Tour de France: Mark Cavendish defies illness to claim 24th stage win in Marseille
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 04/07/13 11:51am
Mark Cavendish claimed his first win of this year's race
Mark Cavendish shrugged off illness to sprint to his 24th win at the Tour de France with a dominant display on stage five in Marseille.
The 28-year-old Briton has been suffering from bronchitis but had enough strength to claim his maiden victory in this year's race, holding off Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) in second and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in third.
The result also catapulted him up to second place in the points classification, 35 points behind leader Sagan and level with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) on 76 points.
Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) crossed the line safely in the peloton to retain the leader's yellow jersey, while race favourite Chris Froome (Team Sky) also avoided a late crash to stay seventh overall.
Having been caught up in stage one's pile-up and missed out on the subsequent sprint, Cavendish made amends with textbook performance at the end of a 228.5km day in the south of France.
Closing in on history
His Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team caught the last survivors of the stage's breakaway 4km from the line and safely negotiated a series of tight bends to deliver the Manxman to the 500m-to-go banner in pole position.
With Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) on his right shoulder, Cavendish, who has been on medication, launched his sprint early and carried enough pace to resist the late surges of Boasson Hagen and Sagan, with Greipel having to settle for fourth.
The win was Cavendish's 42nd Grand Tour stage victory and sees him move level with French legend Bernard Hinault in the all-time list. Belgian great Eddy Merckx holds the record with 64.
Merckx also still leads the way in Tour stage wins, with 34, but Cavendish is now just ten off that mark and his fine form hinted he cut eat further into that deficit during this year's race.
Breakaway falls short
Stage five was the second longest of the 100th edition, taking the riders from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille on a rolling route containing four categorised climbs and a final, uncategorised climb 12.5km from the finish.
Six breakaway riders became four with 50km to go and when they still had a lead of 2min 50sec with 25km remaining, it became nip and tuck as to whether they would manage to avoid being caught. However, the sprint teams soon stepped up the pace on the front of the peloton and the gap quickly plummeted.
After all of the sprinters had safely crested the final climb, the Cole de la Gineste, still at the head of the race, escapees Kevin Reza (Europcar) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) mounted one last bid to stay clear, but they were eventually swept up with 5km and 4km to go respectively as Omega Pharma - Quick-Step continued to set a fierce speed on the front.
With a couple of tricky corners then safely negotiated, it was left to Cavendish to cap a flawless showing from the Belgian team and further cement his status as the world's No 1 sprinter.
Results to follow
Stage five result
1 Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 5:31:51
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky, same time
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st
4 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol, st
5 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st
7 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, st
8 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit) Garmin-Sharp, st
9 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Sojasun, st
10 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, st
28 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE, 18:19:15
2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE, same time
3 Michael Albasini (Sui) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1sec
5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky, +3
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, +3
8 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +3
9 Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff, +9
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff, +9
- Green (points classification): Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
- Polka dot (mountains classification): Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar
- White (best young rider): Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step