Montargis, France Britain’s Mark Cavendish broke down in tears after winning the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday for his first victory in this year’s race.
The Briton, who won six stages last year and four in 2008, broke through in the 2010 edition on the mostly flat 116.3-mile trek from Epernay to Montargis. The main contenders for the overall title cruised home afterward in the pack, with the whole field clocking 4 hours, 30 minutes, 50 seconds.
The 25-year-old Cavendish thrust his arms skyward and hugged teammates in the winner’s circle after beating Gerald Ciolek of Germany.
Cavendish had faded in a sprint finish in Wednesday’s stage won by Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi, and bared his frustration by hurling his bike after the fourth stage.
“It’s incredible, it’s been a long time,” said Cavendish of his stage win. “Yesterday wasn’t that great for us. I let the guys down.”
Fabian Cancellara retained the leader’s yellow jersey, and the overall standings didn’t change. Defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain was 19th in the stage, and seven-time tour winner Lance Armstrong 30th.
Breaking down during a TV interview, after holding his face in his hands, Cavendish admitted the “pressure was immense,” said he had “been through a helluva lot.”