95th Tour de France - GT
France, July 5-27, 2008
Results & report
Stage 5 - Wednesday, July 9: Cholet - Châteauroux, 232km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Hedwig Kröner
Bonjour to all you cycling
fans out there - and welcome back in the Cyclingnews blimp hovering over
the course of the 2008 Tour de France stage 5. Today will see the riders tackle
a pretty flat parcours from Cholet to Chateauroux on 323 kilometres. The longest
stage of this year's Grande Boucle will hopefully see the McEwen's and
Cavendish's of this world battle it out against each other in a bunch sprint
finish later today. The fast men missed out on their chances on stage 3 to Nantes
already, so we can be pretty sure they'll do everything they can to reel in
a possible breakaway before getting to the line.
The official start of the fifth stage
was taken at 11.42am. Before that, in the neutral zone, Columbian Mauricio Soler
(Barloworld) went down - not badly, but he might have sustained another blow
at one of his wrists, as we're sorry to announce that the 2007 polkadot jersey
winner abandoned the race after 12 kilometres into today's journey...
He was certainly brave to try and hold on since his crash on stage one, where
he broke a small bone in his right hand. Finally, the pain proved too much of
a strain. We certainly hope to see him back next year!
Shortly before that, at km 11, an
escape group managed to jump away from the bunch. Again, we have French riders
in front: Lilian Jégou (Francaise des Jeux), Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and
Florent Brard (Cofidis). The trio was quickly given some advantage by the bunch:
five clicks later, it was already up to 2'10.
The escapees covered
45.8km in the first hour of racing. Right now, the leading trio has 8'15 minutes
over the bunch, with 65 kilometres covered.
Today, Cyclingnews is giving
away a signed jersey of the 2007 Liquigas team! Just pick today's top three
in the correct order and win! Simply email your prediction to our commentary
inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org). All emails have to be received when the
first rider hits the 20-kilometre to go banner.
13:23 CEST 72km/160km to go
Aha! The sprinter's
teams are already reacting, even though there's still 160 kilometres to go.
The leaders' advantage has started to shrink, right now it is 7'30 minutes.
They sure don't want to make the same mistakes as two days ago...
Christian Vandevelde from the Garmin-Chipotle
team told our reporter Gregor Brown this morning that he was satisfied with
his ride in the time trial yesterday. He finished 8th behind winner Stefan Schumacher
(Gerolsteiner). "I'm happy so far," he said. "I rode a good time trial, I was
well within myself and that bodes well for later. I'm actually quite excited
about the way I felt - it's a good sign for what's to come."
what his team's strategies were with regard to a possible yellow jersey for
David Millar in tomorrow's stage, he said, "Vaughters hasn't told us anything
yet but I'm sure he'll come up with a plan for tomorrow."
Emails are already flooding in for
the Liquigas jersey competition today. Most of our readers choose Robbie McEwen
as a winner, with Thor Hushovd, Mark Cavendish and Erik Zabel following the
Australian Silence-Lotto rider.
Here's another information on the
finish in Chateauroux which might be useful: it is very straight, no bends for
the last 1600 metres. The road is wide, 8.5 metres.
There are two prominent birthdays
to point out today: First, the ’Eagle of Toledo’ Federico Bahamontes - who won
the polkadot jersey six times between 1954 and 1964 - turns 80 today. Secondly,
Cyclingnews editor and reporter Gregor Brown also celebrates his 34th
birthday today. Congrats, Gregor! We certainly hope you will be able to celebrate
this tonight with more than an autoroute gas station sandwich and a bottle of
13:45 CEST 88km/144km to go
The maximum gain
for Brard, Vogondy and Jégou so far today was 8'15 at the 52km mark. That has
recently dropped to 7'15 just before the end of the second hour of racing. It
is interesting to see that Cofidis was on the attack every day since the beginning
of the race. They were already rewarded by Samuel Dumoulin's win on stage 3.
What a great victory for the smallest rider of the Tour, who is getting married
in October to the daughter of AG2R team manager Vincent Lavenu, Magali.
Ah... more and more readers now pick
Mark Cavendish as the winner for today. The Manxman is definitely a favourite,
and has a similar sprinting style to Robbie McEwen. He may still be young, but
even McEwen says that he is the fastest in the last 200 metres.
As regards positioning, McEwen still beats Cav in our opinion as the Australian
has more experience jumping to the right wheels, and finally squeezing through
the right opening in the finish. One thing's for sure: these two will be hard
to beat for anyone today, except maybe for... Hushovd?
Gregor Brown also talked to Garmin-Chipotle's
Trent Lowe this morning before the start. "I feel well, I feel fit," the Aussie
said about his state of form. "I'm getting into the groove..."
if he was nervous at the race, he replied, "It was nervous racing in the first
couple of stages. Now, the tension is coming down. Hopefully it won't be as
tense now. Although tomorrow, it's definitely going to be nervous again!"
The leading trio have just passed
the feed zone at km 100.5. A word on the weather today: it's absolutely beautiful.
The sun is out, it's about 22° Celsius with a light 15 km/h breeze coming from
the south west. This means the breeze is in favour of the breakaway, as the
riders are moving eastwards to Chateauroux.
14:12 CEST 107km/125km to go
As to the intermediate
sprints, the three Frenchmen seem to have no particular objectives. The first
sprint (Argenton-les-Vallees, km 33.5) was taken by Jégou in front of Vogondy
and Brard, the second (Richelieu, km 98.5) was won by Brard in front of Vogondy
The leaders are currently racing 6'40 minutes faster
than the bunch.
Robert Hunter from Barloworld, as
well as Oscar Freire (Rabobank) are also being picked to finish within the top
three by our readers. For sure, the triple World champ is a threat when he is
not injured or ill, and the South African is definitely hoping to repeat his
2007 Tour stage win.
Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé actually
talked to Hunter this morning, who was sure that today's stage would be decided
in a bunch sprint. "I'm pretty sure that it'll come down to a sprint," he said.
"All the sprinters are keen on it!"
Asked if he thought that the
first flat stage had been missed by the fast men because there are no real sprinter's
teams in the bunch this year, he replied, "Oh, there are still more than enough
teams who are interested in sprints! I'm not worried."
Another possible top three finisher
today could be Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner). The German has already won two
Giro d'Italia stages and one at the Vuelta.
Back in the peloton, the two German
teams Gerolsteiner and Milram are controlling the pace. Gerolsteiner of course
lives up to its status as Stefan Schumacher wears the maillot jaune since
his astounding win in the time trial yesterday, and Milram are hoping for Erik
Zabel to have a good day today.
14:40 CEST 125km/107km to go
The gap between
the bunch and the three breakaways, which include French champion Nicolas Vogondy,
has dropped under 6 minutes.
Brard is currently riding alone in front,
as his companions have stopped for a natural need...
We just hear that a crash occurred
in the bunch a few kilometres ago, involving amongst others Alejandro Valverde
(Caisse d'Epargne). He was spotted back at the race doctor's car, accompanied
by his team-mates, and seemed to have a problem with his elbow. It didn't seem
to be very serious, though. We'll keep you posted.
The Caisse d'Epargne riders are back
in the first part of the peloton. Everything looks okay; the other riders that
apparently went down did not sustain any serious injuries, either.
The race is moving through beautiful French farming countryside. Skies are perfect.
They're on long, flattish roads passing through some picturesque villages amidst
the fields, where supporters cheer them on.
John Gadret, a climber of team AG2R,
is riding at the very back of the bunch. He was reported to be one of the victims
of the crash earlier. The pace, however, is reasonable right now - he didn't
look like he was suffering.
But as we write this, the bunch is starting
to get more strung out...
14:52 CEST 135km/97km to go
AG2R's Cyril Dessel
punctured. He's stopping to get a new rear wheel and gets a push from his mechanic
to get going again.
People from all over the world are
e-mailing us to win the Liquigas jersey. It's a real flood in the commentator's
inbox! Just to inform those of you who've just tuned in, Cyclingnews
is giving away a signed 2007 Liquigas jersey for the correct pick of today's
top three at the finish in Chateauroux.
Just email your prediction
to our commentary inbox (email@example.com) before the first rider
hits the 20-kilometre to go banner.
By the way, we haven't been
able to identify all the signatures on the jersey, but we are sure to have recognized
Magnus Bäckstedt's name...
Peter Beaumont asked us if there
were any time eliminations applied to the time trials at the Tour de France.
In fact, there are:
As a rule of thumb, the time cut in a time trial
is 25%. With yesterday's winning time of 35'44, it would have been roughly nine
minutes. The last rider was Freddy Bichot, 7'10 behind stage winner Stefan Schumacher.
Riders will roughly know how fast they can go and those are not competing for
the stage or the overall will take it 'easy.' They will ride tempo and stay
in a comfort zone. They still will want a massage in the evening, though...
It is rare that someone gets put hors déelai in a time trial, but it
can happen – especially when the road tilts up to a place like the Plan de Corones,
in the recent stage
16 time trial in the Giro. No less than six riders were cut that day, after
Franco Pellizotti posted a 40'26:
HD Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Saunier Duval - Scott 51.18
HD Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 51.19
HD Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre 51.41
HD Christopher Sutton (Aus) Slipstream Chipotle 52.35
HD Lander Aperribay (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 52.40
HD Thomas Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 53.48
People still talk about the Indurain sandwich, when Miguel was flying on the
front in a 1993 Tour time trial, while brother Prudencio ended up in last place.
If Miguel wouldn't have flatted, it is well possible that Prudencio would have
been kicked out of the Tour by his brother...
15:20 CEST 149km/83km to go
With a little more
than 80 kilometres to go before the finish in Chateauroux, the gap between the
break and the bunch is down to 5'15. All is going to plan for the moment for
For most of our readers, the win will be battled out
between Mark Cavendish (Columbia) and Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto). Other contenders
include Erik Zabel (Milram), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Oscar Freire (Rabobank),
Robert Hunter (Barloworld) and Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner). Who else could
score a top three finish? Who could get a surprise placing of the less known
The sky is still immaculate. The
bunch is riding along a river through the fields. The Chateau du Grand-Pressigny
thrones over the scenery... No wonder the French feel protective about their
At the sprint in Grand-Pressigny
(km 152), Vogondy took the points ahead of Brard and Jégou. The three riders
therefore evenly split up the sprint points of this stage between them.
News on Valverde: The crash earlier
took off some skin on his right elbow and knee, but it doesn't look more serious
than that. The Spaniard is still able to laugh and wave to the TV camera, so
it can't be too bad.
Arnold Bradford sent in one additional
information with regard time trial time eliminations. "It happened in the Tour
as recently as 2004, when Lance Armstrong's storming victory at Alpe d'Huez
eliminated two riders: Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon, and Aart Vierhouten
(Ned) Lotto-Domo." Thanks Arnold!
Several readers have now picked green
jersey wearer Kim Kirchen as a possible top three finisher today, on top of
the usual suspects like McEwen and Cavendish. Well, we must admit that is not
a bad choice! The Luxemburger has recently proved that he is more than just
a Classics specialist. In fact, he has become quite an allrounder over the years:
he can climb, time trial... although we still believe that the green jersey
is not an overall objective for him.
Jane van Niekerk and François van
Heerden further add to our discussion of time trial eliminations: "Robert Hunter
was eliminated on the second to last stage in 2006 in the time trial due to
the fact that he had saddle sores and had to do the time trial standing the
whole way. He did not make the cut off time and was not allowed to complete
the final stage the following day."
Thanks for that! Goes to show
that we do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of our favourite sport after all...
nobody's perfect, right.
15:45 CEST 166km/66km to go
The gap has dropped
to three minutes now as the bunch is stretching out amidst the wheat fields,
golden brown in the sunshine between the dark green forests.
for an Espresso up here in the blimp!
The teams Columbia and Crédit Agricole
are now doing much of the work in the front of the bunch, together with Gerolsteiner.
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) is riding at the very end of the pack, with his back
number 13 still pinned on upside down. This, by the way, is tolerated by the
race directors, but solely for this particular number.
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes
talked to Adam Hansen (Columbia) this morning. "So far so good – the team is
doing really well, it has got two jerseys," the Australian said. "It is a sprint
day today and we really hope we can do something for Mark. We hope it stays
together for a sprint.
"I had a rest day yesterday, I just cruised
it and took it as easy as possible. I just made sure I made the time cut. I
will have a lot of work coming up in the hills," he added - so much for elimination
possibilities in the time trials!
Another rider not to be counted out
in bunch sprint finishes is Barloworld's Baden Cooke. He told Cylingnews
this morning: "I felt good on Monday, it was a long day. I am feeling better
each day and I think today I will have a chance. Two days ago I was feeling
good and today I will have a crack at it."
The gap is coming down fast now,
maybe even too fast. Only 2'20 minutes left, with over 50 kilometres to go.
Today's favourite Robbie McEwen was pretty sure that the sprinters would be
able to do their jobs today - and it quite looks like it right now. "There was
not enough organisation amongst the teams to bring back the breakaway [on Monday]...
it was a wasted opportunity. Hopefully today is better," he said to Shane Stokes,
who also had the opportunity to speak to Mark Cavendish (Columbia).
"I am excited about today," said the Manxman. "Hopefully we can work on what
happened the other day. We didn’t get them [the break] back then. There were
a lot of other teams not willing to ride, and so we missed out in the end."
One rider we haven't mentioned yet
for today's finish is Quick Step's Gert Steegmans. As there is no Tom Boonen
to lead out, Steegmans can do a sprint for himself and maybe score a good placing,
too. Who knows what he's capable of?
The break of the day still has about
Photo ©: AFP
16:16 CEST 187km/45km to go
The bunch is sitting
up a bit now as the gap is down to two minutes. They pass another chateau in
the valley of the river Indre. France is just full of them!
Schumacher is stopping to get some water out of his body.
The break is still working well together,
but we don't think they have any illusions about their fate.
is chasing back to the bunch in the cars. Now he's back within the field. Gerolsteiner
apparently didn't count on the yellow jersey too much as they didn't bring any
yellow shorts to the Tour... 'Schumi' is wearing the yellow jersey with just
the usual blue shorts. He does have a yellow helmet, though!
Don't forget that you have to send
in your top three picks before the first riders pass the 20 km to go-sign. After
that, we cannot include them anymore in the competition for the signed Liquigas
jersey. Currently, there are still 37 clicks to go before Chateauroux.
Quick Step DS Wilfried 'Fiete' Peeters
just picked Mark Cavendish for today's win to French television, by the way.
Schumacher in yellow
Photo ©: AFP
Crédit Agricole's Simon Gerrans told
Shane Stokes this morning that he thought his team had a card to play in the
sprints: "We hope it will all come back together at the finish today and Thor
can go for it."
Regarding the green jersey, he added that "Kirchen
already said he is going to go for it. I think he is a real threat to Thor,
he is a rider who can chip away at the points."
The French team is
working together with Columbia and Gerolsteiner to reel in the break.
Thomas Lövkvist from Team Columbia
took over the white jersey of best young rider yesterday. "I am very happy with
the jersey," he told us at the start. "It is a great thing, I have never been
in a jersey in a Grand Tour before, so it is very nice. I will try to keep it
as long as possible, until Paris if I can. But it is a long Tour and there are
a lot of good riders here, so it will be hard. I will do what I can and see
where it is going to take me."
16:44 CEST 209km/23km to go
The leader's advantage
is close to one minute now. It'll definitely be a bunch sprint if we don't get
any counter-attack! But that seems unlikely, as there aren't any significant
hills to accelerate.
Riders are slowly starting to position
themselves. But the break isn't giving up yet... here's the 20 km-mark! Time's
up for our competition! Please don not send in any predictions anymore as they
will not be taken into account.
16:54 CEST 217km/15km to go
Still 1'02 for the
leaders. They are giving it all they have.
Regarding our competition,
we will try and find the winner right after the stage. The Live coverage will
thus be continuing until we can announce the lucky winner of the signed Liquigas
jersey. Thanks for your many emails and smart picks! I hear we have received
close to a thousand messages...
All the sprinters teams are now at
the front of the peloton. The gap is melting away rapidly. A classic sprint
finish is coming up!
16:58 CEST 222km/10km to go
35 seconds between
the leaders and the peloton, which is winding its way through a forest. Riders
are starting to fight for position. A Cofidis rider is trying to break the rhythm
for his team-mate up front, but in vain.
Hincapie punctured! He's chasing
back to the bunch now, behind his team car.
He should be alright. Taking one
team car after the next...
The bunch comes under the 10km-banner.
33 seconds to go to catch the break, which is racing flat out.
Spectators support the breakaway,
as Hincapie gets back into the bunch.
17:02 CEST 225km/7km to go
Still 32 seconds!
Liquigas, Columbia, FDJ, Silence, Quick Step are all leading out the pack.
17:04 CEST 227km/5km to go
They are coming into
Ouch! A Saunier Duval rider, Passeron,
collided with a spectator, a woman it seemed. She's also getting back up, as
the rider did.
17:06 CEST 228km/4km to go
The gap is down to
20 seconds. Good timing by the bunch and their DS! The breakaway riders are
looking back now.
Another crash in a roundabout! Heinrich
Haussler went down from Gerolsteiner. He is not standing up. Looks like he hit
17:07 CEST 229km/3km to go
Columbia is leading
out. We'll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything about Haussler.
17:08 CEST 230km/2km to go
Four Columbia riders
in front, lined up as a train.
17:09 CEST 231km/1km to go
They're almost catching
the break now. Vogondy attacks!
The French champion goes for it...
but the bunch is near. The others are caught.
But the sprinters finally make it...
Cav takes it! In front of Zabel, Freire and Hushovd.
No - it's Freire who takes second
in front of Zabel. By a millimetre.
Cavendish started his sprint from
far away, while McEwen was nowhere to be seen.
Now, let's see who won the signed
Liquigas jersey. Could we ask the persons who picked the right top three in
winning order (1. Cavendish, 2. Freire, 3. Zabel) to send us an e-mail, so that
we can identify them more easily. As we said, we have almost a thousand emails
to wade through...
And we have a lucky winner! Drum
roll... it's Patrick Sungwook Chang! He was amongst the very few who picked
Cavendish, Freire and Zabel, and moreover in the right order! Most of you picked
Cav, McEwen and Zabel.
Thanks Patrick, we will send you an email
soon. Take care and join us again for tomorrow's stage 6, the first mountain
test in this year's Tour.
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