Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) showed blistering speed and astonishing bike handling skills in the final kilometers of stage five of the Tour de France.
The German sprinter was right behind Tyler Farrar when the Garmin-Sharp rider went down at full speed. In perhaps the most amazing display of reflexes and bike handling since Lance Armstrong cut through a hayfield, Greipel defied several laws of gravity and terminal velocity to stay upright.
Greipel braked hard, his rear wheel skidded sideways left, then over-corrected right, sliding into the fallen Farrar. Even in slow motion the maneuver was unbelievable, as Greipel’s left leg came flying out, almost hitting Farrah’s back, before he regained his balance, clipping back in, catching the other sprinters and winning the stage over Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Juan Jose Hadeo of Saxo-Tink0. Astonishing times one hundred.
“I’m happy because I won another stage in the Tour de France,” said Greipel. “There was a bit of a crash and I was behind it at 3k to go, but Greg Henderson was waiting for me.” “A bit of a crash” has to go down as one of the great Tour understatements of all time. Greipel showed more balance and reflexes than several Cirque de Soleil high wire acts.
If the green jersey competition for best sprinter awarded bonus points for bike handling skills, then the competition would be over now. While Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale) is known as a superb bike handler, Greipel stunned everyone with his crash proof moves.
Sagan himself was a victim of the Farrar chain reaction, landing hard on his left side and rolling into the sidewalk. After the stage, Farrar limped his way to the Argos-Shimano bus looking for their sprinter Tom Veelers. The battling Buddhist is getting pretty fed up with hitting the deck this tour and angrily shouted “You don’t do that to somebody.” He was mad — not Cavendish rabid dog mad — but one more crash and Farrar will snap.
That alone would have been enough to keep people talking but after the amazing escape, Greipel picked up his leadoutman Greg Henderson and timed his sprint to absolute perfection. Ast the four man break was sweep up in the final few hundred meters, Goss made appeared to be the winning move, blasting ahead, the line coming fast. Too early, too anxious. Greipel swept past to take a brilliant brilliant win in Saint Quentin, his second of this Tour.
In an absolute rarity for a flat sprinters stage in Le Grand Shindig, the breakaway almost pulled out a miracle. Matthieu Lagadnous (FDJ-BigMat), Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis) and Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun) jumped three kilometers into the start and nearly did the unthinkable. Ghyselinck made a final mad, exhausted dash to the line but was caught 100 meters short. Our heart goes out to you Cofidis tough guy.
“Somehow I stayed on my bike,” said Greipel. This will be a Tour highlight clip for the next ten years. Twisted Spoke is throwing an entire hat box of chapeaux his way. This was a thrilla from the Gorilla.