Tour de France 2012: Stage 5
Um, yeah, did you guys see Mark Cavendish's (Isle of Man) face yesterday as he road in last to the finish line, at what can only be described as a brooding pace (if that even exists)? No? Well, allow me to describe it to you. The camera was glued to Cav's face the whole ride in, and though Cav never actually looked into the camera (because it would have melted), one could still make out the ice-cold glare he was sporting (pun intended) which, even though I was watching on TV, from a safe Atlantic Ocean's distance away, still made me pee my pants in fear. Just kidding. Am I?
If you look at a map of today's stage, you'll notice that it is even flatter than yesterday's stage, with the same sprinting opportunities (one midstage, and one stage-end sprint). Cav will no doubt be riding with the intent to make up for yesterday's sprint finish, when he crashed with two miles to go.
• Our break away for the day is established within the first mile by, Matthieu Ladagnous (France), Jan Ghyselinck (Germany), Julien Simon (France), and Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spain). None of these men are former stage winners, so there is nothing to lose and everything to gain!
• An important milestone for Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) if he can stay in yellow today. It will mark his 27th day in yellow in his career thus far. This puts Cancellara in the company of other 27-day-plus riders such as Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Lance Armstrong (USA), and Bernard Hineault (France) to name a few. Pretty impressive company considering Cancellara is not a team leader.
• At 10 km (6 miles) to the midstage sprint line, the lead-out trains begin to take shape. From the looks of it, we will be seeing the same positions we have been seeing in the sprints so far; Matty Goss (Australia) behind his lead out in front, Cav drafting Goss, and Peter Sagan (Slovakia) and Alessandro Petacchi (Italy) following Cav.
And not unlike our typical lead out, we have our typical sprint standings. Cav in first over the line, Goss in second, Mark Renshaw (Australia), Sagan, etc - whatever, 1 down 1 to go, Cav!
Where was Andre Greipel in that sprint? He better show a little effort in the final sprint. Speaking of showing some effort, it wouldn't hurt Tyler Farrar (USA) to make an attempt in the final sprint either. In an interview with Allan Peiper (Garmin's director of competition), he was quoted as saying, "Farrar is still upbeat." Of what? His most dismal year in racing? What a sport! (Pun definitely intended.)
• At around 50 km (31 miles) to the finish line we see, for the first time this Tour, a Garmin team rider move up to the front of the peloton. Could this be the beginnings of a lead out for Tyler Farrar?
• At 25 km (15 miles) it's getting about time for the peloton to speed the heck up and catch that break away. On probably one of the flattest, most sprinter-perfect stages, we don't want to see a break away rider get the stage win. And yet at 15 km (9 miles) to the finish line the gap is still over 1 minute! Who's running this show?! Did Jens Voigt quit?
• We still haven't caught up to the break away riders, who at this point, have been ahead of the peloton nearly all day. Despite that, we start to see some efforts toward developing a lead out for some of our key sprinters. Team Sky moves up front to the left of the peloton for Cav. Team Lampré secures a position front and center for Alessandro Petacchi. Lastly, BMC riders line up the front right side of the peloton to protect team leader Cadel Evans (Australia). Sagan has positioned himself at Cav's hip. This will be a show down.
• Ghyselinck attacks his fellow break away riders, as it looks like the peloton is way too late in chasing the four riders.
• A huge crash occurs in the peloton, caused by a Garmin rider (Farrar?), but at the 11th hour the sprinters bolt for the finish line, catching the break away themselves (thanks for nothing, peloton!) and we get our sprint finish. Goss was looking good for the win again, but Greipel, coming out late, bypasses everyone to win the stage!
Quoi? Pardon? Did I just see that? Where was Cavendish? Was he caught up in the crash? Did he get boxed out? Was he momentarily abducted by aliens, lobotomized, and returned to Earth? Oh no, I'll tell you where he was, he was too busy coming in fifth to trouble himself with first place!
I went looking for a post-stage interview with Cavendish to confirm what I knew had to be a mistake. But the only thing I could find was a post-stage quote from Greipel, which was so endearing, it made me want to give him a hug. As if that wasn't bad enough, when Cav finally tweeted about the race, he admitted defeat with grace and humility! Appalling.
Jersey Lineup End of Stage 5
• Yellow Jersey (best overall): Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RadioShack Nissan Trek
• White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
• Green Jersey (best sprinter): Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
• Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains): Michael Morkov (Denmark) Saxo Bank
Top 10 After Stage 5
1) Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RNT
2) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
3) Sylvain Chavanel (France) OmegaPharma-QuickStep
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
5) Edvald BoassonHagen (Norway) Sky
6) Denis Menchov (Russia) Katusha
7) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
8) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
9) Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) BMC
10) Andréas Klöden (Germany) RadioShack Nissan Trek