Sunflowers, sunflowers sunflowers – the commentator’s saviour when there’s nothing much happening in the race, and today’s stage, 187.5km from Ã‰pernay to Montargis, featured a lot of them, alongside recommendations for cycling books and ruminations on church architecture.
The peloton relaxed in the sun as a three-man break of riders from Quick Step, Caisse d’Epargne and Cofidis toiled away fruitlessly up the road. At 10km they were still away, and at 6.7km JosÃ© Ivan Gutierrez (GCE) jumped, but was caught with 4km to spare.
HTC-Columbia were massing behind, determined to perform better than yesterday, as were Sky, Lampre and Garmin, whose sprinter Tyler Farrar had recovered from his wrist fracture sufficiently to give the stage a pop. Garmin led the peloton around a tight right hander into the last 600m, but HTC’s train finally delivered Cavendish to a stage victory. The delighted sprinter’s celebration proved how much it meant to him. Gerald Ciolek (MRM) and Edvald Boasson-Hagen (SKY) took second and third, with Hushovd (CTT) fifth and Farrar 10th.
GC after five stages:
1. Fabian Cancellara (SAX)
2. Geraint Thomas (SKY) + 23″
3. Cadel Evans (BMC) + 39″
4. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM) + 46″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (QST) + 1’01”
6. Andy Schleck (SAX) +1’09”
7. Thor Hushovd (CTT) +1’19”
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (AST) +1’31”
9. Alberto Contador (AST) +1’40”
10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (OLO) +1’42”