Skip to main content

Encore McEwen, and ten Tour victories!

Image 1 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) (Image credit: AFP)
Image 2 of 68

The mad dash

The mad dash (Image credit: Jon Devich)
Image 3 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) (Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 4 of 68

The peloton

The peloton (Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 5 of 68

Egoi Martinez (Discovery)

Egoi Martinez (Discovery) (Image credit: Jon Devich)
Image 6 of 68

The Quick.Step train

The Quick.Step train (Image credit: AFP)
Image 7 of 68

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) gives his morning interview before the stage.

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) gives his morning interview before the stage. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 8 of 68

Egoi Martinez (Discovery) leads the breakaway group.

Egoi Martinez (Discovery) leads the breakaway group. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 9 of 68

Quickstep spent the day on the front controlling things for the yellow jersey.

Quickstep spent the day on the front controlling things for the yellow jersey. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 10 of 68

These guys went all out with the straw sculpting.

These guys went all out with the straw sculpting. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 11 of 68

The mad dash for the finish line.

The mad dash for the finish line. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 12 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) easily takes the win.

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) easily takes the win. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 13 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) celebrates his second win in two days.

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) celebrates his second win in two days. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
Image 14 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) at the start

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) at the start (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 15 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) exits the sign on

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) exits the sign on (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 16 of 68

The man in yellow: Tom Boonen

The man in yellow: Tom Boonen (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 17 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) a little nervous

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) a little nervous (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 18 of 68

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) adjusts the gear

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) adjusts the gear (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 19 of 68

Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) is best young rider

Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) is best young rider (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 20 of 68

Yesterday's winner Matthias Kessler

Yesterday's winner Matthias Kessler (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 21 of 68

Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) waits for the start

Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) waits for the start (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 22 of 68

Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) with the Italian flag before the start of stage 4

Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) with the Italian flag before the start of stage 4 (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 23 of 68

Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) hopes for an Italian world cup win

Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) hopes for an Italian world cup win (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 24 of 68

Discovery Channel still has the team classification

Discovery Channel still has the team classification (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 25 of 68

Savoldelli and Popovych are two of Discovery's key men

Savoldelli and Popovych are two of Discovery's key men (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 26 of 68

Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) signs autographs

Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) signs autographs (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 27 of 68

David Millar (Saunier Duval) signs autographs

David Millar (Saunier Duval) signs autographs (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 28 of 68

Jaja and EZ shake hands

Jaja and EZ shake hands (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 29 of 68

The peloton is a sea of colour

The peloton is a sea of colour (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 30 of 68

The peloton at the start

The peloton at the start (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 31 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) heads for the line

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) heads for the line (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 32 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the stage

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the stage (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 33 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) hands raised

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) hands raised (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 34 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) can't believe how much we won by

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) can't believe how much we won by (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 35 of 68

Oh yeah! McEwen celebrates

Oh yeah! McEwen celebrates (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 36 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) celebrates

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) celebrates (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 37 of 68

Boonen checks where Bennati finished

Boonen checks where Bennati finished (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 38 of 68

Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) did a good job for his team today, but no win

Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) did a good job for his team today, but no win (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 39 of 68

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) post stage

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) post stage (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 40 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) escorted to the podium

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) escorted to the podium (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 41 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) gives another V

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) gives another V (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 42 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) is pretty happy

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) is pretty happy (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 43 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) smiles on the podium

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) smiles on the podium (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 44 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) waves to the crowd

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) waves to the crowd (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 45 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) puts on his second maillot jaune

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) puts on his second maillot jaune (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 46 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) adjusts the jersey

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) adjusts the jersey (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 47 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) waves his lion

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) waves his lion (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 48 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) grins in the yellow

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) grins in the yellow (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 49 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) back in the green

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) back in the green (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 50 of 68

Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) on the podium as best young rider

Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) on the podium as best young rider (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 51 of 68

Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) was a happy man after his team's victory last night in the soccer

Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) was a happy man after his team's victory last night in the soccer (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 52 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) in his first maillot jaune

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) in his first maillot jaune (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 53 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) leads Johan Vansummeren

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) leads Johan Vansummeren (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 54 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) was king for a day

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) was king for a day (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 55 of 68

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) rides through Belgium in the maillot jaune

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) rides through Belgium in the maillot jaune (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 56 of 68

Boonen and Bennati rivals for the green

Boonen and Bennati rivals for the green (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 57 of 68

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) wearing green today

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) wearing green today (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 58 of 68

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) collects a musette

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) collects a musette (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 59 of 68

Are you lookin' at me?

Are you lookin' at me? (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 60 of 68

The peloton in the sunshine

The peloton in the sunshine (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 61 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) had plenty of time to celebrate

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) had plenty of time to celebrate (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 62 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the sprint in St Quentin

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the sprint in St Quentin (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 63 of 68

Erik Zabel (Milram) an Italian supporter?

Erik Zabel (Milram) an Italian supporter? (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 64 of 68

Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel) powers the breakaway

Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel) powers the breakaway (Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 65 of 68

Cows watch the Tour with at least a passing interest

Cows watch the Tour with at least a passing interest (Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 66 of 68

The Quick.Step train leading the bunch

The Quick.Step train leading the bunch (Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 67 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) was clearly the best today

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) was clearly the best today (Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 68 of 68

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) celebrates a huge win in St Quentin

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) celebrates a huge win in St Quentin (Image credit: AFP Photo)

Maillot jaune stays put - but for how long?

A straight, 1,200 metre slightly uphill finish on Saint-Quentin's Boulevard Gambetta led many pundits to believe this would be maillot jaune Tom Boonen's day. But with more push and shove than you could poke a stick at, the Tour tables began turning in favour of Robbie McEwen, who has an uncanny knack of safeguarding himself in his own little world until he crosses the line.

And that's exactly what happened today.

With the last of the early break caught less than two kilometres from the finish, a grande bagarre between the sprinters' teams ensued. Under the flamme rouge, though, the bigger boys appeared to grow scared of what was happening around them and focused more on dodging disaster - but pocket rocket Robbie put the power through the pedals to open a massive three bike-length gap by the finish, taking his tenth Tour de France stage victory.

"I saw in the road book that this finish suited me perfectly to my characteristics as a sprinter," began McEwen, "being slightly uphill and with a slight corner to the left with 200 metres to go.

"I had a tactic in my head already since last Wednesday for this sprint. I told [Gert] Steegmans what we would do with about 100 kilometres to go. I told him just to keep listening to me, and just wait for me to give him the signal.

"He almost took off too early, but I got him back on the rails. We waited until 450 metres to go and from then, we came off the [other's] wheels. We went flat out, and imagined that the finish line was at 200 metres to go. He did exactly to the letter what I said. It made it simple for me, but I didn't dare to look around. Now I saw on TV that there was nobody in the neighbourhood. I want to dedicate this victory to Freddy [Rodriguez], who had to abandon yesterday."

A distant second and third were Caisse d'Epargne's Isaac Galvez and three-time world champion Oscar Freire; Hushovd and Boonen rounded out the top five until the former's irregular sprinting cost him his place. Consequently, we now find another change in the maillot vert - with McEwen enjoying his second spell in green in as many days.

"So much can happen in one day," said the 34 year-old Queenslander. "For example yesterday, I didn't get any points while others did take some, but I've taken back the jersey today. Hushovd came across today like what happened to me last year; he got disqualified. It shows you how quickly a green jersey dream can fade away."

Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) was one of five riders in today's day-long escape, and told Cyclingnews that even though a lot of hard work amounted to nothing, he was satisfied with his efforts.

"It was the plan with the team this morning to be in the break," said Wiggins. "I shouldn't spare my energy for the time trial of Saturday because I don't have a chance in a big race like this. I'll go flat out, but normally it will be too hard for me. The prologue was alright, although the second half was better for me than the first half.

"I knew we would never stay away. It would be a matter of time before Quickstep brought us back although it surprised me that we were caught that late."

After four changes in four days, the maillot jaune stays put, continuing to rest on Boonen's broad shoulders. Although it's by no means a safe place; there's still just a second that separates him from T-Mobile's Michael Rogers, with George Hincapie and Thor Hushovd no more than seven seconds away.

In this opening week, however, it's all about chasing green. That's all McEwen's thinking about - as well as balancing his stage victories at the Giro and Tour - even though he's got a real shot of yellow if things keep going his way.

"I hope to bring it level in this Tour de France, but I will be happy as well if it develops into a 11-14 balance. We're just going to keep trying to win stages and in that way I can keep gathering points for the green jersey," McEwen said.

How it unfolded

On a cooler day than Tuesday's ovenlike conditions, a Tour peloton of 172 riders headed west under sunny skies with temps in the upper twenties from Huy, located in south-central Belgium.

Maillot a pois Jerome Pineau took the GPM points after 13km of racing ahead of De la Fuente and Wegmann. After an attack that contained maillot jaune Boonen, Discovery Channel's Egoi Martinez made a countermove 18.5km past Ohey and was joined by three other riders by the 21km mark. The front quartet was Wiggins (Cofidis), Mengin (Francaise de Jeux), Lefevre (Bouyges Telecom) and Coutouly (Agritubel). The lead grew quickly as once again, the depeleted Tour de France peloton wasn't up to a big bagarre and let the break go.

After 37km near Yvoir, scene of the 1968 world championships, the break had gained 3' and Martinez was virtual maillot jaune, while 38.1km were raced in the first hour. Maillot jaune Boonen's Quick.Step-Innergetic squad was riding tempo on the front of the peloton. Atop the Cat 4 Cote de Falaen after 57.5km, it was the diminutive Lefevre who took the GPM ahead of Martinez, with the peloton trailing 4'30" behind.

The pace was steady both in the break and in the peloton and after two hours of racing, the break was nearing Phillipeville and the average speed after two hours was 38.9km/h. At the feed zone in Cerfontaine after 84km, the breaks lead was almost 5', but one the peloton passed through, Quick.Step-Innergetic picked up the pace.

At the first intermediate sprint in Beaumont after 103km, Discovery Channel's Egoi Martinez took the honours over Lefevre. The break was just 2km from the French border, but the parcours turned due south, then southeast to head over the border 11km later. There were now 90km to the finish in and the break rode 41.8km in hour 3, with the overall average speed at 39.6km/h. The Quick.Step-Innergetic led peloton was riding faster now and the breaks lead was down to 4'. Across the flat green farmlands of northern France, the pursuit match was on as the break tried to make it to Saint-Quentin ahead of the sprinters.

At the second intermediate sprint in Sains-du-Nord after 135.5km, it was Martinez ahead of Mengin, with the lead just 3'30" and Davitamon-Lotto now in the chase with Quick.Step-Innergetic and 71km to go. 21km later in Le Nouvion-En-Theriade with 50km to race, the break's lead was 2'30" as the sprinters teams, now including the Milram milkmen cranked up the chase pace behind.

With 30km to race in the tiny village of Grand-Verly, Lampre-Fondital had joined the chase and the break was doomed as their margin was now just at 2'. At the day's third and final intermediate sprints in Bernot after 188.0km, Martinez made it a clean sweep ahead of Lefevre and the peloton was rolling up fast, just 1'15" behind. With 15km to go, Isaac Galvez (Caisse d'Epargne-Iles Balears) and Iban Mayo (Eukaltel-Euskadi) hit the deck, but both got back in the peloton after a 5km chase.

With 12km to go, the break split, with Martinez, Lefevre and Coutouly dumping Wiggins and Mengin. At 7km to go, Wiggins and Mengin were swallowed up by the Liquigas-Bianchi peloton, while the three front riders still had a gap of 30".

The three riders looked like they might have a chance to come in ahead of the fast-closing peloton until Lefevre attacked the break with 3km to go and ruined the collaboration. They were caught with 1.5km to go and Team Milram led the charge into the final kilometre. Then Quick.Step-Innergetic took over and suddenly Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen made his move up the centre of the road after a huge leadout from Gert Steegmans, and rode a brilliant sprint to win his 10th career Tour de France stage, while Quick.Step-Innergetic's maillot jaune Tom Boonen was 5th, but still kept his race lead.

Stage 5 - Thursday, July 6: Beauvais-Caen, 225 km

After almost a week of racing, there are bound to be some tired legs in Le Tour and Stage 5 across the the lumpy, bumpy little roads of Normandy to Caen, the home of tasty tripe and le Trou Normand. One could see a break with newly crowned French champ Flo Brard staving off the onslaught of sprinters' teams in the finale. But not likely.

Latest on Cyclingnews