With its eight categorised climbs stage five was not the ideal day for Mark Cavendish. The T-Mobile rider finished 181st. Prior to the start, though, he said that he was feeling better after his crashes on Sunday and Monday and hoped to do something before withdrawing from the race.
"I am feeling a bit better," he said at the sign on area. "Yesterday was the worst day, it often is two days after a crash. But today I feel a lot better."
He placed ninth on stage three and 10th on stage four. He described how the latter finish evolved. "Yesterday was really fast, but there was not a dominant train like there was before with teams like Milram. There was a big fight behind. There was a couple of leadout men for every sprinter and nobody wanted to go too early. You could see from some of the positions [that it was unusual] - like even Robbie [McEwen] was 16th.
"It wasn't hectic, it wasn't too dangerous, it was just a strange finish.
"Bernhard [Eisel - ed.] led me out. The team were there, pulling for me at the end. It was just unfortunate it didn't work out better. Most of the guys gave 100%. Bernhard went with me on his wheel, but we were just too far back."
Cavendish is a first year professional and is riding his debut Tour. "I can't say I am that surprised by the size of the race," he said. "I have seen it on the telly. It is just a bit surreal to be here, though.
"It is good. I have been ninth and 10th in the past two days and been best young rider. It bodes well, but I would have liked to have done something more in the last three days. The team has been brilliant, they have given me a lot of support. I would like to repay them back with a stage win or something. I hope tomorrow [Friday] works out well, we will see how it goes.
"I think I should be here until the rest day. I am enjoying it so much I want to carry on but we will see what is the best thing for me." SS