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AMIENS, France (CT) – Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) has taken his second win at the 2015 Tour de France, sprinting to victory in Amiens on a wet and windy stage 5.
Greipel, who was wearing the green jersey for a third consecutive stage, crossed the line ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) to extend his lead in the points classification.
“It was quite an interesting sprint as no one of the sprinters had a real lead-out man in the last 400 metres,” Greipel said after the stage. “So everybody had to time the sprint somehow and find the right position.”
Greipel timed his run to perfection, dashing down the left-hand side, despite having being boxed in as the sprint began.
“At 300 metres to go I thought the sprint was finished for me,” Greipel said. “But somehow I could manage to get out; find space to get out. I knew the right side would be blocked so I was focusing to get out on the left side.”
Overnight leader Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step), meanwhile, finished on bunch time after helping teammate Cavendish get into position for the final sprint. In doing so he becomes the first rider in this year’s Tour to wear the maillot jaune for more than one day. He hopes to retain the overall lead until the first rest day, but is not holding out any false hope.
“I want to keep the yellow now for as long as possible but I’m also realistic,” Martin said. “When the big mountains are coming … I won’t be able to stay with the best riders, especially because I also didn’t really train for this.”
How it unfolded
Dreary conditions awaited the riders at the start of stage 5, with wind and rain a constant companion throughout the 189.5km from Arras to Amien.
Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Seche) attacked from the gun, getting a small gap, but it was only about 10km into the stage that Edet sat up, leaving Perichon to battle the miserable conditions alone.
A crash after 12km left Cofidis duo Nacer Bouhanni and Dani Navarro lying by the side of the road. The former would abandon the race with injuries to his ribs, hips and wrist while Navarro was able to continue on.
Perichon, meanwhile, was given enough latitude to get 2:30 ahead of the peloton as Tinkoff-Saxo tried, unsuccessfully, to split the peloton in some crosswinds.
Another crash after 25km saw Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and several Cannondale-Garmin riders hit the ground. Among them was Jack Bauer who had suffered his fifth crash in as many days. The Kiwi would abandon the race a short time later.
The crashes continued with Bauke Mollema (Trek) among those to hit the ground after 52km, and sprint hopeful Bryan Coquard (Europcar) one of a couple to come a cropper after 65km of racing.
With the peloton content to let Perichon dangle out front, the Frenchmen enjoyed a lead that hovered around 1:30 for some time. That lead came down when the sprinters emerged from the peloton to contest the intermediate sprint after 89.5km. Points leader Andre Greipel was second across the line (behind Perichon), followed by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Mark Cavendish.
Perichon’s TV time came to an end 4km after the intermediate sprint, 96km before the finish. With the peloton back together several teams started massing at the front of bunch, anticipating a right-hand turn into a crosswind with 78km to go.
As that turn was made, Cannondale-Garmin wound up the pace and, with some assistance from Sky, split the peloton in two. All of the GC favourites and classification leaders made it to the front group as the second peloton drifted further behind.
Pre-stage favourite Mark Cavendish punctured from the front group with 67km to go but was quickly paced back to the bunch by his Etixx-Quick-Step teammates.
There was little in the way of action for the next hour or so as the peloton continued to put time into the bunch behind. With 25km to go, however, there was yet another crash, with 20-30 riders affected. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) was caught up in the crash and would spend the next few minutes trying to catch up, with assistance from several of his teammates.
The sprinters’ trains started massing at the front of the bunch with roughly 15km to go. BMC, too, was particularly active at the head of affairs, riding to keep team leader Tejay van Garderen out of trouble. Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky were also working hard on the front of the bunch to keep their respective leaders out of harm’s way.
World champion Michal Kwiatkowski came to the front of the bunch with a little more than 3km to go to, getting the Etixx-Quick-Step train into position. Tony Martin, riding in the yellow jersey of overall race leader, took over a short time later before Giant-Alpecin took up the reins for John Degenkolb.
Despite earlier efforts, organisation at the front of the peloton seemed to dissolve inside the final kilometres with most of the sprinters left to their own devices.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was the first to launch his sprint, followed shortly after by Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Mark Cavendish. But all three were accounted for when Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) powered around the left-hand side and crossed the line, just holding off a fast-finishing Peter Sagan.
The 2015 Tour de France continues tomorrow with a 191.5km stage from Abbeville to Le Havre. In addition to three, fourth-category climbs, the stage ends with an 850m-long ascent that has an average gradient of 7%.
On stage 6, Andre Greipel will spend a fourth day in the green jersey after extending his lead in the points classification today. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) will again wear the polka dot jersey of the mountains classification leader and Peter Sagan will spend another day leading the best young rider classification. BMC again leads the teams classification.
Tour de France (2.UWT) Arras → Amiens
BMC Racing Team