VILLERS-SUR-MER, France — The Netherlands' Johan Van der Velde edged Frenchmen Joel Pelier on the final sprint to win the 77-mile fifth stage of the Tour de France cycle race Tuesday and take the overall lead from France's Dominique Gaigne.
Van der Velde escaped from the pack with Pelier and picked up 48 seconds in bonus points along the mainly flat stage through Normandy in northwest France.
Van der Velde and Pelier traded the lead over the first 56 miles before the Dutchman nosed out Pelier in the final sprint to win the stage in 3 hours 4 minutes and 5 seconds.
Eddy Planckaert of Belgium and Spaniard Miguel Indurian came home 39 seconds later.
Van der Velde won the Tour's white jersey for being the best first-time rider in 1981 but did not enter the race again until this year.
Van der Velde, who was in 22nd place Monday, was delighted about the victory.
Pelier moved from 39th to sixth in the overall standings at 56 seconds behind Van der Velde.
Despite losing the overall lead, the Systeme-U team remained strong in the top 10 placings, with Gaigne dropping to second at 36 seconds back. Thierry Marie was in third place at 42 seconds back, Charly Mottet was fourth at 45 seconds and two-time Tour champion Laurent Fignon was fifth at 49 seconds off the lead.
With Van der Velde's victory, the Dutch-based Panasonic team could pose a threat to Systeme-U's early dominance. Sprinter Eric Vandereraeden stands 10th overall and Scotsman Robert Millar, a strong climber, is in 20th place, two minutes back.
The La Vie Claire team, led by American Greg Lemond and French five-time winner Bernard Hinault, finished in the pack and gained no time on Fignon and the Systeme-U riders.
Colombian Luis Herrera suffered a bad fall near the finish but was able to remount his bicycle and finish 151st in the main pack.
The riders run the sixth stage today through Normandy from Villers-Sur-Mer to Cherbourg. The 23-stage race ends July 27.