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An emotional Mark Cavendish broke down in tears after winning the fifth stage of the Tour de France on the mostly flat 187.5-kilometre trek from Epernay to Montargis in France's 'champagne' region on Thursday.
The British sprinter registered his first stage victory in this year's race.
From the vintage of setting at the Champagne countryside, Mark Cavendish and his fellow Team HTC-Columbia riders planned the British sprinter's renaissance in this year's race. Cavendish, who won six stages last year and four in 2008, had suffered in the two sprint finishes held on the Tour so far, both won by Italy's Alessandro Petacchi, which seemed to plunge the 25-year-old Isle of Man rider deeper into despair.
He literally hit the ground in the first stage in Brussels after a crash on one of the final corners which was attributed to him, and then hit a mental wall in the finale in Reims in stage four when he could not react to Petacchi's attack.
But in Thursday's searing heat, he got it right. The Columbia gameplan worked to perfection in a tricky finale full of curves, turns and corners.
The Garmin team-mates of American Tyler Farrar led the way into the final stretch - but Cavendish's Australian rocket-launcher Mark Renshaw took over, his leader in his wheel. While Petacchi, Farrar and green-jersey holder Thor Hushovd of Norway were suddenly stuck in the pack, there was no stopping Cavendish, who went on to win in a time of four hours, 30 minutes and 50 seconds. In the overall standings, Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara retained the leader's yellow jersey, and his 23-second lead over Briton Geraint Thomas.
- Petacchi wins 4th stage of Tour de France 2010-07-08