July 11, 2002
Tour update - stage 5
Estonia's Jaan Kirsipuu (probably best known for being the only person who wasn't Lance Armstrong to wear the yellow jersey in 1999) won the stage by outsprinting the other 4 riders who had broken away, and managing to hold the peloton off by 20 secs at the end of the stage.
It was an interesting demonstration of some of the tactics that play out in a long stage race....
US Postal's Viatcheslav Ekimov and Floyd Landis, close to the overall lead, both got involved in early breakways, forcing the ONCE team of leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano to chase the breaks down.
When, with 50 miles to ride, Kirsipuu, Ludo Dierckxsens, Michael Sandstod, Stefano Casagranda, and Christophe Edaleine broke away, they were allowed to extend their lead right up until Edaleine became the "leader on the road" -- he led the yellow jersey by more time than he trailed him by in the overall standings (almost 5 minutes). At that point, the ONCE team started closing down the break.
Once it became clear that the 5-man group wouldn't threaten the overall leaders, the sprinters' teams took over the lead of the peloton, in an attempt to bring the break back and set up a sprint finish. The 5-man band was electric, and held off the 182-man peloton by about 20 secs.
Overall standings changed very little:
1) Gonzalez de Galdeano 19:05:56
2) Joseba Beloki at 4 secs
3) Lance Armstrong at 7 secs
Tom Steels, the Belgian national champion with 9 career stage wins (including back-to-back wins in 1999 and 2000), became the first rider to abandon; his team director said he was working all-out just to stay with the peloton.
Later, Italy's Marco Pinotti had to abandon after a crash that banged up his face.
If you've read this far, you might enjoy my Tour 2002 archive.