

Now Greipel has beaten Mark Cavendish to the line, man to man.

At the beginning this mostly flat 196.5 km stage from Rouen to St. Quentin which lies on the course of the Paris-Roubaix, promised both a breakaway and a fast sprint finish among the big teams.

After an early break by four riders, Frenchman Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Spaniard Pablo Urtasun (EUS), Frenchman Julien Simon (SAU), and Belgian Jan Ghyselinck (COF), the biggest talk of the race was who was injured, who was out, and would Mark Cavendish seek revenge for yesterday’s crash that took him out of the final sprint into Rouen 2.6 km from the finish line.

No one could forget the look on his face, which seemd to read, “Look out, I am pissed, and tomorrow I am going to seek my revenge.” In the final sprint without him, Andre Greipel was trimphant but disappointed that he did not beat the great Cav’ man to man.

Cavendish answered at least some questions about the injury to his hand which he sustained in that crash, when he sprinted at today’s intermediate point in Breteuil and handily won against Matt Goss, Mark Renshaw, Peter Sagan, and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

But there was no telling if his injury would hold up at the final sprint when the velocity of the sprint, as well as the pressure from the big teams, would be magnified by faster speeds and density.

Also out of the race due to injuries from a crash was Maarten Tjalingii of RaboBank with a broken hip, and Marcel Kittel of Germany from a stomach virus.

Thunder, lightening and rain looked like it might mar the final sprint into St. Quentin, but fortunately it stopped before the final sprint materialized.

With 50 km to go, the lead riders were 2 minutes and 15 seconds ahead of the peloton, and the advantage continued to come down.

Leading the pack were the Lotto-Belisol riders, team of Andre Greipel, and members of the Garmin Sharp Team who may have been looking for a win in St. Quentin for their sprinter Tyler Farrar.

So far we had seen little from Farrar, as he struggled to get through the mass sprints in the past three stages.

Three quarters through the stage CBS Sports announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen took a few minutes to discuss the latest news about Lance Armstrong’s imminent legal proceedings with U.S. investigators who have filed formal charges against the seven-time Tour de France winner.

Ten people have been asked to testify against Armstrong, including previous Motorola Team Manager and pal of Armstrong, Jim Ochowicz according to news reports.

Levi Leipheimer who is competing in the 2012 Tour as part of the Pharma-Lotto Team, and is rumored to be one of 10 people being required by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency to testify against Armstrong, reserved comment this morning, according to VeloNation.

“I really don’t have anything to say. All I can say is that I am here at the Tour de France, I am 100 percent focussed on this race. So far I am still in the hunt for the classification. That is all I have to say,” he told VeloNation.

“Let’s hope the truth finally comes out once and for all,” said Sherwen. See our full story on the allegations and the statements from the USADA as well as Armstrong’s legal team.

Overall General Classification Standings after Stage 5, TDF 2012 (SOURCE: ASO)

rank rider rider No. team times gap
1. SUICANCELLARA Fabian 12 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 24h 45′ 32”
2. GBRWIGGINS Bradley 101 SKY PROCYCLING 24h 45′ 39” + 00′ 07”
3. FRACHAVANEL Sylvain 192 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 24h 45′ 39” + 00′ 07”
4. USAVAN GARDEREN Tejay 9 BMC RACING TEAM 24h 45′ 42” + 00′ 10”
5. NORBOASSON HAGEN Edvald 102 SKY PROCYCLING 24h 45′ 43” + 00′ 11”
6. RUSMENCHOV Denis 131 KATUSHA TEAM 24h 45′ 45” + 00′ 13”
7. AUSEVANS Cadel 1 BMC RACING TEAM 24h 45′ 49” + 00′ 17”
8. ITANIBALI Vincenzo 51 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 24h 45′ 50” + 00′ 18”
9. CANHESJEDAL Ryder 61 GARMIN-SHARP-BARRACUDA 24h 45′ 50” + 00′ 18”
10. GERKLÖDEN Andréas 15 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 24h 45′ 51” + 00′ 19”
11. NEDMOLLEMA Bauke 153 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 24h 45′ 53” + 00′ 21”
12. BELMONFORT Maxime 16 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 24h 45′ 54” + 00′ 22”
13. SLOBRAJKOVIC Janez 181 ASTANA PRO TEAM 24h 45′ 54” + 00′ 22”
14. ESTTAARAMAE Rein 81 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 24h 45′ 54” + 00′ 22”
15. SVKSAGAN Peter 57 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 24h 45′ 55” + 00′ 23”
16. FRAPERAUD Jean-Christophe 71 AG2R LA MONDIALE 24h 45′ 55” + 00′ 23”
17. ITAMARCATO Marco 125 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 24h 45′ 55” + 00′ 23”
18. RUSGUSEV Vladimir 134 KATUSHA TEAM 24h 45′ 56” + 00′ 24”
19. ESPZUBELDIA Haimar 19 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 24h 45′ 56” + 00′ 24”
20. NEDPOELS Wouter 126 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 24h 45′ 56” + 00′ 24”
21. IRLROCHE Nicolas 79 AG2R LA MONDIALE 24h 45′ 57” + 00′ 25”
22. AUSROGERS Michael 108 SKY PROCYCLING 24h 45′ 57” + 00′ 25”
23. NEDGESINK Robert 151 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 24h 45′ 58” + 00′ 26”
24. BELVAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 111 LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 24h 46′ 00” + 00′ 28”
25. BELDEVENYNS Dries 194 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 24h 46′ 01” + 00′ 29”
26. ITABASSO Ivan 52 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 24h 46′ 01” + 00′ 29”