It was pretty much billed as a sprinters stage and for the most part, that's what it seemed like. There were attacks off the front and a break caught on and stuck, for longer than expected as the race went on. But for a bit there, it looked like the only excitement was going to be the crashes (poor Robert Gesink) and all the gossipy drama about Columbia vs the other sprinters. Which, actually, I'd like talk about. I was surprise with how diplomatic some of the Versus coverage was of the whole situation. I found the whole thing utterly hilarious, if only because it's almost like they are pitting Columbia against everyone else. While at the same time, that actually seems to be the case. Which, what.
I mean, I think Columbia's argument makes sense. What's the point of racing if no one is going to race with you. But, of course, I think that the other teams have a point too. If Columbia (read: Cav) is winning everything, then why should the other teams work? After all, Sastre said Cervelo's going to "employ a "happy, relaxed" approach" to the Tour (source). Clearly QS isn't doing anything (Boonen, what on Earth are you doing at the tour?) and, frankly, Milram's a joke. I might adore Ciolek, but he's missing as well. So, it's not really like Columbia has much competition. Though I did leave out Garmin, and I guess Tyler Farrar is the only one who has come close to challenging Cav (Thor was second at least once, too). But, of course, this was all a moot point with stage five.
Because the first real surprise of the tour decided to show up today (on a day I couldn't watch live, FAIL). That breakaway? It shrunk down a bit but, somehow, it never disappeared. Which meant that the peloton blew it. There's always one stage where this happens, though often it's on purpose. This time? I don't think so, especially considering the fact that the peloton were closing in fast as the one and only Thomas Voeckler crossed the line. How brilliant was it to see him win? It's been ages and it's about damn time that he won a stage. I'm quite proud of him! He did a good job, both in the break and with his attacks. Plus, it's always brilliant to see a French rider winning a stage of the Tour.
Aside from that, not much else changed. There's still basically no time separating Cancellara from Armstrong (ugh), but Fabian still in yellow and that's the only thing that matters. Tomorrow's stage ends in Barcelona (yay!) and should be interesting, especially if the Spanish riders want to try something special. But, for now, let's all enjoy Thomas Voeckler's win, because it's certainly awesome.Top 10 for stage five, just because:
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom 4:29:35
2 Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:07
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
5 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
6 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha
7 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team