Tour de l'Aude
Castelnaudary - Castelnaudary (119km)
Race conditions were hot and windy for the fifth stage of the Tour de L'Aude. The field faced three second category climbs in the 199km covered. The start was fast with a tailwind as the race headed generally northwards on the clockwise circuit which looped around the countryside of the Haute Garrone Aude and Haute Garonne Tarn regions. At the top of the first climb, the Cotes des Cammazes, Lyne Bessette (T-mobile) was at the head of the bunch, stringing it out in a long, fast, chasing line. Her effort gave her no advantage though. Various moves were tried on the run down to Saissac, the foot of the descent and it was French National team member, Marina Jaunatre who managed to break away with T-Mobile's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.
The pair very quickly increased their advantage. Just 12km later, they were over a minute ahead of the chasing bunch. Actually, the bunch was not chasing so hard - the T-Mobile team had moved to the front and were measuring the pace of the bunch. Kimberly Bruckner Baldwin, Kimberly Anderson and Lyne Bessette were all at the front, with Judith Arndt and Amy Moore not too far back in the group.
15km later, the leading pair had extended their lead to over 2 minutes. They were approaching the second climb - the Cote de Fanjeaux. First though, they were held up for 3 minutes at a level crossing near Bram whilst a TGV (Train Grand Vittesse) passed.
Safely over the final climb of the stage, Col de la Pierre Leve, Teutenberg and Jaunatre descended into Castelnaudary. The long finishing straight contained a roundabout approximately 500m from the line, but with just two riders gearing up for the sprint, this was not a problem. A slight uphill slope was no problem for the German sprinter, she easily took the stage from Jaunatre. A wait in the finish area was ended with a crowd countdown from 10 seconds to 0, led by the race commentator, as Jaunatre took the yellow jersey from Madeleine Sandig (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint), who was still out on the road, more than 4 minutes slower than the Frenchwoman - the advantage over the younger rider with which she had started the day.
This was Jaunatre's first yellow jersey and she was delighted. The French public, too were happy with the win - the podium presentation was watched by a larger than usual crowd - even by this popular race's standards. Sandig would not be too disappointed, she took back the pink jersey of the Young Rider competition leader, whilst Judith Arndt (T-Mobile) passed the blue Mountains Leader jersey to Svetlana Bubnenkova (Colnago Fenixs). Priska Doppmann (Univega) retained the Points jersey and Chantal Beltman (Netherlands) stayed in the red Sprints jersey.
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