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Tour de France 2013: Cavendish takes stage 5

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Tour de France 2013: Cavendish takes stage 5
Cavendish celebrates victory. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP
17:37 CEST+02:00
Britain's Mark Cavendish won stage 5 of the Tour de France on Wednesday after a sprint finish to the line at the end of a race marred by crashes. The victory was Cavendish's 24th stage victory in the Tour de France.

Isle of Man rider Mark Cavendish won stage 5 of this year's Tour de France on Wednesday  after out sprinting his rivals in the final few hundred metres of the race which began in Cagnes-sur-Mer and ended in Marseille.

Cavendish won the stage as Australian Simon Gerrans retained the race leader's yellow jersey.

Speaking to French TV after his win Cavendish said he was 'happy' and paid tribute to his team mates who had helped set him up for the spring finish.

A month after winning five stages at the Giro d'Italia, Cavendish looks to be in unstoppable form but he was quick to pay tribute to his main lead-out man, Gert Steegmans.

"Gert took me in at such a speed and I just kept that speed going. I only had to accelerate in the final 150 metres. I'm super happy with that," added Cavendish, who in recent days has been recovering from a chest infection.

"I'm still not 100 percent after being ill last week. But it's good to get the account open here at the Tour de France. The morale is good in the team and the only way to make it better is by winning more stages."

Cavendish, of the Omega-Pharma team, finished over a bike length ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in a reduced bunch sprint after they had avoided a crash inside the final kilometre.

The victory was the sprint specialist's 24th stage win in the race after lining up as one of the favourites at the start of the day.

After Tuesday's team time trial over 25 km, where Cavendish's Omega-Pharma team were pipped to the victory by 1sec by Orica-GreenEdge, Wednesday's stage which, at 228 km, is the second longest of the race.

On what was the second-longest stage (228.5 kilometre ) of the 100th edition the peloton gave the green light to an early six-man breakaway which formed in the opening kilometres after Belgian Thomas De Gendt had gone on the attack.

By the 37km mark they had built a maximum lead of nearly 13 minutes on the main peloton, which only really decided to start the chase with a little over 100km remaining.

With Gerrans in the race leader's yellow jersey, Orica-GreenEdge spent long spells leading the bunch but with a stage win on a flat home straight up for grabs the other teams with top sprinters soon began sending riders to the front to boost the chase.

Sixty kilometres from the finish the lead had halved to just over six minutes and 10km further on the lead group was split in two as De Gendt, Yukiya Arashiro and Alexey Lutsenko - a former under-23 world champion who is making his race debut with Astana - left their companions behind.

Not wanting to miss out on contending a possible stage win, Arashiro's Europcar teammate Kevin Reza, also a race debutant, dug deep to bridge the gap.

The quartet's lead over the main bunch, however, had been trimmed to 5:05 with 40km to race as riders from Argos, Lotto, and Omega-Pharma joined Orica in the hunt.

Attempts to pull clear at the front by Reza and then Arashiro came to nothing and despite a tough headwind on the Gineste climb the escapees appeared to have little chance of keeping the pack at bay.

It was on the Gineste, whose summit was 12 km from the finish, that a crash in the chasing bunch took down around a dozen riders.

The incident left no visible casualties but delayed a number of riders including German Marcel Kittel, the winner of stage one, and Orica's main sprinter Matt Goss.

The main peloton crested the summit only 19secs in arrears and despite.

Lutsenko taking Reza with him with an ambitious attack the pair were reeled in in succession with 4km to go.

The Lotto team of German sprinter Andre Greipel took command of the race inside the final kilometre after a crash further behind had stopped much of the peloton in its tracks.

Greipel, however, could only finish fifth as Cavendish made his move inside the final 250 metres to claim his first win of this year's race.

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