Chasing Le Tour: Cavendish opens his account

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It took him a few days longer than he might have liked but after five stages of the 2013 Tour de France, Mark Cavendish has joined the winners list. And despite a series of crashes in the final kilometres of stage 5, Orica-GreenEDGE’s Simon Gerrans stayed out of trouble and will be in the yellow jersey again on stage 6.

Before today’s stage I spoke with Orica-GreenEDGE general manager Shayne Bannan to get a sense of the team’s ambitions now that Gerrans is in yellow. Bannan said it’s realistic for Gerrans to lead the general classification until the end of stage 7, “if all goes our way”.

Stage 8 features the race’s first hors categorie climb (the 15.3km-long Col de Paiheres) and the race’s first summit finish — the 7.8km Ax 3 Domaines climb. Gerrans is no slouch in the hills but he’s unlikely to be strong enough to stay with the likes of Froome, Evans and Contador.

Gerrans himself stepped off the team bus this morning to the cheers of a waiting crowd of Australians, before doing a couple of interviews and heading to the sign-in podium. Gerrans would ride the stage in yellow knicks, to match his maillot jaune, about which Orica-GreenEDGE sports director Matt White said: “We came prepared … but I’m sure all the teams do.” It’s just a shame that preparation didn’t include a yellow bike as well.

Earlier in the morning we spent a bit of time at the Cannondale bus listening to Ted King talk about his exclusion from the race after missing the time cut in the stage 4 TTT. Cannondale launched a protest with the race jury overnight and waiting for a response led to a sleepless night for King.

The American described yesterday’s #LetTedRide Twitter campaign as “heartwarming” and “tear-jerking” but in the end, even the support of fellow riders could do nothing to overturn the jury’s decision. King was out of his first Tour de France after four stages.

Until next time, thanks for reading and be sure to check out our photos from stage 5 below.

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