|July 11 - stage 5: Soissons - Rouen 198 km
With a parcours that is as flat as can be today, look for the sprinters' teams to rule the road, though the Daily Peloton's own Podofdonny warns that wind could play it's part on the long, straight, exposed roads where echelons could form to split the field.
The arrival in Rouen is a fast downhill.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano begins the day in yellow, but Director Sportif Manolo Sainz says they will not work themselves to death in defense of the lead.
The Daily Peloton's live coverage begins at 6:30 am PST!
6:35 am PST - As we join the action, A breakaway of five men has a 4'12" lead on the peloton: Kirsipuu(AG2R), Sandstod (CSC - Tiscali), Dierckxsens (Lampre), Casagrande (ALessio) and (Jean Delatour's) Edaleine with Edaleine being the best placed rider in the break, in 111th place at the start of the day. There are 60km left to ride and the stage has been fast.
Belgian champion Tom Steels abandoned today in the feed zone.
6:45 am PST - The lead has dropped only slightly, to 4'06".
6:50 am PST - Lotto is riding at the front for their sprinter, Robbie McEwen. The lead has jumped up to 4'40"
6:55 am PST - Credit Agricole has joined Lotto at the front, and the lead is coming back down, standing now at 4'30". Passing through the sprint point, it was Sanstod, Casagrande and Kirsipuu without a contest.
Stuart O'Grady is riding near the front, and looks to be feeling better today.
7:05 am PST - In the last 6 km, they have knocked off the 1/2 a minute and the lead drops back down to 4'05". The break continues to work together, but the main field is picking up the pace.
Paul reports that Ludo Dierckxsens nickname amongst the English speaking riders is "popeye."
7:09 am PST - A small rise in the road has cut the break down to 3'30", and ONCE has some representation at the head of the group. Credit Agricole's Sebastian Hinault is riding up through the group with a jerseyfull of bottles.
7:12 am PST - It's starting to look good for this breakaway, with no improvement in the last timecheck.
7:17 am PST - The break down to 3'09", it could be turning around witht he pace coming up pretty seriously. If they catch the leaders, it will be close.
The last Spaniard to wear the maillot jaune was Miguel Indurain in 1995, so Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano joins some good company!
7:20 am PST - 25km to go, the lead is fairly steady. This break could stay away at 3'00"!
7:25 am PST - 2'35" with 22km to go. It will be a close one.
Word is that Oscar Friere's hotel room was burglarized last night, with the theif stealing his wallet and cell phone, but caught in the lobby by the Mapei team manager.
Rik Verbrugghe is having a moment with the race doctor, but now he's riding back to the peloton.
7:31 am PST - A pile up near the back has left Marco Pinotti of Lampre motionless on the road. Everyone else seems to be back on his bike...
7:34 am PST - Didier Rous and another rider are breaking away from the peloton now. That crash did not involve so many as 24 riders... my apologies, dear readers!
7:39 am PST - The break is down to 1'55". The breaking away is off the back, it seems, with many riders caught off the back, including Laurent Brochard and Didier Rous. They are not off the front. Other riders involved in the crash are Botcharvo, Seignuer, Hunter, Laiseka, Extebarria...
The lead is down to 1'40".
Poor Marco Pinotti has been taken to the hospital in Rouen.
7:45 am PST with 6km to the finish, the break is down to 1'07"! Telecom has taken a stronger interest in the chase.
7:47 am PST The breakaway riders are tightening up their shoes. The main field is right on their tails, the peloton has passed the 5km mark and are on the descent into Rouen.
The break is not working as cohesively, and the peloton is bearing down.
7:49 am PST - 45" at 3km. This break is looking good... Kirsipuu should be in good shape. Casagrande is sitting on the back, he could challenge... and he has made his move! Kirsipuu is hot after him! Inside the final km with 30" Kirsipuu is in Casagrande slipstream.
Sanstod is working hard... Dierckxsens is taking him on but Kirsipuu has it.
Kirsipuu takes the stage.
7:53 am PST - Kirsipuu takes his third stage victory in the Tour de France. Robbie McEwen bests Zabel in the field sprint, closing his gap to the green jersey.
7:58 am PST - The riders caught behind the crash are just coming in. Bad luck for Euskatel, David Extebarria loses 7.5 minutes after being involve in that pile up. Marco Pinotti had facial injuries and has gone to the hospital by ambulance.
Zabel will keep the green, but McEwen is now only one point behind. No significant changes in the leaderboard.
The top three today are Kirsipuu, Sanstod and Dierckxsens, followed by Casagrande, Edaliane and McEwen.
8:05 am PST - Rik Verbrugghe is only now finishing, 13 minutes down. He must be quite ill.
1 KIRSIPUU Jaan EST A2R 4h 13' 33"
2 SANDSTOD Michael DEN CST 00"
3 DIERCKXSENS LudoBEL LAM 00"
4 CASAGRANDA StefanoITA ALS 03"
5 EDALEINE Christophe FRA DEL 08"
6 MC EWEN Robbie AUS LOT 33"
7 COOKE Baden AUS FDJ 33"
8 O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A 00' 33"
9 ZABEL Erik GER TEL 33"
10 HAUPTMAN Andrej SLO TAC 33"
11 PIZIKS Arvis LTU CST 33"
12 SVORADA Jan SLO LAM 33"
13 MATTAN Nico BEL COF 33"
14 HUNTER Robert RSA MAP 33"
15 PAGLIARINI Luciano BRA LAM 33"
16 MAGNIEN Emmanuel FRA BJR 33"
17 SIMON François FRA BJR 33"
18 GUTIERREZ José Enrique ESP KEL 33"
19 PENA Victor Hugo COL USP 33"
20 BROCHARD Laurent FRA DEL 33"
Top 10 GC After Stage 5
1 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano SPA ONCE-Eroski 19.05.56
2 Joseba Beloki SPA ONCE-Eroski 0.04
3 Lance Armstrong USA USPS 0.07
4 Jörg Jaksche GER ONCE-Eroski 0.12
5 Abraham Olano SPA ONCE-Eroski 0.22
6 Roberto Heras Hernandez SPA USPS 0.25
7 Isidro Nozal SPA ONCE-Eroski 0.27
8 José Azevedo POR ONCE-Eroski 0.28
9 George Hincapie USA USPS
10 Marcos A.Serrano SPA ONCE-Eroski 0.30