Marseille, France. July 3, 2013. By Jen Benepe
Mark Cavendish handily won the sprint into Marseille today, wiping out all doubts as to whom is the fastest man in the world in a man-to-man competition.
Despite missing some of his lead-out train, and having to compete with a number of the big team lead outs, especially that of Andre Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol team, in the last 500 meters no one could match the Manx Missile.
Cavendish’s speed surpassed that of all the sprinters in the final meters, including Peter Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen of the Sky Team, and Lampre’s Roberto Ferrari.
It was his first win in the 2013 Tour de France, and the relief was visible on his face: his bronchitis is gone, and he now has an impressive 24 Tour stage wins in his career, a record bettered only by Eddy Merckx who holds 34 Tour stage victories.
Simon Gerrans who came into Marseille with the peloton time will retain his Yellow Jersey. His teammates Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini are also still in second and third position.
Today’s flat stage along the Mediterranean was sure to be a fast one interspersed by breakaways, almost always leading to unexpected results. Still, most of the experts predicted a mass sprint finish despite a breakaway of 6 men that started early on and lasted more than 66 percent of the race.
The 228.5 km stage suffered only category 3 (one) and 4 (three in all) climbs. Six men attacked at the start, and they were 25 seconds ahead of the peloton after two kilometres of racing; Romain Sicard (EUS), Yukiya Arashiro and Kevin Reza (EUC), Alexey Lutsenko (AST), Thomas De Gendt (VCD), and Anthony Delaplace (SOJ).
Baring any unforeseen circumstances–such as a crash or other event-none of the break riders were a major threat to the Yellow Jersey with Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro of Europcar standing the most to benefit at 3 minutes 42 seconds behind the leader Gerrans, and standing 74th overall.
Arashiro is the Japanese National Champion.
Lutsenko is the second youngest rider in the Tour this year is the reigning under-23 World Champion; Danny van Poppel who won the White Jersey after stage 1, is the youngest rider.
After 23 minutes of racing the break was more than 5 minutes ahead of the peloton making Arashiro the virtual leader at the time.
Then at the 23 km mark, after only 45 minutes of racing, the break was ahead by 11 minutes and 30 seconds, and that gap continued to grow dangerously.
At the 37 km mark, the peloton was 12 minutes 45 seconds behind Arashiro’s escape group. The Japanese rider was the first from his
country to finish the Tour de France (in 2009, when he was 129th overall): could he pull this off? No matter, he was the virtual leader for now.
Speaking to reporters from the Orica GreenEdge team car, their directeur sportif Neil Stephens wasn’t too concerned about the break gaining an early advantage of over 12 minutes. “It’s almost a 230km stage, remember,” said Stephens. “There’s no need to get too excited and start chasing the break early.”
“We’ve got to be cool and calm and ride a smart race,” he added.
At the intermediate sprint in Lorgues, 102.5 km from the start, the race leaders were the first to come through with Thomas De Gendt gaining 20 points, Lutsenko (AST) 17 pts, Delaplace (SOJ) 15 pts, Arashiro (EUC) 13 pts, Sicard (EUS) 11 pts and Reza (EUC) 10 pts.
With the time gap narrowing, and now 9 minutes 35 seconds behind them, Andre Greipel took first at the field sprint, gaining 9 points , followed by Alexander Kristoff (KAT) 8 pts, Peter Sagan (CAN) 7 pts, and Mark Cavendish (OPQ) 6 pts. Sagan cut off Cavendish at the finish and apologized, foretelling gist for a real fight at today’s finish.
In the third hour of racing, the average speed of the peloton picked up from 39.5 km per hour, to 41.5 km per hour, and the break’s advantage starting dwindling, now down to 9 minutes an 8 seconds.
There was another 100 km to go, enough by most accounts to rein the break in, especially according to Orica GreenEdge directeur sportif, Stephens who predicted the break would be caught at 37 km to the finish.
As the riders approached the third categorized climb at the cote de la Roquebrussanne 154 km into the race, a category-4 hill that is 3.5 km long (with an average gradient of 4.2 per cent) the break was 7 minutes 50 seconds ahead of the peloton.
The peloton was going slowly enough to allow Richie Porte of Team Sky and Andreas Kloden of Team RadioShack who had to switch bikes because of a mechanical to easily rejoin the gruppo.
The peloton’s speed now increased to 42.9 km per hour, and ahead, one of the break riders Sicard had a puncture. He raced to rejoin the lead group.
Sky rider Thomas Geraint , two-time gold medal winner in the Olympic Track team pursuit, and 2010 British National Road Champion who has been suffering from a fracture to his pelvis lost contact with the peloton and raced back behind the team car to get back in. Geraint’s injury came from the pile-up in Stage 1 in Corsica.
At about 180 km into the race, De Gendt (VCD), Arashiro (EUC) and Lutsenko (AST) distanced themselves from Reza, Sicard and Delaplace by 10 seconds.
Reza rose to the challenge and rejoined them, but now the lead group was ahead of the peloton by only 5 minutes and 50 seconds, down from the maximum lead they had achieved at the 37 km mark of 12 minutes 45 seconds.
At 187 km the gap to the peloton was 5 minutes 23 seconds.
At 30 km to the finish, the gap had narrowed to 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
Behind them, the big sprint teams took turns at the front of the peloton to bring the gap down. Romain Sicard who had been dropped from the lead group at 53 km to go, had now been dropped by the peloton as well.
Lining up behind Mark Cavendish, “the fastest man on earth,” in the peloton was Simon Gerrans. He would have to stay close to the sprinters to keep the Yellow Jersey today.
With 20 km to go, Mattie Goss the sprinter for Orica GreenEdge was dropped from the peloton, spoiling his chances for a sprint finish. The gap to the leaders had now narrowed to 1 minute and 37 seconds. The writing was on the wall for catching the break.
Team Sky came to the front of the peloton for their rider Chris Froome who will be aiming for the overall General Classification when the Tour reaches the Alps, when suddenly there was a crash near the front of the field, taking down a number of riders, among them Christian Vande Velde, Pierre Rolland, Marcel Kittel, and Jerome Pineau, as well as several riders from the Astana team.
Ahead in the break Arashiro tried to get ahead of the break, but got reeled in quickly. Arashiro and DeGendt were caught, while Lutshenko and Reza had a lead of 17 seconds. As the peloton steamed behind him, the 20-year-old Lutshenko held on in a major show of defiance, just inside of 5 km to go.
The sprinters then took over with the trains picking up the pace for the finish. Traveling at 37 km per hour, Vanconsoleil moved to the front hoping to get their sprinter Danny van Poppel to the line.
At 2 km to go, Sylvain Chavanel came to the front. Cavendish was placed close to the front, while Lotto-Belisol pushed to the front for their sprinter Andre Greipel. Peter Sagan was tucked into third or fourth position.
With 1 km to go, all of the big sprinters were still near the front. Cavendish’s team, Omega Pharma Quickstep lined up for the sweeping left hand turn, then it was the Manx Missile, who won it handily, a huge smile on his face.
Behind them a crash took down a good part of the field.
Overall individual time classification
Total distance covered: 228.5 KM
|1.||GBRCAVENDISH Mark||151||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||05h 31′ 51”|
|2.||NORBOASSON HAGEN Edvald||2||SKY PROCYCLING||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|3.||SVKSAGAN Peter||11||CANNONDALE||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|4.||GERGREIPEL André||24||LOTTO-BELISOL||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|5.||ITAFERRARI Roberto||145||LAMPRE – MERIDA||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|6.||NORKRISTOFF Alexander||103||KATUSHA TEAM||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|7.||ESPLOBATO DEL VALLE Juan José||115||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|8.||LTUNAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas||177||GARMIN – SHARP||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|9.||FRALEMOINE Cyril||215||SOJASUN||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|10.||ESPROJAS José Joaquin||129||MOVISTAR TEAM||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|11.||FRADUMOULIN Samuel||84||AG2R LA MONDIALE||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|12.||GERDEGENKOLB John||191||TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
|13.||ITATRENTIN Matteo||158||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||05h 31′ 51”||+ 00′ 00”|
OVERALL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION at the end of Stage 5, Tour de France 2013