By Michael Zellman
Our man from SRAM has great access and great stories. Here's his Stage 5 report.
Tour De France / General Classification after Stage 5
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
2. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
4. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
For the first time at the 2009 Tour De France, a breakaway stayed away until the finish of the stage where former Maillot Jaune (10 days in 2004) and Best Young Rider (2004) Thomas Voeckler took his first career win at the Tour De France. Today was 16th stage win in Tour history for a French rider in Perpignan, the first French stage and a special 48th birthday present for his BBox team director Jean-Rene Bernadeau. "I didn't want to tell people I was looking for a stage win at this Tour because I thought I might jinx it. When we got away, I kept telling myself 'we'll stay away, we'll stay away' and it happened. I'm really, really happy to win."
Wednesday's Stage 5, a 196.5km race from Le Cap d'Agde to Perpignan started under sunny skies and as on Tuesday, a strong west Tramontane wind blowing across the course down from the Pyrénées Mountains. From the small coastal resort town of Le Cap d'Agde, Stage 5 headed west through Beziers, which hosts the famous Feria de Béziers bullfighting festival each August. The Romans refounded the city as a new colony for was veterans in 35BC, calling it Colonia Julia Baeterrae Septimanorum. From there, the stage headed south across the back country of the Languedoc region. Stage 5 finished in Perpignan, the largest city in southeastern France, with a population of 300,000. Capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales department, Perpignan was once the capital of the former province and county of Roussillon (Rosselló in Catalan), and continental capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Today's Stage 5 was characterized by a break of 6 riders who got away
after 12km and included Geslin & Hutarovich (FdJ), Sapa (Lampre),
Voeckler (Bbox), Ignatiev (Katusha) and Timmer (Skil-Shimano). This six
rider group had gained a nine minute lead after 47km, but this got to
be too much for the group Maillot Jaune, which began to chase. With
55km to go, the strong Tramontane wind caused the peloton to split and
put pressure on some favorites to chase back to the front of the race.
Eventually the peloton came back together but it wasn't able to chase
Voeckler down after a break of 184km. 7 short seconds after Voeckler's
win, the group Maillot Jaune sprinted home with Ignatiev getting second
just ahead of Maillot Vert Mark Cavendish who was 3rd.