Cavendish takes Stage 5 win after sprint finish
Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish wins Stage 5 of the Tour de France
Omega Pharma Quick-Step's Mark Cavendish won a sprint finish on Stage Five to claim his 24th Tour de France stage victory.
The former-Olympian pipped Team Sky's Edvald Boasson-Hagen into second, while Cannondale's Peter Sagan came home in third. Orica GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans holds on to the yellow jersey.
The 228.5km stage from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille saw six riders form a breakaway early. Their lead stretched to 12 minutes after 40km, before the peloton began to reel them in.
The stage was always expected to end up in a sprint finish, with Orica GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans hoping to hang on to yellow by surviving the four climbs and avoiding trouble at the end.
For a brief time it looked like the breakaway had a chance of surviving, but the peloton - driven by the sprinters - picked up the pace.
Riders dropped off the front until only Alexey Lutsenko and Kévin Reza remained with 5km to go. They were swiftly swept away, and the sprinters jostled into position heading down the final straight.
But Cavendish secured his 24th Tour de France stage win in clinical style, timing his move to perfection after a superb lead out from Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammates including Gert Steegmans.
Only Eddy Merckx, Andre Leducq and Bernard Hinault have won more stages than the British rider in Tour history now.
Gerrans continues to lead the General Classification of the Tour de France after Stage 5, with Team Sky's Chris Froome three seconds back in seventh.
The 176km Stage 6 from Aix to Montpellier takes place tomorrow (Thursday 4th July).