5th Stage 13 April : Mamers-Le Mans (188,8 km)
A new name has been added to the palmares of the Circuit de la Sarthe. The man who stood out as the favourite from the start has lived up to his reputation and taken an impressive victory.
Andreas Klöden (Astana) was not content with proving a point over the 8.8 kilometre Time Trial but wanted to keep the Maillot Jaune until the finish, a jersey which he defended with some panache over the two final hilly stages of the 55th édition. With Paolo Savoldelli as domestique de luxe, Andreas Klöden faced one final test today between Mamers and Le Mans (188,8 km), notable with four climbs of the mur de Gazonfier (300 mètres à 18 %) in the last 25 kilometres of the race.
On a day of low lying cloud and almost oppressive climate the day started much to plan. After 45 kilometres of racing the local teams and riders made the break of the day with 5 riders trying to outpace the peloton. Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r Prévoyance), and once again Stéphane Pétilleau (Bretagne-Armor Lux), Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) and Nicolas Roche (Crédit Agricole). This quintet de gained a 2 minute advantage but like yesterday the peloton under Astana control held that distance.
With the Astana Team bearing down two familiar figures again refused to give up the fight. Stéphane Pétilleau and Nicoas Roche, both riders who have been aggressive throughout the race made one last throw of the dice as the race reached its climax.
The two escapees made it to the first climb of the côte de Gazonfier but their moments of glory were soon to end. With 10 kilomètres to the finish the race was all back together for the final climbs of the côte de Gazonfier. Cheered on by the big crowd the man from le Mans, Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom) mad several attempts to break clear. However there was no sympathy for the former world champion and thirty riders approached the finish for a mass sprint on the streets of Mans.
Former winner of Cholet-Pays de Loire, Australian Chris Sutton (Cofidis) made a perfectly timed sprint ahead of Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner) and Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ceremica Flaminia).
With three months to go to the Tour de France, Andreas Klöden is getting into a habit of wearing the Maillot Jaune...
Stéphane Pétilleau won the king of the mountains competition, Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux), the track star had an excellent race winning the young riders competition, while Robert Froster won the points competition.
Results Stage 5
1. Chris Sutton (AUS, Cofidis) les 188,8 km en 4h13'52" (44,6 km/h)
2. Markus Zberg (SUI, Gerolsteiner) m.t.
3. Mikhaylo Khalilov (UKR, Ceremica Flaminia) m.t.
4. Simon Gerrans (AUS, Ag2r Prévoyance) m.t.
5. Jonathan Hivert (FRA, Crédit Agricole) m.t.
6. Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA, Française des Jeux) m.t.
7. Damien Monier (FRA, Cofidis) m.t.
8. Mattei Priamo (ITA, Panaria-Navigare) m.t.
9. Maximiliano Richeze (ARG, Panaria-Navigare) m.t.
10. Paul Martens (PBS, Skil-Shimano) m.t.
Final General Classification
1. Andreas Klöden (ALL, Astana) en 15h58'47"
2. Nicolas Vogondy (FRA, Agritubel) à 4 sec.
3. Vladimir Duma (UKR, Ceramica Flaminia) à 10 sec.
4. Mathieu Ladagnous (FRA, Française des Jeux) à 13 sec.
5. Michael Albasini (SUI, Liquigas) à 15 sec.
6. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA, Liquigas) à 16 sec.
7. Benoît Vaugrenard (FRA, Française des Jeux) à 20 sec.
8. Maryan Hary (FRA, Cofidis) à 23 sec.
9. Markus Zberg (SUI, Gerolsteiner) m.t.
10. Markus Fothen (ALL, Gerolsteiner) à 29 sec.