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92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 5 - Wednesday, July 6: Chambord - Montargis, 183 km

Commentary by Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and Anthony Tan

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 13:05 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

12:58 CEST   
Hello to everybody from France! We're back with our Live coverage of the Tour of this beautiful country, with today's stage starting in Chambord, a quiet little town but very proud of its magnificent castle. We're still headed Eastwards, doing a slight swerve towards the North to finish today's race in Montargis after a pretty flat 183 km.

Three intermediate sprints await us at the kilometre-marks 20, 80.5 and 135, and one single hill on the parcours, the Cat. 4 Côte de Bellevue on km 109.5 might see Thomas Voeckler and Erik Dekker fighting for the Mountain's jersey. But you've probably guessed it already, the main question about today's stage is: who will have the legs to jump and take his chances in a breakaway group, which might even make it through to the finish if the sprinter's teams miscalculate their chase - and if Discovery agrees to let somebody go... Second possibility, maybe more likely: The likes of Boonen, McEwen, O'Grady and the other world class sprinters don't want to miss out on the opportunity of having a go at the finish line together again, their teams catching a possible breakaway on the last kilometres.

13:06 CEST   
Unfortunately, there is no Tour de France without uncomfortable weather surprises, and today looks like bad news: It's quite fresh and windy this morning, between 18-20 degrees Celsius, with the weather continuing to come up the Loire river valley again, just like the last couple of days. There are a lot of low clouds and it looks like rain. The riders will have a 15-20 km/h tailwind (from the WSW) for most of the day as they head East. So if it pours down later this afternoon, let's just hope that the riders will arrive safely.

13:16 CEST   
Cyclingnews sources near the Discovery Channel team bus at the start reported that Lance Armstrong will not wear the yellow jersey today, to honour the fact that Dave Zabriskie lost the jersey because of an accident yesterday.

That last happened in 1991, when Greg Lemond refused to take the jersey at first because Rolf Sörensen crashed, broke his collarbone and had to quit the race on the previous day.

13:27 CEST   
Meanwhile, an X-ray examination on Tuesday evening revealed no signs of broken bones in David Zabriskie's body, so the unlucky CSC rider is on his way as well as the rest of the peloton.

"Obviously Dave is in a lot of pain after his crash, but he's a tough guy and after the examination he was determined to continue in the race," said Team CSC's press relations manager, Brian Nygaard.

13:30 CEST   
France is in one frenzy at this very moment because the IOC is about to reveal which city will host the Olympics in 2012. Currently, it's a tough battle between London and Paris - we'll keep you posted.

13:32 CEST   
The start of the fifth stage has just been given, and the first to try their luck were Gerben Löwik (Rabobank), Daniele Righi (Lampre) et Sandy Casar (FDJ) - but they have already been caught.

13:34 CEST   
Chris Brewer, who gives us details of inside the Discovery team bus, spoke with Johan Bruyneel and Dirk Demol before the stage started. They confirmed that one of the early strategies for Discovery Channel is to try and get George Hincapie into an early break and possibly the yellow jersey.

"He's certainly earned that opportunity," Bruyneel said. "Plus that means teams like Quick.Step for Boonen will have to come to the front and work, and that's good for us as well."

13:36 CEST    13km/170km to go
Salvatore "Toto" Commesso is the next rider to attack, but he was brought back after 7 km, with CSC being fairly vigilant in front.

13:40 CEST   
Erik Dekker has also tried to escape, but didn't make it either. Caught immediately. Geslin (Bouygues) and Bodrogi (Crédit Agricole) are next.

13:44 CEST    19km/164km to go
But their attempt is useless. The pace of the bunch is very high, as they head towards the first intermediate sprint in Villeny. Carlos Da Cruz (FDJ) goes for it.

13:47 CEST   
We have just been informed that Lance Armstrong is wearing the Yellow jersey after all. He is reported to have put it on at the "départ réel" on the outskirts of Chambord - maybe Jean-Marie Leblanc insisted on him wearing it. We'll find out.

13:49 CEST   
It's confirmed: at the official start of the stage, the race commissaire stopped the whole peloton to give Armstrong the opportunity to pull over the jersey.

And we have bad news for the French at this moment: In 2012, the Olympics will be held in London, not Paris. Congrats to the British!

13:53 CEST   
Meanwhile, the first sprint has been decided: Boonen was first and got 6 points as well as 6 bonus seconds, Hushovd second for 4 points/seconds, and O'Grady third for 2.

13:57 CEST    28km/155km to go
Bad news for the riders, too, as Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney just told us from the course that a light drizzle has started about halfway, so the bunch is riding towards rain...

Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa) has attacked. He's got 20 seconds.

14:01 CEST   
It looks good for Flecha at the moment, he extends his lead to 30 seconds. But somebody will have to jump with him.

14:03 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan spoke to Robbie Mc Ewen at the start today, who was in one serious mood: "The team needs to control the breakaways today," McEwen said. Asked if he thought that Boonen was on another level, he said, "No, he isn't. No, he isn't. I'll show you that he isn't."

14:06 CEST   
Tom Boonen will have to watch out for McEwen if he wants another stage win. Obviously it takes a lot of energy to contest the intermediate sprints and McEwen is saving his legs for the final one.

According to Tom Steels, McEwen will hit back. "The way I know Robbie," Steels said, "if he gets a couple of moral punches, he strikes back three times as hard. He's a fighter and I expect him go for it." The Green Jersey is unlikely to end up on McEwen's shoulders, the DQ made that a a very unlikely feat. But Tom Steels reckons his team mate will get at least a couple of stage wins on the board before the end of the Tour.

Flecha is still on his own...

14:12 CEST   
Constantino Zaballa (Saunier) has abandoned the race - the first rider this year to do so.

And Erik Dekker tries again, he's just attacked to join Flecha!

14:14 CEST    42km/141km to go
In vain: the bunch won't let Dekker go. But Flecha's still out there.

14:16 CEST   
Cyclingnews also caught up with Davitamon's Fred Rodriguez this morning. The American sprinter is working for McEwen in the bunch sprints, but as Anthony Tan asked him whether he had any personal ambitions, he replied, "I still think I'm one of the fastest in the World. If I have the opportunity I'll have a go too."

"No, Boonen is not on another level - Robbie had a mechanical problem on stage 2 as he couldn't shift onto the 11. I shouldn't have left him too early neither."

14:21 CEST    44km/139km to go
Flecha might not last too long if nobody joins him in his bid. The gap has decreased to 20 seconds now.

14:25 CEST   
Quick.Step, who finished 14th in yesterday's time trial, will "control the peloton" today, Tom Boonen's lead-out man Guido Trenti told us this morning. No surprises there. But apparently, the team has been taking the TTT easy... "Yesterday wasn't too bad," Trenti continued, "The team rode a moderate pace."

14:27 CEST   
Finnish rider Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) now goes for it, as Flecha is not giving up on what he's started. 52 kilometres have been raced in the first hour.

14:32 CEST   
It's a region of France where hunting has quite a tradition, as there's a lot of wild boar in the woods out here. Although some of our readers like to read about local livestock, let's NOT hope to see one running across the road before the riders. That could cause some injuries.

14:38 CEST   
The attackers of the very first hour have joined Carlström: Laszlo Bodrogi (Crédit Agricole) and Salvatore Commesso (Lampre) are up there now, too.

Meanwhile, it has started to rain heavily in the finish...

14:44 CEST    67km/116km to go
Discovery Channel is setting the pace, as Flecha's lead is more than 2 minutes. Of these riders, Laszlo Bodrogi is best-placed on GC at 1.45. Flecha is at 3.19, Carlström at 4.44, Commesso at 5.49 off the Yellow jersey.

14:49 CEST   
Walter Bénéteau (Bouygues) is getting assistance out of the team car - something wrong with his shoe. It's a straight line through the woods at this stage, and Discovery has decided to take it easy: They're more than 4 minutes back now, which means that Bodrogi is "maillot jaune virtuel".

14:53 CEST   
Tom Boonen told the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws yesterday that he expects the efforts of the first days to have their impact on his sprinting capacities today. "If I could have things my way, I'd only put an order in to get that Green Jersey on the last day," he said.

The constant press attention and formalities are cutting heavily into Tornado Tom's recuperation time. "If I keep the Green, I'll have had approx. 30 hours less rest than my team mates," he explains. "I didn't realize which weight this Green Jersey puts on the rider wearing it. Erik Zabel must have been such a strong guy, being able to take it six years in a row! Today for example I had to stay until all the presentations while the whole team was already brought back to the hotel for massages. Every night I'm not at the dinner table before 9.15 pm."

14:59 CEST    81km/102km to go
As Discovery is leading the pack, all the GC contenders are up there too, sitting near to the Boss in yellow.

Flecha is at the second sprint of today in Aubigny-sur-Nere, with 102 km yet to go, and his chasers have just passed that point too.

15:01 CEST   
The peloton is driving through a village cheered by local residents, as the clouds in front of them are hanging low and looking pretty grey. It's not too warm neither, maybe just 20 degrees, and still windy.

15:07 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney also had a chat with Floyd Landis this morning, who said that he was disappointed with Phonak's performance in the time trial yesterday. "We lost a few guys even." but today, he's looking ahead. "I'm still determined and focused, and looking forward to the mountain stages" he said. His soigneur Freddy Viani, who left US Postal together with Landis to join Phonak, was very optimistic for him, telling us that "Landis is in his best form ever, the form of his life."

15:09 CEST   
Flecha still has his nose in the wind on his own, as the three men chasing him are moving closer slowly. They're at less than a minute from him now. He must be feeling strong as he's not waiting...

15:12 CEST    91km/92km to go
Davitamon-Lotto has now also engaged in setting the pace of the peloton. That should make it easier on Discovery. If the sprinter's teams work towards a bunch sprint finish Discovery will not waste a lot of energy in keeping the Yellow jersey.

15:16 CEST    93km/90km to go
Ah - the three are about to catch Flecha now, who's looking over his shoulder. He's taking the time to open an energy bar package now.

15:21 CEST   
Quick.Step is up there with Davitamon and Discovery, so it's working out as planned for the American team. Assistant DS Dirk De Mol said before the start, "We'll see what happens today, we won't defend the Yellow Jersey at all cost. We'll see who tries to get away in breaks because those are sure to happen. It'd be a good thing if the sprinter's teams give us a hand. Probably QuickStep will try to control the race and that's a welcome help for us. Lance is in a comfortable position now. What we had calculated has happened, so all's well for now."

The leaders have reached the feed zone, grabbing the cotton bags from their soigneurs.

15:23 CEST   
There's been a crash! The whole CSC team is waiting for Basso, as Guerini (TMO) is also involved. All are OK though, riding hard to get back to the bunch now.

15:25 CEST   
And there's CSC again having to time trial collectively to get back to the front... Basso has a little scratch on the outside of his right knee, nothing bad though. Sörensen leads the team, followed by Voigt. Guerini is on the back of that little train.

15:29 CEST    97km/86km to go
CSC has made it back to the peloton now, all is well.

15:34 CEST    105km/78km to go
The field is picking up on its pace again as they've left the feed zone behind. Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) is having problems in the back, his injured knee is probably not helping neither. He's holding on though, helped by a teammate and is now getting help from Le Tour's doctor Gérard Porte. The gap to the leaders is currently 3.19 minutes.

15:38 CEST   
The break has arrived in the Côte de Bellevue, as Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) and Laszlo Bodrogi (Crédit Agricole) have attacked the other two in their group. They've made a considerable gap as they pass the GPM, and Flecha and Commesso are talking.

15:40 CEST    111km/72km to go
Flecha got dropped a little but he's back with Commesso, Carlström and Bodrogi. They're back together - nothing else would have made sense.

Behind, Davitamon and Quick.Step are still doing their job, and hitting the climb now.

15:44 CEST   
For the record: Bodrogi was the first to pass the climb, followed by Carlström and Commesso. Dekker keeps the dotted jersey of course, and looks happy with it!

15:47 CEST    117km/66km to go
Flecha is not looking too good anymore, sitting in fourth position in the breakaway. He's having trouble to follow when it comes to climbing a little. Must have spent a lot of energy riding on his own earlier.

15:49 CEST    120km/63km to go
Knaven and Hulsmans are leading the pack now, as the first rain drops start to fall... It's not pouring yet though, but it's increasing.

15:53 CEST    123km/60km to go
The breakaway is kept steadily at a little more than 3 minutes, but the overall pace is high: 49.2 km/h, mostly because of the back wind.

15:57 CEST   
Calzati is unlucky: he caught a piece of toilet paper (?) in his rear derailleur, and Dekker reached out to get it. He didn't dare really though - understandable - but the problem has just resolved itself as the paper was blown away in the wind.

It looks like the rain has ceased. The sun is out now on the leaders, but there are still a lot of clouds hanging over them - the risk of further showers is still there.

16:02 CEST    130km/53km to go
José Angel Gómez (Saunier) has collided with a motorbike and crashed. He didn't hurt himself too much though and is back in the main field, where Manuel Beltran is just handing out bidons to his teammates from out of his jersey. The break's lead has diminished to 2.03 minutes.

16:09 CEST   
Chris Horner appeared quite happy today at the start. The Saunier Duval rider told Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney, "I'm still having fun, enjoying the crowds. I'm looking forward to the mountains, where the action will get going!"

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), meanwhile, told us that he "suffered like a dog" in these first stages of the Tour. "I pulled out of the Giro and it took some time to get better," he said. When we asked him which stages he was looking out for, he replied, "there are at least ten stages I'd like to win!" Rasmussen needs a little hillier parcours to try...

16:11 CEST    137km/46km to go
The leaders have passed the last intermediate sprint in Gien (km 135): Commesso won, with Bodrogi second and Carlström third.

16:16 CEST   
"The final 4000 m are flat coming into town," our special team Discovery insider Chris Brewer has reported, "and crowds are already lining the streets. With 3000 m to go there are a few cobblestone intersections that will give them a bumpy welcome. With barriers all the way home the 2-lane avenue starts off wide enough but soon starts to pare down to become quite narrow. From 2000 m the roads are slightly downhill as they approach the finish line. Light rains have also slickened the asphalt up a bit.

"The critical portion of the finish comes after 800 m and a 50 m cobblestone section with a short rise within it. With about 500 m to go the course takes a very sharp right-hand turn that will probably not support any more than 4 riders across, and it's going to be very slick and very dangerous - a crash here will hold up everyone behind it (but it's within 1000 m so they'd still get the same time). The road then widens up a little bit afterward with a false flat for 300 m, then with 200 m to go it's definitely an uphill finish but not a hard climb. If it's a field sprint, positioning before and after the final right hand turn will almost certainly determine the winner today."

16:23 CEST    143km/40km to go
And it's still Davitamon, Quick.Step and occasionally FDJ leading the chase of the four breakaways, letting them suffer in about 1.30 minutes' distance. Johan Vansummeren is doing an excellent job as usual, and a bunch sprint is VERY likely at this point.

It's getting a little wet out there again, but nothing serious. Nevertheless, the roads in the finish should be still slippery from a previous shower, and we sure hope the bunch will be careful especially with that last right hand-curve with 500 metres to go.

16:27 CEST   
Christophe Brandt is currently in front, then Knaven (Quick.Step). In the back, Calzati (AG2R) is getting bottles out of the team car. Good to see him not giving up. His team has also started helping out in front for Jean-Patrick Nazon. Discovery doesn't have to work at all.

16:31 CEST    151km/32km to go
A few rain drops are coming down again, as the field is moving closer on the four men, approaching the finish on very straight roads. The gap is still above one minute, but "that will not last" - the moving swarm of riders behind then seems to say.

16:37 CEST    157km/26km to go
Saunier Duval's Gomez is getting mechanical help out of his team car, his rear derailleur not working right. He's integrated the peloton now.

In front, the break continues to work together but without much hope. They know. They're taking pretty short terms as this effort is hurting.

16:41 CEST   
With 25 km to go, AG2R is lending a considerable hand in the chase. The gap is down to 50 seconds, and it's dry again. But with these intermittent rain showers, we don't know if we can trust the situation.

16:44 CEST   
Simon Gerrans has just made way in front for Hulsmans. Jan Ullrich is seen in the front too, while Discovery and CSC are sitting in the first part of the peloton. Lance Armstrong and unlucky, injured David Zabriskie should be well protected from the wind.

16:49 CEST    165km/18km to go
40 seconds yet for the break at the 20 km-mark. The bunch is patient, knowing they will get the leaders in time. Liberty Seguros' Jörg Jaksche and another teammate are also up there for Allan Davis. They're all riding strong through the fields and forests, an a gently winding road.

16:52 CEST    168km/15km to go
With 15 km to go, it's getting nervous. The leading riders are looking at each other, as the bunch is moving up on them now. Is it time to attack again? Does anyone have the legs to try it?

16:54 CEST    170km/13km to go
But the sprinter's teams will not be defeated today, that's for sure. Commesso shakes his head, Carlström breathes heavily. They'll be caught.

16:57 CEST    173km/10km to go
And the time is now... The peloton catches the escaped riders, who have given up on pedaling. Let's hope they can follow the pace of that bunch and won't fall off through the rear end.

16:59 CEST    175km/8km to go
Davitamon, Cofidis, Quick.Step are hammering. Ullrich is still in front, wanting to stay away from possible crashes. Armstrong is up there too, as the sprinters look out for the right wheels to take.

17:00 CEST    177km/6km to go
Matthew White is up there, Boonen still hidden within the first 20 riders. McEwen is in 10th position or so as different trains form.

17:02 CEST    178km/5km to go
Another big roundabout to pass, and the bunch nears the outskirts of Montargis. The road is dry. Davitamon and Quick.Step still collaborate in front. Vinokourov is also in the first part of the bunch.

17:04 CEST    179km/4km to go
Boonen is moving up with a teammate. The sprinters are on their lead-out's wheels - and there was a crash! In a right hand turn... Nothing bad happened, but some of the riders might have been put back.

17:05 CEST    181km/2km to go
FDJ in front now, Cofidis, AG2R and Phonak. Cooke is there...

17:06 CEST    182km/1km to go
The last curve is passed. FDJ train is leading out.

17:07 CEST   
Boonen is in 7th position, Cooke is setting the pace, now Zanini goes, Boonen in fifth place...

17:07 CEST   
And McEwen comes too, and gets the stage just in front of Boonen! Now he's got his stage win! Hushovd third.


1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto        3.46.00
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
5 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Domina Vacanze
6 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Francaise des Jeux
8 Baden Cooke (Aus) Francaise des Jeux
9 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC
10 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner

General classification after stage 5
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel    13.45.12
2 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel        0.55
3 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                      1.04
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                    1.07
5 Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel      1.14
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel      1.16
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team       1.21
8 Benjamin Noval (Spa) Discovery Channel         1.26
9 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC               
10 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                   

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