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  Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Kirsipuu storms to Tour glory
Kirsipuu was too strong for Sandstod
Kirsipuu (l) was too strong for his rivals on the line


Jaan Kirsipuu beat off four fellow breakaway riders and the chasing peloton to win stage five of the Tour de France.

The Estonian rider stormed into a five-man break after an hour-and-a-half, joined by Stefano Casagrande, Michael Sandstod, Ludo Dierckxsens and Christophe Edaleine.

Sandstod, the Danish national champion, broke early in a bid for the line but did not have the strength to keep off Kirsipuu, on paper the best sprinter of the quintet.

Afterwards the stage winner said: "The sprint was really hard because everybody sped up in the last kilometre."

The five riders had initially looked on course to be caught by the peloton but a crash 15 kilometres from the finish curtailed their speed.

Gonzalez de Galdeano held on to yellow
Gonzalez de Galdeano held on to yellow

That accident, towards the back of the field, left Lampre-Daikin rider Marco Pinotti unconscious.

He was taken to hospital in Rouen where intitial reports suggested he had sustained facial injuries.

Robbie McEwen steered clear of the crash and led the peloton in 30 seconds behind Kirsipuu.

The stage result did not affect the overall standings, ONCE rider Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano holding on to the yellow jersey ahead of team-mate Joseba Beloki.

Lance Armstrong remains third overall.

From the outset of the stage, the peloton set a sensational pace as a series of breaks came and went in rapid succession.

Initially the most promising saw a group of 17 riders including Baden Cooke, Stuart O'Grady, Bobby Julich and Floyd Landis go clear.

But that too fell through.

The peloton meander through France
The peloton failed to catch the stage leaders

The first breakaway to finally get clear from the clutches of Gonzalez de Galdeano's ONCE team-mates, working to hold on to the Spaniard's overall lead, came courtesy of Kirsipuu and the rest of his quintet.

By then, though, the Tour had finally experienced the first retirement of the Tour as sprinter Tom Steels finally bowed out.

The Belgian national champion had started the day 188th out of 189 riders and had been feeling ill for the last four days.

The final stages of the race, though, were blighted by the accident, which also affected Brad McGee, Erik Dekker, Rik Verbrugghe and Robert Hunter among others.

Aside from Pinotti, the remaining men affected in the accident all returned to racing action and finished the stage.

But Verbrugghe was later forced to withdraw after doctors confirmed he had broken his collarbone.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"Kirsipuu won the third Tour stage of his career"
Stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu
"I didn't have much confidence in the sprints"
Lotto's Robbie McEwen
"We could have started working together sooner"
All the actiion from the world's greatest bike race

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