If you were asked to make a list of Australia’s most successful current athletes, it’s unlikely anyone would include a world champion by the name of Jason Belmonte.
In an incident packed Stage 5 of the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish, the missile from the Isle of Man, overcame his doubters and claimed his first stage win of this year’s tour.
It was his sixteenth stage win in four years, his first in 2011, and the third time he has won Stage 5 of the Tour de France.
In yet another difficult, narrow, uphill finish to a stage, it looked a lost cause with Cavendish in tenth position with 500 metres to go.
But he was not to be denied.
He got on to the wheel of Sky’s Geraint Thomas and then went deep into the red zone to overtake Phillipe Gilbert on the line.
Cavendish, who is never short of an opinion, had this to say at the completion end of the stage.
“I think what the organisers have done this year is they’ve made it hard to have a proper bunch sprint”
“We’ve got the best team and we’ve dominated the sprints of the Tour de France, so they’ve tried to make it a handicap this year.”
“That wasn’t a bunch sprint, that was hard, that was real hard at the finish, actually, proper hard when you see Gilbert, Hushovd and Rojas at the finish.”
“Them last couple of hundred metres my legs were really, really going. I’m really happy with that.”
The overall standings were unchanged at the completion of the stage.
Yellow jersey holder Thor Hushovd (10th), Cadel Evan (11th), Alberto Contador (35th) and Andy Schleck (39th) all recorded the same time as the winner.
However, the stage was marred by a ridiculous amount of spills and crashes which resulted in two riders having to abandon the tour. Other riders who hit the dirt included heavyweights Contador and Robert Gesink.
The falls were so frequent it must have crossed the French Constabulary’s mind to set up a random breath testing station during the stage.
Stage 6 of the tour from Dinan to Lisieux is a “flat” stage through the rolling landscape of Normandy.
It is also the tour’s longest stage at 226.5 kilometres
The stage finish has again been set up to take away the dominance of Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad team. There is a nasty little climb 1.5 kilometres from the finish which will eliminate the chance of a bunch sprint.
This finish will present yet another chance for Gilbert to clinch his second win of the tour and also feed Cavendish’s contempt for the tour organisers.
I can’t see Cavendish making it two in a row. The win looked to have taken too much out him.
But, expect him to add to his impressive tally of wins as the tour continues.
Post script: Cavendish’s last tweet
“Shit, just saw my post-race interview on TV. Just going to clip my facial hair before bed #looklikeahobo”
Stage 5 Results
POS No. Name Team Time
1 171 Mark CAVENDISH THR 03:38:32
2 032 Philippe GILBERT OLO 03:38:32
3 088 Jose Joaquin ROJAS MOV 03:38:32
4 156 Tony GALLOPIN COF 03:38:32
5 117 Geraint THOMAS SKY 03:38:32
6 033 André GREIPEL OLO 03:38:32
7 105 Sébastien HINAULT ALM 03:38:32
8 132 William BONNET FDJ 03:38:32
9 095 Daniel OSS LIQ 03:38:32
10 051 Thor HUSHOVD GRM 03:38:32
11 141 Cadel EVANS BMC 03:38:32
35 001 Alberto CONTADOR SBS 03:38:32
49 011 Andy SCHLECK LEO 03:38:32
POS No. Name Team Time Gap
1 051 Thor HUSHOVD GRM 17:36:57 00:00:00
2 141 Cadel EVANS BMC 17:36:58 00:00:01
3 018 Frank SCHLECK LEO 17:37:01 00:00:04
4 056 David MILLAR GRM 17:37:05 00:00:08
5 074 Andréas KLÖDEN RSH 17:37:07 00:00:10
6 111 Bradley WIGGINS SKY 17:37:07 00:00:10
7 117 Geraint THOMAS SKY 17:37:09 00:00:12
8 114 Edvald Boasson HAGEN SKY 17:37:09 00:00:12
9 013 Jakob FUGLSANG LEO 17:37:09 00:00:12
10 011 Andy SCHLECK LEO 17:37:09 00:00:12
39 001 Alberto CONTADOR SBS 17:38:39 00:01:42
Overall Standing – Australians
POS No. Name Team Gap Time
2 141 Cadel EVANS BMC 00:00:00 17:36:58
82 005 Richie PORTE SBS 00:04:24 17:41:22
87 113 Simon GERRANS SKY 00:04:31 17:41:29
90 174 Matthew GOSS THR 00:04:53 17:41:51
98 016 Stuart O’GRADY LEO 00:06:09 17:43:07
130 177 Mark RENSHAW THR 00:09:16 17:46:14
Green Sprint Jersey Standings
POS No. Name Team Points
1 032 Philippe GILBERT OLO 120
2 088 Jose Joaquin ROJAS MOV 112
3 141 Cadel EVANS BMC 90
4 171 Mark CAVENDISH THR 84
5 051 Thor HUSHOVD GRM 82