Cavendish takes Tour stage as crash mars finale

MARSEILLE, France, (Reuters) – Mark Cavendish claimed his 24th Tour de France victory when the Briton won the fifth stage with a perfect sprint as the end game was marred by a huge crash yesterday.

Cavendish, who has had bronchitis, was led out by his team mates in the finale and delivered in the home straight to beat Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen and Slovakian Peter Sagan.

“We are very happy, we had targeted this stage. A lot of good sprinters won in Marseille and Mark, who loves the history of cycling, wanted to have his name associated with Marseille,” Omega Pharma-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere told reporters.

Cavendish is now 10 shy of Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins.

“I’m super happy,” said Manxman Cavendish. “Now the pressure’s kind of off and hopefully it has started the ball rolling.”

Australian Simon Gerrans retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey by finishing in the main bunch, which was thrown into chaos when France’s Nacer Bouhanni crashed in the final metres.

American Tejay van Garderen, who won the white jersey for the best young rider and had general classification ambitions despite being Cadel Evans’s lieutenant at BMC, hit the deck.

Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck, fourth in last year’s race, also crashed.

There was no immediate report from their respective teams on their condition.

Today’s sixth stage is a 176.5-km ride from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier.

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