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Mark Renshaw took HTC-Highroad's second victory at the Tour of Britain ahead of Mark Cavendish, in what could be the final one-two for the team-mates who for five years have dominated the world of road sprinting.
Neutralising a day-long escape and one final, brave individual effort from Gaudin, the HTC train once again derailed any chance of an alternative ending, bursting onto Exmouth front, arms aloft.
HOW THE RACE UNFOLDED
On a day when the General Classification could have been re-written and the gold jersey snatched from the back of Lars Boom, an angry peloton and in cohesive breakaway all contributed to the race story of Stage 5.
Stage 5 Slideshow
A route from Exeter to Exmouth which featured three categorised climbs in the first third of racing always looked to be an explosive stage.
First to attack was Jonathan Tiernan-Locke. In search of the King of the Mountains jersey, Locke was seven points behind Russ Hampton at the start of the day, but a climbing prowess which has earned him the nickname ‘Cobo' in the Rapha-Condor-Sharp ranks turned out to be prophetic.
Locke's attack shattered not only Hampton's dream of wearing the polka-dot jersey, but also many of the legs in the peloton and by the summit of Huccaby Tor - the day's third and final climb - a group of four riders were clear, chased by another nine.
By the feed station and with 90km to race, the front group of 13 containing Locke, Gerdemann, De Gendt, Huzarski, Voss, Van Hecke, Tankink, Lindeman, Rasch, Rogers, Bialoblocki, Gaudin and Sutherland had a huge six minutes on the peloton, shattered from the opening climbs.
With a combination of low winds, narrow roads and a good working group the stage was set not only for a winner, but the re-writing of the Tour leader board itself.
However, attacks within the group and others not working meant an otherwise resigned peloton were gifted a way back in - and with all sprinters back in touch with the main group, roads briefly widening and escapee legs tiring the race was back on.
Only Gaudin chose to try and stay away in the closing stages, but with 3km to go a lead out train was in force which was to deliver Mark Cavendish perfectly to the line - only he gifted the win to team-mate and long-time lead out man Mark Renshaw.
With the demise of HTC in 2012 a one-two for the duo who have dominated road racing's sprint scene from the Tour de France to Milan-San Remo was a fitting conclusion. And what better place than the Tour of Britain.
Live coverage of the race resumes tomorrow from 1015, with Stage 6 from Taunton to Wells.
1 Mark Renshaw HTC Highroad 4h 17' 38''
2 Mark Cavendish HTC Highroad st
3 Robert Förster UnitedHealthcare st
1 Lars Boom Rabobank 16h 54' 29''
2 Geraint Thomas Sky ProCycling at 0' 12''
3 Boy Van Poppel UnitedHealthcare at 0' 14''
1 Geraint Thomas Sky ProCycling 41
2 Mark Cavendish HTC Highroad 40
3 Lars Boom Rabobank 37
1 Jonathan Tiernan Locke Rapha Condor - Sharp 54
2 Russell Hampton Sigma Sport-Specialized 44
3 Stephen Cummings Sky ProCycling 25
Stage 5 Rider Feedback On Twitter
Mark Cavendish was first in to lend support to team-mate Mark Renshaw, following his controversial omission from the Australian World Championships team, before taking aim at Geraint Thomas...
"Bet there's some "Awwww shit"s coming from Cycling Australia officials now. #bestleadoutmanintheworld @Mark_Renshaw. Nice one dude."
"Bernie, about narrow roads on todays stage: 'Imagine a sheep jumps into the road.' I said @geraintthomas86 does, but not for the same reason."
Post-Race Press Confrence
Mark Renshaw - Stage Winner
"Right from the start of the day it was really tough.There were attacks from the first hour until that group got away so it was tough. I wasn't sure if it would come back together for a sprint. From around 10km to go it was all downhill and we started to ride together. The last few kilometres were quite difficult, the plan was to work for Cav and we had the roundabout at 500m to go and that sweeping right hander,I wanted to keep Cav up in the front and I was with Carl Menzies coming into the roundabout, made sure I was on the front at 250, put my head down and went from there. I was lucky i put a few lengths into Cav out of the corner. I'm really happy with victory especially as the the team ends this year."
Johnathan Tiernan-Locke - King of the Mountains
"I was a bit nervous at first with the day but it was my goal to get up the road and get maximum points for the KOM jersey. I had to go on the attack at the bottom of Haytor and keep it going. After that what ever happened was a bonus. It was a great day out. The Tour is very encouraging, it's only a couple of times a year we get the chance to ride with the World Tour guys and we are only a small continental team and we don't get that opportunity that often so it is encouraging I can do it at this level. It was a great experience riding up Haytor and having all those people and people I know cheering me on, riding the roads I know, great weather; it was a perfect stage."