Austin, Texas – Last year we were sitting at Central Market watching the Tour de Lance and this year we are at home watching OLN channel 470 on Time Warner (and getting more work done). OLN is doing their usual terrific job. Beauvais to Caen – The fifth stage of the 2006 Tour de France is getting under way today, Thursday in the northern French city of Beauvais.

Yesterday the flying Australian Robbie Mcewen won the sprint and Thor Hushovd got “relegated” to 148th place, I guess for pushing the guy next to him near the finish. Pooh!

Floyd Landis is playing it cool riding in the “safety zone” outside of the dense peloton. Phonak is riding out in front most of the time. Today’s stage 5, which covers 225 kilometres or 139.81 miles to the city of Caen in Normandy, presents the 172 riders left in the race with only four modest climbs and is likely therefore to end in another mass sprint to the finish.

1 kilometer = 0.621371192 miles

World road race champion Tom Boonen of Belgium had been expected to rule the stages, but his best showing so far has been a second place on Monday. The 25-year-old sprint specialist for the Quick Step team has been upstaged by last year’s Tour de France sprint champion Robbie McEwen, who won his second stage of this year’s Tour on Wednesday and took over the green jersey of the sprint points leader.

However, when Thursday’s stage got under way, Boonen was still dressed in the Tour de France’s most important color, the yellow jersey signifying the leader in the overall standings. He leads another sprinter, Australian Michael Rogers, by 1 second, with American George Hincapie 5 seconds behind in third place. The standings are not likely to change much until Saturday’s 52- kilometre individual time trial, which may go some way towards revealing the contenders for this year’s Tour de France title.

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