TOUR DE FRANCE
Date: 4 July - 26 July
Coverage: BBC Sport website: text commentary of each stage and streamed BBC commentary of the last 90 minutes of each stage available; commentary on selected stages on BBC 5 Live sports extra
Voeckler celebrates his first Grand Tour stage victory in style
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler celebrated his maiden Grand Tour victory on stage five of the Tour de France.
Voeckler was part of a six-man break early in the 196.5km stage from Le Cap D'Adge to Perpignan.
He made a dash for home with five kilometres remaining and held off the peloton to win by seven seconds.
Britain's Mark Cavendish came in third to retain the sprinters' green jersey and Fabien Cancellara kept the leaders' yellow jersey from Lance Armstrong.
Voeckler, who broke his collarbone during the Paris to Nice race in March, made his break from the peloton with Anthony Geslin, Marcin Sapa and Fumiyuki Beppu in the opening kilometres, but Japan's Beppu dropped back quickly.
The trio were soon joined by Yauhani Hutarovich, Mikhael Ignatiev and Albert Timmer and the sextet's lead reached more than nine minutes before the peloton began to reel them back in.
Team Columbia, Cavendish's team, expended most of the energy in chasing down the leaders on a relatively flat stage in the south of France, where a strong crosswind played its part, and they soon whittled it down to under four minutes.
It seemed only a matter of time before the peloton would close in, but Voeckler urged his fellow escapees on, no doubt remembering his efforts five years ago to the day when he was one of five riders to break clear - he finished fourth that day, but took the yellow jersey which he then held for 10 days.
Lance Armstrong's Astana team helped pull the peloton to within 45 seconds of the leaders with just under 40km remaining, but that was as close as they got.
The lead hovered around the 90 second mark for several kilometres, but the expected surge from the main bunch failed to materialise and with a little over five kilometres left, Ignatiev made his burst for home.
Voeckler immediately latched on to his wheel and then made his own break for glory when the place slackened.
And there was to be no denying the Frenchman as he cruised up the finishing straight with the peloton thundering behind him.
Ignatiev found enough energy to hold off the peloton for second, with Cavendish leading home the sprinters in third.
"I waited for so long for this to happen I had almost ceased to believe in my chances of winning a Tour stage," said Voeckler.
"I went in the finale because I was not the best sprinter in the break and 300 metres from the line I realised that was it. I was helped by the wind, I would never have succeeded otherwise."
Race leader Cancellara finished in the main pack with Armstrong and so retained his yellow jersey, while Cavendish ensured he would stay in green for another day with his late burst.
Thursday's stage six sees the riders venture into Spain for the southernmost stage in Tour history with a 181.5km ride from Gerona to Barcelona.
Stage Five result:
1. Thomas Voeckler (France/BBO) 4 hours 29 minutes 35 seconds
2. Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia/Katusha) + 7 secs
3. Mark Cavendish (GB/ Team Columbia) same time
4. Tyler Farrar (USA/Garmin) "
5. Gerald Ciolek (Ger/Team Milram) "
6. Danilo Napolitano (It/Katusha) "
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Caisse D'Epargne) "
8. Lloyd Mondory (Fra/AG2R) "
9. Oscar Freire (Spa/Rabobank) "
Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo) "
24. Fabien Cancellara (Swi/Saxobank) "
39. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) "
41. Lance Armstrong (US/Astana) "
48. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) "
69. David Millar (GB/Garmin) "
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxobank) 15 hours 07 minutes 49 seconds
2. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) same time
3. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) +19 secs
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) +23
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Astana) +31
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +38 secs
10. David Millar (GB/Garmin) +1 minute 07 secs
29. Carlos Sastre (Spa/Cervelo) +2 minutes 44 secs
60. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia) +3 minutes 33 secs
154. Charlie Wegelius (GB/Silence) +8 minutes 09 secs