Greipel Takes Stage 5 of Tour de France
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) has taken his second stage of Tour de France 2015. The Gorilla took a bunch sprint to win a rolling, crash-marred, 189.5-km run from Arras to Amiens in 4:39:00. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) finished second and third, respectively, and Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) remains the maillot jaune.
The stage was designed to be part of France’s commemoration of World War I. At 7:45 am, a metal blue cornflower was inaugurated where 1909 Tour champion Francois Faber was killed. At 10 am, a ceremony was held at the British cemetery at Amiens. In addition, the route took the riders past several cemeteries, and some teams paid their respects. Orica-GreenEdge, for example, wore commemorative armbands.
Rain greeted the field at the start. At the lowering of the flag, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) jumped away from the field. Edet dropped back to the peloton, which had not overtaken him when a crash occurred at 11 km. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), who was riding the Tour with injuries suffered at the French road championships, went down and abandoned. Not much later, another crash took down much of the Cannondale-Garmin squad and Greg van Avermaet (BMC). Jack Bauer of Cannondale-Garmin abandoned. Bauke Mollema (Lotto-Soudal), Nicolas Roche (Sky), and Greipel hit the deck, and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) crashed twice.
With 96 km to go, the bunch reeled in Perichon. A crash ensued, and the peloton split into three echelons, but a regrouping occurred.
At 110 km, Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Sky, and BMC accelerated when the field turned into a crosswind. The peloton split, and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Richie Porte and Peter Kennaugh (both from Sky), Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wound up in the second echelon, which finished 14 minutes behind the leaders.
With 25 km left, a 30-rider pileup took place. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) were among the fallen, but both remounted and rejoined the lead group.
In the final km, the field prepared for the sprint. Giant-Alpecin brought John Degenkolb to the front, while Etixx-Quick Stop shepherded Cavendish to the front and Lotto-Soudal did the same for Greipel. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) jumped first, and he took Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Cavendish with him. With 300 m left, however, Greipel charged to the front and held off Sagan.
Greipel chalked his victory up to teamwork. “With 350 m to go I didn’t look so good, I was a bit boxed in,” Greipel said. “But when I got more space, I gave all I got. It was a tough finish. The km before the last 500 m wasn’t completely flat, and there was a headwind. I think it was a pure sprint. There was no leadout for any of us; it was man to man. Sagan moved up quickly at the left, I hadn’t seen him, but it’s the result at the finish line that counts.
“I could count on a strong Marcel Sieberg again, who perfectly led me to the front; he is in the shape of his life. Also Tony Gallopin and Lars Bak did more than just their job. Because of the injuries of Adam [Hansen] and Greg [Henderson] we had to change our strategy, but the team was strong as always. As a sprinter it’s a luxury to have such a dedicated team.”
Maillot jaune Martin found the stage hard. “…I tried to do my job for Cav in the finale,” Martin said. “I wanted to lead him until the last km and a half, and stay safe for yellow. I don't know what happened with the sprint after that. I did my job for Cav as well as I could and didn't take any risks. I think the team did well today going into the sprint. We avoided crashes and were always in good position. The race was super stressful. A lot of nervousness, crashing, and fighting for position. I couldn't really enjoy the day as I didn't have time to think about being in yellow. In the end of this kind of stage we were lucky to stay upright. It wasn't really a day for celebration.”
In the overall, Martin leads Chris Froome (Sky) by 0:12 and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) by 0:25. Stage 6 will be a rolling, 191.5-km ride from Abbeville to Le Havre. The stage will end with an uphill finish that will suit the puncheurs. Who will win? Sagan? Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal)? John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin)? Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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