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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003

Main Page    Stage Profile    Start List    Latest live report    Results

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney, Chris Henry, and Gabriella Ekström

Stage 5 - Thursday, July 10: Troyes - Nevers, 196.5 km

Complete Live Report

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 12:35 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:16 CEST

11:41 CEST    
Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of stage 5 of the Tour, brought to you in association with T-Mobile. After yesterday's short but fast team time trial, today we're back to our scheduled programming during the first week of the Tour, i.e. a fairly flat sprinters' stage. Starting in the Champagne city of Troyes, this transitional stage traverses the quiet farm roads of Yonne and Nievre to arrive in Nevers, home of bike makers Look and Time.

There are a couple of category 4 climbs on offer today, the first being the Côte de Tonnerre at km 57 and the second being the Côte de Rennebourg at km 136. There are the usual three intermediate time bonus sprints (first three riders get 6, 4 and 2 seconds bonus). The first is at Nitry (km 79.5), the second at Bailly (km 131) and the third at Bazolles (km 154).

The intermediate sprints will not be as important for the yellow jersey now, after the top sprinters lost too much time in yesterday's team time trial to be a threat. However they are important for that green jersey classification, which is currently led by Robbie McEwen.

The race leader is Colombian Victor Hugo Pena, who by virtue of his great prologue ride is ahead of team captain Lance Armstrong on GC by one second. There are six more US Postal riders occupying the first eight spots on GC, as a result of their performance in yesterday's TTT.

Whether US Postal will defend the jersey is another question - it only counts if you have yellow in Paris, so they may not want to expend too much energy for the sake of some kudos, despite the effect on team morale. We'll see.

12:38 CEST    
Fueling up on water
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
After a short neutral section out of Troyes, the riders are off and racing for the fifth stage. Weather conditions are reported to be warm and sunny again, with temperatures around the 30 degree mark. With nearly five hours of racing in front of them, the riders are going to be drinking as much water as possible, especially in the middle part of the stage before the tempo increases for the finale.

12:49 CEST    8 km/188.5 km to go
Stephane Auge (Credit Agricole) has launched the first attack, after a little more than 5 km of racing. It goes nowhere.

Today there is a very happy Victor Hugo Pena in the bunch - not only is he in the yellow jersey, but he also turned 29 today. Happy birthday Victor! He was presented with his weight in champagne at the start, so hopefully he has saved a bit for later.

12:58 CEST    18 km/178.5 km to go
A group of 14 riders have escaped, and have a 35" lead to the peloton. The group contains Roberto Heras (USPS), Angel Vicioso (ONCE), Nicolas Jalabert (CSC), Frederic Finot (Jean Delatour) and Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) among others.

13:09 CEST    28 km/168.5 km to go
The full composition of the break is as follows:

Roberto Heras (US Postal-Berry Floor)
Angel Vicioso (ONCE-Eroski)
Xabier Zandio (iBanesto.com)
Robert Hunter (Rabobank)
Nicolas Jalabert (Team CSC)
Ignacio Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca)
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole)
Christophe Oriol (Ag2R Prevoyance)
Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance)
Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangere)
Damien Nazon (Brioches La Boulangere)
Frédéric Finot (Jean Delatour)

They have a 20" gap to the peloton, which is obviously keen to get them back. Heras is the best placed man on GC in the break, but there are also danger men like Bettini and Voigt in there. Paolo Bettini told Cyclingnews this morning that, "There's a big risk of an attack because we're coming to the Alps soon and there are lots of teams who would like to give it a last try before US Postal gets too firm a grip on the race."

13:17 CEST    34 km/162.5 km to go
Most of the 14 man break has now been caught, but there are still five riders out in front with 37" to the peloton:

Nicolas Jalabert (Team CSC)
Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole)
Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance)
Frédéric Finot (Jean Delatour)

Jens Voigt told Cyclingnews today that "A stage like this will always be a fight between the sprinters and those who want to go in a break of course. We have two good sprinters in the team but the rest of us are going for the break. And I'll get into one if I can."

13:27 CEST    39.5 km/157 km to go
The leading five have now covered 40 km, and are sitting 1'10 in front of the peloton. Of the break, Bodrogi is the best placed on GC, 1'30 behind Pena in 26th position. Both Voigt and Jalabert are also within 2 minutes, while Finot and Turpin are at 6'15 and 9'08 respectively.

13:37 CEST    47 km/149.5 km to go
Around 48.5 km have been covered in the first hour, which is fast but not unusual for the start of a Tour stage. Currently we have a break of five riders out in front: Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Nicolas Jalabert (Team CSC), Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance) and Frédéric Finot (Jean Delatour).

They are holding a still slim 1'20 lead over the peloton, which seems reluctant to let them ride into the distance. Although the sprinters teams may not be concerned yet, there are other teams who want to get riders in the break.

13:55 CEST    60 km/136.5 km to go
pedal stroke by pedal stroke, second by second, this break of five riders is starting to edge away from the peloton. They've covered 60 km at around 49 km/h, so obviously they found some rhythm in yesterday's team time trial.

On the Cat. 4 Cote de Tonnerre, Frederic Finot took the points ahead of Laszlo Bodrogi and Nicolas Jalabert. That will put Finot on 13 points, just 2 shy of polka dotted jersey wearer Christophe Mengin. If this break stays away, then Finot could well take over the spotty jersey.

The current gap to the peloton is 2'00.

14:13 CEST    76 km/120.5 km to go
Tyler Hamilton
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
The five leaders, Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Nicolas Jalabert (Team CSC), Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance) and Frédéric Finot (Jean Delatour), are approaching the second sprint in Nitry, with a 2'15 lead to the peloton, which hasn't relaxed its pace much. The average speed of the race is still very high, in the upper 40's.

An update for Tyler Hamilton watchers: Yes he started today, after having a very good ride yesterday (he was one of the strongest in the team). However he'll get some more X-Rays on his cracked collarbone before making the decision to continue.

14:19 CEST    81 km/115.5 km to go
Bodrogi wins the sprint in Nitry, followed by Voigt and Jalabert. The five are loooking comfortable but are working hard. Voigt and Bodrogi are the big drivers, but Finot and Jalabert are pretty handy to have in a break too.
In the peloton, Fassa Bortolo, Rabobank and Lotto-Domo have put a few men in front, with US Postal sitting right behind them. Victor Pena is about 10 riders back, a couple of places behind Armstrong.

The last time check was 2'35.

14:36 CEST    93 km/103.5 km to go
The peloton is not going to take it easy it seems, and is flying along led a few men from Lotto-Domo, Fassa Bortolo and Rabobank. They're keeping the five leaders pegged at 2'36, which is an easy gap to close in the last part of the stage. But there's still a long way to go, and things can change.

The riders have nearly covered half the distance, and are on track to finish at about 4:45pm.
Crash man Haselbacher
Photo: © C.Henry/CN

Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner) drops to the back of the peloton to get his bandages seen to by the race doctor. He is hoping for more success in today's stage, if it comes to a bunch sprint.

Tyler Hamilton is also getting some attention to his collarbone strapping by the race doctor Gerard Porte. He is doing well, holding onto the car while undressing and getting tape ripped off his chest. ow.

14:54 CEST    108 km/88.5 km to go
The five leaders, are starting to feel the effort of their escape, which has given them a 3'06 lead over the peloton. All of them are still rolling through for their turns, at a constant 48 km/h average under these warm 30 degree conditions.

The peloton is riding a controlling race at the moment, with Lotto, FDJ, and Fassa Bortolo on the front. Next in line are US Postal, with Victor Pena sitting well back in the train.

Cyclingnews spoke to Fassa's Alessandro Petacchi and Giancarlo Feretti today. "Of course we'll try and set it up for a sprint today. But it's a very undulating stage and there's a big risk that a break will go. It's a really hard stage to predict."

15:04 CEST    117 km/79 km to go
The peloton has picked up its speed, or (more likely) the break is just starting to lose momentum. The time gap between Bodrogi and co. is now 2'15.

Lance Armstrong is interviewed on the bike by French TV, and says a rather nervous "bonjour" as he cruises along at 50 km/h.

Tyler Hamilton is back in the middle of the bunch, having gotten strapped up again by the good Dr. Porte.

15:15 CEST    123 km/73.5 km to go
Christophe Brandt (Lotto), Sven Montgomery and Marzio Bruseghin (Fassa Bortolo), David Bramati (Quick.Step) are doing the work at the front of the peloton, acting as the first wind break for the rest of the riders.

To give you an idea of how much energy you save by sitting on a wheel, it takes around 60 percent of your power to sit behind someone compared to riding in front. In a peloton, that effect is magnified - it's like riding in a cocoon, and even high speeds can require very little effort. A study by a Rabobank team doctor showed the average power output of a rider during a flat stage, where he finished in the bunch: it was only 98 Watts(!), which is at the very low end of a recovery ride. It's probably atypical of a Tour stage though.

By comparison, once the road goes uphill, the effect from sitting on is greatly diminished. On a climb like Alpe d'Huez for example, Lance Armstrong can put out around 450+ watts for the 40 minutes of the climb.

15:24 CEST    133 km/63.5 km to go
The break has just reached the sprint in Bailly, where Bodrogi took the points and the time bonus uncontested. Second was Jens Voigt, followed by Ludovic Turpin, who is starting to suffer whenever the road goes uphill.

The peloton is still rolling along led by Fassa, Lotto and FDJ. US Postal and race leader Victor Pena are 10-15 riders back.

15:29 CEST    136 km/60 km to go
The leaders are on the Cat. 4 climb of Côte de Rennebourg, which is not too difficult, averaging around 4 percent. Finot sprints for the points, which means he'll take the mountains jersey from Christophe Mengin. Second over the top was Voigt, followed by Bodrogi. Turpin sat on the back all the way up, but is still there.

The peloton is getting closer all the time however. Christophe Brandt (Lotto) leads them over, with Bruseghin on his wheel.

15:43 CEST    145 km/51.5 km to go
The race situation continues, with Bodrogi, Voigt, Turpin, Finot, and Jalabert in a five man break in front of the peloton, having attacked after 10 km. But they never got out to a comfortable lead - just over 3 minutes was the most they were allowed by the vigilant sprinters teams.

Now it's down to 1'30 with 50 km to go. The idea is to catch the break with about 10-20 km to go, to prevent counter attacks. If they are caught early, it's harder for the sprinters teams to maintain the pace to prevent counters, as many riders in the bunch have had an easy ride up until that point.

Today that might be the case - if the gap gets low enough, then some of the more frisky riders might want to have a go at splitting the race open.

15:47 CEST    
Romans Vainsteins
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Vini Caldirola sprinter Romans Vainsteins came close to winning the other day, but was beaten by an excellent Petacchi. "I will try to win today but only if it comes down to a sprint of course," Vainsteins told Cyclingnews. "It's a difficult stage because it depends on what the other teams, like US Postal, will do. Whether they will try and control it or not."

15:54 CEST    154.5 km/42 km to go
The five leaders are at the third and final intermediate sprint at Bazolles, with Bodrogi taking another 6" in front of Jalabert and Voigt. He's collected 18" today, which will move him up a few spots on GC.

The gap to the peloton is still coming down, and it's now around a minute. Brandt and Verbrugghe are working for Lotto-Domo, there's a Rabobank and an FDJ rider there too, as well as the Fassa boys.

FDJeux's Baden Cooke told Cyclingnews this morning that "Lots of teams want to ride today. Lotto-Domo hasn't had a win yet. Fassa Bortolo had a few wins but they're still going to ride. When I got caught up in the sprints the other day I lost my position in contest for the green jersey. Today, as long as we don't have a rider in the break, they will try and set it up for me, because I'm still feeling good."

16:02 CEST    160 km/36.5 km to go
Spraying the road
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Interesting - the gap between the peloton and the leaders closed down to 43", but then the peloton decided to slow its pace. It's still a little early to reel them back in - 15 km to go is better. No-one looks to be counter-attacking though, even though this would be an ideal moment.

A lot of riders are more concerned with getting water from the team cars. It's critical to keep those fluids up today, as it's well over 30 degrees now. They're even spraying the roads in some places to cool them down!

16:09 CEST    
Stuart O'Grady drops back to chat with a teammate. He's been a little off the boil so far in this Tour, and will need some good results to get back in contention for green. "Today will be when the big break will go because there are so many teams who are tired from yesterday's stage," he predicted beforehand. "We will try and place someone in a break, maybe me because my sprinting hasn't been 100 percent yet."

Jens Voigt is Credit Agricole's man in the break, that looks doomed of course. It must be hard sitting 1'00 in front of the bunch, knowing that they're not riding flat out behind you.

16:15 CEST    168.5 km/28 km to go
There is more speed in the peloton now, as they decide to hunt down this break once and for all. The pace hasn't been as high for the last couple of hours, but we're still heading for a 4:50pm finish. Or thereabouts.

The peloton can see the break getting closer on one of these long, steady drags that have characterised this stage. Rik Verbrugghe is doing some work for Lotto, while Fassa's Bruseghin continues his toil in front too. Vini Caldirola have got a few riders in the lead too.

16:17 CEST    171.5 km/25 km to go
Robbie McEwen
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
As they go under 25 km to go, the gap falls to under 25". This break really never had a chance, due to the high speed early on and the desire of the sprinters teams.

Frederic Finot (Jean Delatour) has attacked the break, as he did the other day. He is trying to pull off the impossible, although he had a good try in stage 2.

It might be a day for Robbie McEwen today. "Petacchi is beatable. I'm just going to have to be faster!" he told Cyclingnews this morning.

16:22 CEST    176.5 km/20 km to go
Finot doesn't last long - it's been a pretty tough day for him in the heat. The peloton swallows him up with 20 km to go.

16:24 CEST    178.5 km/18 km to go
Paolo Bettini attacks on a small hill, taking Vinokourov (Telekom) and Sebastien Hinault (CA) with him. The three immediately get a gap - nice move.

Bettini drives the break out to a 15" lead. That's the danger of catching the early break too early. Fassa Bortolo and Vini Caldirola are now at the front, but will have to work hard with three strong riders out in front.

US Postal are still close to the front, as they have been all day with Victor Pena in yellow. He should keep his jersey tonight.

16:29 CEST    181.5 km/15 km to go
Marco Milesi steps on the gas in the peloton for Vini Caldirola, bringing the gap back to 12" under the 15 km to go banner. Hinault, Bettini and Vinokourov are working to keep in front. Vino and Bettini are great riders for this sort of late move.

16:30 CEST    184.5 km/12 km to go
Bettini does a big turn on a long uphill drag. Hinault rolls over, then Vinokourov. Bettini wants this break to succeed, but keeps looking back. Yes, the peloton is still there.

Axel Merckx and Leon van Bon get to the front for Lotto-Domo. They haven't done too much yet, so will be invaluable in this chase.

Jimmy Casper (FDJ) has been dropped. At least he's not riding with a neck brace today.

16:33 CEST    186.5 km/10 km to go
Bettini and co. are caught, and immediately there is a counter by a Brioches la Boulangere rider - Jerome Pineau.

Erik Zabel's Telekom men are now near the front.

16:35 CEST    188.5 km/8 km to go
Jerome Pineau puts his head down and tries to make this solo break work in the final 10 km. He faces a tough task, as there are about five or six teams with a vested interest in a bunch sprint. He has 7" lead.

16:37 CEST    
Pineau is riding strongly, but there's Rabobank, Vini Caldirola, and Telekom jerseys riding hard in the peloton. Erik Zabel is very well placed near the front. The roads are quite wide, so the chances of crashing are reduced slightly...

16:39 CEST    191.5 km/5 km to go
Pineau is doing well, powering along to a 14" lead. The FDJeux boys are now in front of the peloton, picking up the speed.

16:40 CEST    192.5 km/4 km to go
The peloton is motoring now, and Pineau is coming back. It's now down to 6" and falling. But Pineau is not giving up.

16:41 CEST    193.5 km/3 km to go
It's over for Pineau with 3.5 km to go. Now FDJeux has put its men on the front, with Fassa right behind. Ullrich is also close to the front.

16:43 CEST    194.5 km/2 km to go
No team can control the pace for long - only two or three men at a time. 2 km to go, and Fassa and FDJeux.com are in front.

There is a crash near the front...Vicioso (ONCE) is down. That's it though.

16:44 CEST    195.5 km/1 km to go
1 km to go, and McEwen is well placed behind a makeshift Lotto train. Now FDJ take over, with McGee leading into the final corner.

16:44 CEST    
O'Grady is third wheel out of the corner, as McGee gives a great leadout to Cooke. But then Petacchi comes from a long way back and takes his third stage! That looked easy, but it wasn't. Petacchi came off McEwen's wheel (in fifth) with about 250m to go to pass everyone in front of him and win. He is incredibly strong at the moment.

He's not strong enough to take the green jersey though - McEwen still has that, but Petacchi is closing the gap (missing the sprint on Monday hurt his chances). The polka dotted jersey goes to Frederic Finot, while Karpets keeps the white jersey for best young rider. Victor Pena is of course still in yellow.

Angel Vicioso, who crashed with just over 1 km to go, comes across the line, holding his left arm gingerly. Could be a broken collarbone.

Thanks for following the live coverage of Stage 5 with us. We'll be back at 11:45 CEST tomorrow with Stage 6.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo           4.09.47 (47.2 km/h)
2 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance
3 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom
5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
6 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
8 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
9 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Vini Caldirola-So.Di
10 Jean Patrick Nazon (Fra) Jean Delatour

General classification after stage 5

1 Victor Hugo Pena (Col) US Postal-Berry Floor         
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor          0.01
3 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal-Berry Floor        0.05
4 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor                    
5 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor        0.23

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