Mark Cavendish lived up to his promise to be the fastest sprinter at the Tour de France by winning the longest stage of the race last night.
Cavendish sprints to first win
CHAREAUROUX // The British rider Mark Cavendish lived up to his promise to be the fastest sprinter at the Tour de France by winning the longest stage of the race last night. Cavendish's Columbia team-mates worked tirelessly to reel in an all-French breakaway of Lilian Jegou, Nicolas Vogondy and Florent Brard on stage five. That trio were allowed to lead by up to eight-and-a-half minutes, but were finally swallowed up in the dying metres of the 232km stage.
As the race headed into Chateauroux, the sprinters jostled for position, but Cavendish had the positioning and power in his legs despite the energy-sapping heat to edge the win ahead of Spain's Oscar Freire. The peloton all finished in the same time, leaving Germany's Stefan Schumacher still with a 12-second overall lead. However, the Tour lost another rider as last year's King of the Mountains, Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez, pulled out after a crash compounded a fractured wrist sustained on day one. There were also concerns over Alejandro Valverde, who was caught up in two crashes on the stage and, although he finished in the peloton, he was seen consulting the Tour doctor. Today, the Tour heads into the mountains with the 195.5km stage from Aigurande to Super-Besse, which ends on a category-two climb, which ought to see a shake-up in the classification.