Thursday's Stage 5 was another ride that belonged to the sprinters. The flat course stretching roughly 116 miles from Épernay to Montargis, France, was won by Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) with a furious dash to the line, narrowly edging out Germany's Gerald Ciolek.
For Cavendish, the "Manx Missile," even though it was only the sixth day of racing, the win was a long time coming for someone who took six stage victories in 2009, and had been shutout in this year's sprint finishes up until today.
For the final 5 km, it appeared that the Garmin-Transitions team had everything in order to launch their sprinter, American Tyler Farrar, but Cavendish's lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, burst through and left Farrar behind (he finished 10th).
HTC-Columbia's Mark Renshaw gave one of the best sprint leadouts you'll ever see today, and his teammate Mark Cavendish finally got his unbeateable act together for the sprint victory in Montargis. With several teams vying for control Team Garmin-Transitions put its leadout train on the front for the final 2km, setting up Tyler Farrar to see if he could sprint effectively only three days after cracking his wrist in a crash (answer: not quite yet). But it was Renshaw who crashed the party, first boxing in Thor Hushovd, then accelerating through an opening past the Garmin train and dropping Cavendish off in perfect position to finish off the field.
It was another day with no change to the overall leader board with the peloton finishing shortly behind the sprint-out.
General Classification After Stage 5:
1. Fabian Cancellara, Team Saxo Bank
2. Geraint Thomas, Sky (+ 00:23)
3. Cadel Evans, BMC (+ 00:39)
4. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Transitions (+ 00:46)
5. Sylvain Chavanel, Quick Step (+01:01)
9. Alberto Contador, Astana (+ 01:40)
18. Lance Armstrong, Radioshack (+ 02:30)
Friday's Stage 6 is the longest of the race so far, stretching roughly 141 miles from Montargis to Gueugnon. It is also the last flat ride before they Tour enters the Alps this weekend.
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