• Wed July 08 2009
  • Posted Jul 8, 2009
PERPIGNAN, France - Thomas Voeckler of France claimed a solo victory Wednesday in the fifth stage of the Tour de France, a 122-mile ride from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan. Following a long breakaway, Voeckler made his move 3.1 miles from the finish to escape from a small group of riders and cross the finish line by himself. Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland retained the yellow leader’s jersey. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is second overall, by a fraction of a second, with Astana teammate Alberto Contador of Spain 19 seconds back in third. “I was chasing that victory for such a long time,” Voeckler said. “By superstition, I didn’t want to announce that my objective was to win a stage. When I’m breaking away, I often try to be positive but today I never believed I could win. “It was only 300 meters out that I started to believe.” Mikhail Ignatiev finished second in the stage, while Mark Cavendish won the peloton’s sprint and finished in third place, 7 seconds back. Voeckler, who broke his collarbone earlier this season, and five other riders — Ignatiev, Anthony Geslin, Yauheni Hutarovich, Marcin Sapa and Albert Timmer — broke away after just 7½ miles and left the rest of the field trying to catch up. With the wind blowing sideways along the Mediterranean see, the peloton pumped up the speed about 35 miles from the line behind the push of Saxo Bank and Columbia riders. The peloton ended up breaking into three pieces and riders were scattered, but none of the favorites were trapped except Giro d’Italia winner Denis Menchov of Russia. As the pace eased momentarily, the second peloton caught up with the first. Cavendish and his Columbia teammates, following their disappointing fifth place in the team time trial, moved up to the front of the peloton, trying in vain to reduce the gap with the six breakaway riders. Less than four miles from the finish, the leading group was reduced to four riders following an attack from Ignatiev, a track specialist making his Tour debut. Voeckler, who wore the yellow jersey for nine days in 2004, then bolted out of a roundabout and went all out to the line.

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