Filippo Pozzato took a very fast sprint finish into Autun on Stage 5 of the Tour de France. The final slightly uphill finish was so fast that speeds reached up to 50mph. That is some fast turning of the pedals.
The stage was being billed as a hilly challenge that would disrupt the sprinteres and possibly change the Yellow Jersey. The long break that included new Polka Dot wearer Sylvain Chavanel helped to keep things together for most of the race. With sprinteres getting shelled in the final climbs to the finish a select group of the peloton roared in for the finish. Pozzato and other “climbing” sprinters were gunning for the finish including Oscar Friere and Alessandro Ballan. This is the second stage win for the Italian who moved out of the shadow of Tom Boonen at Quick Step.
The big story of the day was the crash involving Alexandre Vinokourov. The heavy Tour favorite was a victim of a badly timed crash. Other favorites such as Andreas Kloden, Iban Mayo and Carlos Sastre were seen fighting their was back from crashes or other problems. Each were able to bridge back in time,but Vino’s crash was particular bad since he crashed at a time when the peloton was in full roar to the finish. It was quite a site to see seven Astana men forming a train to lead Vino back to the pack passing shelled riders and cars along the course. One by one each of the Astana men blew up and coasted in until there was just Vino and his team car. Vino did get into a group which contained Tom Boonen where he was helped along the way to the finish.
The One minute plus deficit before any great challenge is not insurmountable. Many of Vino’s rivals will cleebrate just a little bit as they have a little extra time on the favorite. Kloden can also make his case for Team leadership since he is better placed than most of the favorites in the peloton. Either way Astana was a victim of several crashes today.