Stage 5: Beauvais - Caen

Boonen finally beat McEwen, but it wasn't for first place. Oscar Freire came charging up the right side of the finishing straight and jumped around everyone with a perfectly timed burst of speed. Boonen desparately tried to catch back up and McEwen came rolling in fifth. Quickstep was leading out the sprint with 1k to go -- two leadout men with Boonen just behind -- but things started to mix up as Milram sent a rider in front of Boonen's leadout men. Credit Agricole jumped to the front of the mix, but then it was McEwen's Lotto leadout man that came bursting through on the final straight. McEwen seemed to realize that his leadout man went a little too soon and jumped over to some other wheels, but by then Boonen was already leading the charge to Robbie's left. As Robbie jumped to the left to grab some wheels, Freire jumped clear on the right with a huge burst of speed that was more than enough to hold off Boonen.

This stage was in danger of being dangerously boring. It was dominated by a two-man breakaway by Dumoulin and Schr�der with most of the excitement on the day consisting of Pineau fighting for the single third-place KOM points leftover after the two-man break went through. The peloton waited a bit long to pull the break back, which stressed the peloton and lead to a couple crashes. Discovery rider Egoi Martinez went down -- he finished but lost his fifth overall position. Another crash took down Lotto rider Vansummeren (a good week for McEwen, bad for the rest of the team) and a CSC rider.

Prediction check: * My prediction: Boonen first, McEwen second (I'll keep using it til it works) * Actual: Boonen second, McEwen fifth

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Prediction: Can Boonen go an entire Tour without a win? Boonen first, McEwen second. McEwen has been better, but it takes a bit of luck to win a sprint as well.

Mont des Fourches, Cat 4: Pineau had good support from his teammates protecting his lead in the KOM competition at the first KOM point.

Dumoulin and Schr�der are on the break in the middle of the rain.

Cote du Buquet, Cat 4: Dumoulin and Schr�der took the first two KOM spots at the second KOM point -- Wegmann beat out Pineau throught the third for a point.

Quickstep and Phonak are setting the pace

Robbie McEwen said before the race that perhaps its better to not have the yellow and they don't want to pressure Cadel Evans GC needs by making the team defend McEwen in yellow.

Zabriskie had a flat and now appears to be getting a new radio. He's been back at the team car a lot this week fetching water bottles.

Cote de St-Gregoire du-Vievre, Cat 4: Pineau got third through the third KOM point to protect his lead.

The break is about seven minutes ahead with a little less than half to go.

Johan Vansummeren of Lotto (wearing the coveted 69 number) is jumping ahead to take the remaining sprint points at St Georges du Vievre, protecting McEwen's lead. Quickstep is giving chase. Vansummeren takes it.

According to the SRM Telemetry from the race, Egoi Martinez is currently dead but producing a remarkable 239 watts. Michael Rogers and Vande Velde also producing zombie power.

Cote du Boulay, Cat 4: Pineau can finally relax this race as he took the remaining point on this climb as well. It's amusing how hard they've fought all day for a single point.

It will be dry with a tailwind at the finish. There will be a bit of crosswind just before the finish.

OLN is projecting the catch at 6k to go. The break is at 5:20.

Pont L'Eveque, final sprint point: Dumoulin and Schr�der roll through. Lotto's Vansummeren pulls the same tactic as before to take the final sprint points.

The peloton came to a stop and a Saunier Duval rider fell down. Nothing very serious.

The break is 3:36 ahead with 31k to go. This may be a tough catch for the peloton as they have not brought the break back very quickly over the past 20k.

The peloton is very strung out with a long tail due to crosswinds. Ekimov is cranking over 400W right now. The break looks like they realize they might be able to hold off the peloton as they really start cranking.

A Discovery rider went down -- Egoi Martinez (5th overall). He touched a Euskatel wheel when the field split to either side of the road to dodge some medians. Still have to see if he can even get back on the bike right now -- yes, Pavel Padrnos is escorting him to the finish. It will be hard to catch on the peloton now with the break being chased, but he'll need to latch on to hold onto that position. Discovery will need him in the mountains as they have too many leaders and not enough workers like Martinez.

10k to go, 1:03. The peloton should catch the break though it will be close to the finish. The break's only hope is that the sprint teams start gaming with one another too much.

0:15 with 5k to go. The peloton is really strung out. O'Grady is off the back nursing his injury.

0:02 -- a crash with 3.5k to go. Right near the front of the peloton on the right side. Vansummeren (Lotto) and Frank Schleck (CSC) are two of the riders down. Thor Hushovd may have been involved as well.

Back in the peloton, Boonen is riding in the five spot.

A rider from Liquigas is really accelerating the peloton. This is one of the less chaotic finishing sprints with the front of the peloton really whipping it up. 1km to go under the red kite.

Two Quickstep riders were leading Boonen , but a Milram rider jumped to the front. Now Credit Agricole and Lotto are taking over.

McEwen is riding up in the second spot with his Lotto leadout man which is a weird spot for him.

Boonen is coming up on the right past McEwen. McEwen is finding himself way too outfront and is trying to jump wheels.

Freire came up on the left. Boonen tries to grab his wheel but I think Freire takes it!

Egoi Martinez is finishing over a minute down. No longer the threat he was at the end of yesterday but more important is to keep him in shape for the mountains.

related articles: Tour de France 2006
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