Tour de France 2011: Mark Cavendish wins stage five
Tour de France 2011
Dates: Saturday 2 July - Sunday 24 July
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Coverage: Listen live to every stage finish on the BBC Sport website (UK only); live text commentary on key stages; updates on BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra
Cavendish celebrates his 16th stage win in the Tour de France
Mark Cavendish won the fifth stage of the Tour de France on a day when a number of leading riders suffered crashes.
The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man surged to the front in a frantic sprint finish to finish ahead of Philippe Gilbert and Jose Joaquin Rojas.
Norway's Thor Hushovd was 10th and retains the yellow jersey.
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas finished fifth but RadioShack leader Janez Brajkovic was forced to retire.
Cavendish, who won five stages in 2010, had to work hard for his 16th victory, which equalled the record of the legendary five-time Tour winner Jacques Anquetil.
His HTC-Highroad team-mates had expended all of their energy driving the pace in the final few, uphill kilometres of the stage, leaving the Manxman without his usual lead-out train.
Left to fend for himself, Cavendish looked to have been left behind when the sprint began, but cleverly latched on to the wheel of Thomas before launching himself to the front.
"It was proper hard, my legs were going at the end," said Cavendish. "I am really happy with that."
Tristan Valentin, Sebastien Turgot, Anthony Delaplace and Jose Ivan Gutierrez made the initial break, the quartet leading by almost six minutes at one point.
Turgot claimed the intermediate sprint, with Valentin second, but when the peloton reached the mark, Cavendish appeared to be blocked off his sprint line and raised his arm in frustration at another contentious moment in the competition for the green jersey.
With around 100km to go of the 164.5km stage from Carhaix to Cap Frehel there were a string of crashes.
Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins was one of the first to suffer but was able to continue after a change of bike.
Soon after, Brajkovic was involved in a big crash when he slipped on a white line on the roadside.
Brajkovic lay still on the ground before being attended to and although he was able to stand up, he was taken to hospital with his team later saying that he should withdraw from the event.
“"I want to dedicate this to Amber. She was my little baby”
Cavendish pays tribute to his dog, who died on Tuesday
"It's a hard day but there's nothing you can do," said RadioShack team director Alain Galopin. "It's the Tour de France, it's a lottery. Almost everybody crashed. We were hoping to have four leaders in the Pyrenees and there will be only three."
Defending Tour champion Alberto Contador also took a tumble on the tight roads in Brittany, with the Spaniard also requiring a bike change.
Nicki Sorensen, Contador's team-mate, was then pulled down when his handlebars became entangled in a photographer's motorbike, although he was able to continue.
At the front, the quartet were caught with 45m to go, although Thomas Voeckler and Jeremy Roy attacked with 32km remaining.
The duo managed to carve out a one-minute lead but they were hunted down, Voeckler's lead being extinguished 1.7km from home.
Gilbert was one of the riders who charged for the line but Cavendish prevailed, taking 45 points in the green-jersey competition in which he moved up to fourth, 36 points behind Gilbert.
Stage 5 result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC - Highroad) 3hrs 38mins 32secs
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Omega Pharma - Lotto) same time
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